Online Ordering: The Ultimate Upsell?

By Lisa Siddons

You’ve probably seen them: figures and statements that talk about how online ordering can boost pizza ticket totals and averages. Maybe you’ve even experienced this phenom yourself? Some sources say that effective online ordering with suggestive selling can lead to ticket averages that are 15 to 27% higher than in-store averages.

Let’s take a look at what’s responsible for the increase in online ticket totals, and how you can be sure your site is designed to take advantage.

The Why

Why do online orders outsell phoned orders? There can be a few reasons:

  • No time pressure. When people order over the phone, they subconsciously or consciously feel pressured to give their order, and let the order taker get on with serving other guests. And when you’re busy, and staff feel rushed, this gets transmitted to the customer on the phone. Online, your customers have time to peruse your full menu at their own pace, and may be more likely to choose add-ons.
  • Customers sell themselves. No matter how well you train or incentivize them, some of your staff are just not going to be natural sales people. It’s hard to make something you’ve asked several hundred times sound fresh, and employees may revert to mechnical “would you like fries with that?” mode. When ordering online, the customer feels in control, and good website design will ensure they are offered logical upsell options consistently.
  • Presentation. Most paper takeout menus have limited real estate, and can’t show pictures or detailed descriptions for all your menu options. Online menus have almost limitless space available for the detailed descriptions and images that allow hungry diners to visualize your offerings. The breadth of the menu means your online customers may discover dishes, toppings, and sauces they didn’t even know you offered.

The How

Here are some suggestions for effective online upselling:

  • Be generous with product images and descriptions. A picture is worth 1,000 words, and the best online ordering sites use plenty of mouthwatering imagery to showcase menu items, modifiers, and add-ons. Think of the online ordering site as your virtual storefront— hiring a professional photographer gives your site a more professional look, and can pay off in increased sales.
  • Give extras visibility. A well designed online ordering site makes upselling options prominent on-screen. So while customers are choosing the main course, buttons or links to the salad, appetizer, and beverage options are visible. Place your high-margin add-ons or “deal of the week” at the top of the main page, so they can’t be missed.
  • Use product placement. Show extras on your ordering screens. Position sidebar ads for meal deals, soda, or appys on the pizza/entree ordering screen, and show popular ordering combinations together, like pizzas and salads. Nearly every item in your online menu may have an option for an add-on or upsize—even small upsell items worth only $1 or $2 add up over time.
  • Set larger default sizes. Whenever possible, have extras like drinks and appetizers set to default to larger sizes.
  • Give prompts. Customer checking out? Don’t forget to offer them drinks or dessert. Most online ordering software will let you ask the customer about other items during the checkout process, and many customers will buy something they haven’t tried before on impulse.

6 steps to creating the perfect menu description


Posted on Mon, Nov 09, 2015 @ 10:11 AM.
Updated on May 27, 2020 @ 7:41 PM PST.

Tags: Online Ordering

Posted by Lisa Siddons

Lisa is the Technical Documentation Specialist for SpeedLine Solutions, which means she knows the pizza industry like the back of her hand. Whether you want to know what hardware works best with SpeedLine or just want some great gardening tips, she's the one to ask!

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