In the current tech era, businesses need to have online ordering to stay competitive. Make no mistake: even if you don’t think an online ordering option is worth it, your competitors and customers do, and your competitors are benefiting from the value that option provides. Need proof? How about the fact that digital food orders have increased by an average rate of 23% each year since 2013? But that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to online ordering.
Online ordering is fast and convenient for your customers, which in turn leads to better customer loyalty. Here’s a brief snapshot of the various benefits provided by online ordering:
The first step in setting up an online ordering site is deciding which platform to use. There are many online ordering services out there, but not all of them provide the same experience. Here are the major options available to you if online ordering is something you’re interested in offering.
If you want an entire online ordering site that is separate from your current site and you want it set up and ready to use in less than 72 hours, then you can always choose the route of a do-it-yourself secondary ordering site. This can be done through website-building platforms like GoDaddy, Wix, or WordPress.
However, there are a couple of major issues with this option. One of the problems is that it can be difficult to set up a comprehensive ordering site if you’re not very tech-savvy, and it’s also time-consuming, often requiring upwards of a dozen man-hours for a pretty basic site. So for most busy pizzeria owners, especially those managing multiple locations, this option is going to be out of the question.
You can hire a web design company to get your site up and running, but for pizzerias, this can be a challenge. Most designers won’t be equipped to deal with customizable toppings, let alone half-and-half and create-your-own menu items. Add coupons to the mix, and you really need to source a company with previous experience building pizza ordering sites.
Don’t want to trouble yourself with trying to build a site? You can always rely on third-party online ordering services instead. With platforms like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Grubhub, restaurants don’t necessarily need their own dedicated online ordering service. Instead, they can piggyback on these already established services and use an integrated third-party order aggregator to get these orders sent directly to their POS.
These aggregators, like Chowly and ItsaCheckmate, funnel online orders into your SpeedLine POS in real-time. This eliminates the costly need to have multiple tablets and employees to monitor these tablets for order re-entry.
However, using one of these services to build your site might not be a good long-term strategy. These third-party services can be damaging to restaurants, especially smaller restaurants that can’t afford the high fees that they charge for every order.
With a site that lets customers order, the most efficient way to process payments online and have the orders be sent to your store in real time is to integrate the ordering site with your POS. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck having to purchase, install, and constantly monitor a tablet to see the online orders and then manually enter them in the POS. This costs a significant amount of time and money, in addition to the cost of building the site in the first place.
In order to get the best of both worlds, you can choose to go with an integrated ordering site and POS bundle. This ensures that a professional team is building your online ordering site on your behalf and cuts out the high prices of third-party apps. By having an integrated online ordering site like SpeedDine, you also gain access to a lot of additional features, like better reporting and synchronized online menu pricing.
With any website, you’ll need to provide content to the person building the site. At minimum, this includes good photos and mouth-watering descriptions of the food, and a copy of your menu.
Presentation is such a huge part of the eating experience. If something doesn’t look very appetizing, then it’s going to impact how good it tastes. That’s why you need to use well-lit and properly contrasted images of your food on the online ordering site. Learn about how to get appetizing photos of your menu in this article.
Menu descriptions can be so much more than just a list of the ingredients in a dish. It is meant to be a story about what the customer can expect from the food, which can include things like the flavor profile of the dish, the quality of ingredients, what it’s served with, how many calories it includes, and what sizes it comes in. Learn how to write a menu description that has everyone ordering in this guide.
To further enhance the online ordering experience, a lot of restaurants choose to offer a mobile app. Considering that 53.9 million people are expected to use smartphone apps for food orders by 2023, this is a very beneficial strategy. It is especially effective amongst younger demographics, who tend to use smartphone apps far more than older customers.
Delivery goes hand-in-hand with online ordering, considering that one study shows 64% of customers who use apps would opt to get their online order delivered, even if the restaurant were less than a mile away. So if you really want your online ordering system to be a success, then you’ll need an efficient delivery infrastructure in place. Behind the scenes, this means having the ability to visually group orders on a map to efficiently dispatch drivers, push directions to the driver’s phone, and easily create and adjust delivery zones.
It’s also a good idea to have certain customer-facing delivery features like accurate delivery estimates that account for real-time traffic conditions. This helps set customer expectations and avoid the frustration of online delivery orders that are quoted at 25 minutes but arrive after 40 minutes. Late orders tend to be a deal-breaker for most customers.
“We do a lot of delivery and SpeedLine works great for that. I think they do a great job with their dispatch screen and other features, and it just works for us.”
- Domenick Montanile, Venezia’s Pizzeria
If you want to take full advantage of your online ordering system, then you need to understand how it is performing and be able to identify areas for improvement. The only way to do this is to get real-time data on your online sales, which you can get when using the SpeedLine Remote Order Sales Summary report in SpeedLine Store Manager™. This provides a detailed breakdown of your net online sales and the average online order size from all your remote ordering sources, whether that’s through your own website or third-party apps.
Have you ever been thinking about ordering from a certain restaurant and then quickly Googled “restaurant coupon codes”? If so, you’re not alone. When ordering food, 54% of customers are more likely to choose a place offering a coupon. Having this added edge is invaluable in such a highly competitive market.
By having an online ordering system that accepts coupons, you unlock a much larger demographic of customers. You can use your POS reports to learn which coupons are redeemed most often, and which ones might need to be adjusted or better promoted.
“We have so many coupons, so we like to track them based on their results and ROI. Before, I was just tallying them up, which takes a lot of work. But with SpeedLine, you can just use a computer to run a report and it pulls it up.”
- Domenick Montanile, Venezia’s Pizzeria
It’s easy enough to set up a simple punch card system for your restaurant where every customer’s tenth order is free or discounted. But moving this system online requires a lot more moving pieces, and is not something that many pizzeria owners are equipped to handle. By using the right POS and online ordering system, you can make this process easier.
Why do you need an online loyalty program for your customers? There are many reasons why this is a good idea, but here are some of the most important ones:
To help you experience all of these benefits and more from loyalty programs, SpeedDine offers online integration with the Punchh customer loyalty and engagement platform. This allows you to better track the purchase and visit behavior of your customers, regardless of whether they order in-store or online. Plus, customers can redeem loyalty rewards online instead of being forced to save them up for in-store purchases.
The look of your online ordering site is almost as important as its functionality. If someone clicks onto your site and is taken aback by the bland, unprofessional, or confusing design of the site, they are likely to click away without ordering anything.
That’s why it’s important to have an ordering site that is equal parts gorgeous and intuitive. Here’s a great example of how it's done:
How can customers pay for your food online? Can they pay at the door with a card? Can they pay online beforehand with a credit or debit card? What about gift cards? These are all important questions to ask. Payment options can have a huge impact on how user-friendly your online ordering is going to be. SpeedLine Pay™ is an app that connects to a mobile card reader to take payments at the customer's door, curbside, or at the table.
Try to enable as many payment options as possible for any customer putting in an order online. But make sure above all else that you have the proper payment technology to keep your customer data secure.
There are plenty of other smaller features that an online ordering site should have that make a huge difference in the user experience. For example, having real-time updates on the cart prices ensures that your customers aren’t taken off-guard by changes to the order total when they check out.
Your site should also utilize automatic upselling techniques, which can help increase the average price of every order by 10-20%. Not nearly enough restaurants use upselling for online ordering, which is just leaving money on the virtual table. Even just having a simple pop-up suggesting a drink or dessert to complete a meal, which is something that only 36% of restaurants do, can lead to significantly more revenue with each online order.
Once you have your online ordering site set up, figure out how to get customers to use it. If this is the first time you’ve had online ordering as an option, you can start by plastering the phrase “online ordering now available” or “order online now” everywhere. This includes coupons, food packaging, menus, the homepage of your website, and any other materials you distribute to customers.
If you previously relied on DoorDash or Uber Eats for your online delivery, you will have the unique challenge of getting customers to convert from third-party apps to your online site. Luckily, convincing them shouldn’t be too hard, considering the fact that 70% of customers prefer to order directly from restaurants whenever possible. This will involve educating your customers online and offline to let them know they can support your restaurant better, and likely get their food for a cheaper price, by ordering directly from your new website rather than using a third-party service.
“We're constantly pushing people to order through our website. We never advertise that we do third-party. If a customer finds us on Grubhub and orders from us, that's great, but we're never going to push anybody towards that.”
By following these guidelines, you should be able to create an online ordering system that perfectly serves the interests of both your business and your customers. If you need further help in establishing an efficient online ordering site, book a demo with our team of professionals.