Back in the day, online ordering was difficult to set up, maintain, and track. However, as demand grew, so did the options for restaurant operators. Now you can create an online ordering system with a platform that works best for your business.
In this post, we’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks of popular online ordering options, like:
- Delivery Sites
- POS Integration Options
- Template Sites
- Custom Design & Development
The Importance of Online Ordering
Online ordering has been around for a while. Just think of how many years you’ve avoided holiday shopping insanity by ordering gifts online.
Unfortunately, the restaurant industry has been a bit slower at keeping up with the trend. Yet, as more options become available to add online ordering options to your website, more restaurateurs are reaping the benefits. Here are just a few key benefits.
Attract More People
Diners love online ordering. According to a survey by the National Restaurant Association, 43 percent of adults placed food orders through the Internet. Personally, we expect that number keep growing. Which means, more people may be interested in ordering from you if you offer them a convenient online ordering option for their next meal.
Increase Staff Productivity
You may offer delivery, but taking orders over the phone could be hurting your staff. Every time a server or hostess answers the phone, that’s one less person on the floor to help your on-site diners. Not to mention, all the headaches that come with phone orders. Poor reception, a loud front of house and a rushed server jotting down an order over the phone is a recipe for a mix up. Giving customers the power to view their options and take their time placing an order online reduces mistakes and saves your staff time from trying to confirm a difficult order.
Boost Your Bottom Line
Even if you have a small capacity, online orders increase the amount of sales you make without tying up your tables. You can have a full house, and still be making orders for people who aren’t even onsite. That means more money in your pocket with half the effort.
Online Ordering Options for Your Restaurant
Deciding to offer online ordering is half the battle. The next part is finding out which online ordering option work best for your business. The good news is you have several options. The bad news is it can get confusing figuring out which one has what you need.
Lucky for you, we did the legwork to help narrow down your options to the best online ordering system for your restaurant. Take a look at the pros and cons to find out what should work for you.
Delivery sites are possibly the lowest maintenance option for restaurant operators looking to offer online ordering options for their diners, but they come at a price. Essentially, these third party platforms allow customers to place orders to your restaurant through their app or service. The order is sent directly to your restaurant, then the company sends their driver to pick up and deliver the food. The process is simple, but you’ll have to pay a commission to the delivery site for each order, which cuts into your profit margins.
Perfect For: Busy restaurant owners who are only interested in adding a delivery option for their customers without managing an entire website or online ordering system.
Some Big Names:
- Uber Eats
- Getting an account set up and running is relatively easy
- You don’t have to worry about hiring your own staff to make deliveries
- Most of these apps have a large user base, which means more exposure for your business
- You’ll have to pay for the service, which takes away from what you earn with each online delivery order. The numbers vary by service, but you could wind up paying between 20 to 30 percent in fees and commissions.
- You don’t have any control over marketing. Customers searches are geo-based, so only people nearby will see your restaurant appear as an option for delivery.
- If you already have a website, using a separate service for delivery would just be wasting your efforts in driving traffic to your site. People that already know you and want your food have to use a third party company to order, and you’re stuck with the extra bill.
The current POS system you use onsite could be your solution to online ordering. Some companies can integrate their cloud POS with your website, so customers can place orders and make payments online. The interface is set up nearly the same way that your server enters orders, so your customers can punch in their order and see all their options and add-ons for each entree. The POS tracks every order, so they’re all integrated into your current system.
Perfect For: Restaurant owners who love their POS provider and want to bring that experience to their website.
Some Big Names:
- Your online ordering options would automatically be integrated with your existing system to receive new orders
- You get the benefits of more food orders for your restaurant without the high price of additional in-store hardware
- Instead of tracking two separate systems, you only have to monitor one system for all your orders
- You’re unable to customize the POS interface with your brand, so customers are getting a generic ordering option that doesn’t match the rest of your website
- Your customers will experience the same headaches and frustration your staff does if the POS system malfunctions or has a confusing interface
- The priority of POS providers is payment processing, not customer-facing technology. While some features work great, their online integration technology may need some tweaking.
Template sites are a decent compromise between web design and online ordering. Instead of creating a custom website from scratch, some companies provide branded templates and designs for your website. One of the features you can integrate is online ordering. It definitely cuts out some work, since you just pick a pre-made template and input the details that you want. However, this means you’re limited from a design perspective. And while they can make your website look nice, template sites don’t offer any marketing strategy insight to ensure your site gets seen.
Perfect For: Restaurant operators who want a basic website with ordering options, but are not looking to implement a marketing strategy with their design.
Some Big Names:
- Starting prices are usually affordable, especially if you’re a single location just getting started but can start adding up if you have multiple locations
- The templates and designs are already made, so you can get your site and online ordering features up and running pretty quickly
- You don’t need any web development skills to set up your site. Most template sites are relatively user-friendly and easy to navigate.
- The price may seem sensible at first, but can quickly increase as you add new stores or locations to your business
- Since you don’t own the site, you’re at the mercy of changes, security risks and outages of the template site you’re using. If your site goes down or if you need help with designing an element of your site, customer support could be a pain point. These sites deal with hundreds or thousands of customers and are stretched thin in terms of support.
- You may be lucky enough to find a template that works with your brand, but keep in mind that several hundred other businesses are using the same design. Be prepared to lose some of your brand uniqueness when using template sites.
Custom Build Sites
Custom build and development sites, puts the power of online ordering in your hands. You get creative freedom to make a design that perfectly reflects your brand and to make changes whenever you want. With that freedom comes the flexibility to add current and future online ordering options to your site, on your terms.
Perfect For: Restaurant owners looking to create an enhanced customer experience with online ordering that reflects their brand and want the ability to update and manage as they grow their market.
- You own the site and content. This means you make changes when you want, how you want, rather than waiting for a site update.
- You can customize the look and feel based on your own branding and style
- No ongoing commission fees based on a % of the revenue
- Most agencies like ours, have a team of marketing and design experts that can help you not just build the site but also with how to drive traffic and conversions
- Cost and time to set up your online ordering is a bit higher than some of the other options—but it’s a lot less than most people think when you’re working with an experienced team
Getting a beautifully designed and well-planned online ordering solution is one of the many perks when working with a team of marketing experts. Here are a few other positive side effects you may experience when partnering with a digital agency.
Provides the Support of an Experienced Team
Don’t leave your online marketing strategy to chance. An experienced digital agency will work with your marketing team to better understand your brand and goals. They’ll work with you to come up with a plan that benefits your business and can evaluate current process to see what’s working and what needs improvement. Their goal is to streamline your current strategy to maximize results.
Want an example of how a team of experts can tweak your email marketing strategy to convert more customers? Check out what we did for Swiss Chalet.
Integrates Creative Design Solutions to Level Up Your Campaign
A good design helps your company stand out on the Internet and in an inbox. A digital agency can come up with a creative concept that presents your brand, promotion or online menu in a unique and exciting way. You’ll turn heads and increase engagement for every promotion.
A well-designed campaign is more than a pretty face. See how our creative concepts helped drive engagement and turn Bick’s pickles into a burger must-have.
Offers a One-Stop Shop for Your Marketing Needs
You’re busy running your business. Partnering with a digital agency means you can focus on what you’re good at while experts take ownership of your marketing campaigns and do what we’re good at. They’ll manage your current content and handle future updates to ensure that your website features, email campaigns and promotions are keeping up with the latest trends. You don’t have to lift a finger (unless you want to).
Need to get a lot done in a little time? Learn how we acted as a one-stop-shop and even handled print jobs for the Ultimate Dining Card when they were refreshing their brand.
Analytics and Data for Your Campaigns
When you complete a campaign or add a new feature to your website, the real work begins. A digital agency doesn’t just come up with solutions—they monitor progress and review marketing and engagement trends to provide insight on customer response. This information allows you (and them) to make adjustments to improve results.
A little evaluation can do a lot for your digital marketing efforts. For Smucker’s, we didn’t stop at a new website design. We took things to the next level by providing best practices around site analytics and conversion goals.
Like any digital marketing solution, the best online ordering option depends on your business needs and goals. Are you a new restaurant looking to attract new customers? Are you trying to help current customers order more easily? What’s your budget? How much control do you want over your online ordering system?
Understanding your business needs is a good start to finding out which online ordering option will work best for your restaurant. You may find that only one factor matters, or maybe you have a combination of needs.
At Wired Messenger, we don’t believe in a boxed solution for our customers. Each restaurateur is unique with their own set of goals, challenges and expectations. We try to find something that makes sense for you. To learn more about how our team can help with your online solutions, get in touch with us today.