July 27, 2016
Looking for a way to increase business for your restaurant(s)? If you accept takeout, phone in, or delivery orders and aren’t taking online orders, you are missing out on a huge opportunity. This is part one of a 3 part article where we will discuss online ordering in the restaurant market place. In this article we will cover 4 major benefits of general online ordering. In part 2 we will take a closer look at some of the different pricing models and options out there. Finally in part 3 we will look at fully integrated, semi integrated and non-integrated online ordering solutions and the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Let’s dive into the nitty gritty then shall we? Here are 4 ways that online ordering can improve a restaurant’s revenue and profit. Receiving an online order in place of a phone order lessens the burden on restaurant staff. Order accuracy is significantly improved with online orders. A good online ordering experience can increase the frequency of guest orders. Finally, average orders are larger when placed online.
Keep your staff off the phone
I would consider myself fairly quick when it comes to placing an order on the phone. I research the menu ahead of time and write down what I am going to order (along with any modifications or choices) in the order I am going to order it. I know it’s odd… but it’s how I operate. Then when I call, I run through the list and typically provide the answers to any questions (such as what side I want) before the operator has to ask. Even so, when I call in for pizza delivery I still have to give my full name, address, place my full order, read off my credit card number (always hate doing that), wait for it to authorize and finally wait for the operator to look around and quote me an estimated delivery time. This whole process ties up a restaurant employee for a minimum of a few minutes and certainly much longer for a patron less prepared than I. But there’s no way around it (or is there?). Also, it’s distracting. That employee can’t just sit there and answer the phone so they must be assigned to another task at the same time. If that other task is making a pizza, well then that pizza is getting delayed by 3+ minutes every time an order comes through. If they are working the register then that person in line is going to have to wait a few minutes while the phone order is entered. If the person on the phone was out bussing tables then that 3+ minutes is now 5+ as they walk to the phone and walk back to pick up what they were doing.
When I place an order online that employee experiences much less of a distraction and has a lot less to do. The kitchen can start making the order and the cashier can wait until there are no customers in line to enter it into the POS. Better yet, if the online ordering solution is integrated it is already entered in the POS and just needs to be tendered when complete!
Improve order accuracy
So beyond the use of restaurant staff resources, there’s also the element of human error. Whether the patron placing the order words something incorrectly or the operator entering the order doesn’t hear something, the occasional mistake will inevitably be made.
When an order is placed via online ordering, the number these mistakes are significantly reduced. Things like language barrier, bad cell reception and poorly worded orders from the patron are completely eliminated. This results in happier customers and much less food waste.
Check out Jimmy Johns online ordering page for a great example (screenshot below).
Increase order frequency
A couple years ago a Jimmy Johns opened about 10 blocks from our office here in Eugene. A couple months later our office placed our first order from them. We had a conference call that day that the entire office was participating and of course it was scheduled right through lunch. During that call, I searched “delivery near me” on my phone and found Jimmy Johns. From there we were able to silently pass a note around the conference room table, all bring up JJ’s menu on our devices, place an online order and have it delivered without saying a word or interrupting the conference call in any way.
For me, this was when it really hit me how much online ordering (especially paired with delivery) can stick a customer. Sure I had done that with pizza many times, but why only pizza. I have pizza because of online ordering and delivery way more than I would otherwise. And now I have Jimmy Johns way more often for the same reason. Sure the sandwiches are fine, but it’s the convenience on the days when I just can’t leave my desk that gets me.
Increase average order
Online ordering can do wonders for increasing a restaurant’s average ticket for takeout and delivery orders.
Upselling is always a great tactic for increasing the average ticket but it’s proven significantly more effective through online ordering. This is for several reasons. When prompted for an up-sale over the phone, the customer is giving little time to ponder the decision and typically decline by default. When prompted via placing a web order there are no time constraints and that customer can really look and think about that additional item or upgrade. They can also be presented with images which as we all know can go a huge way toward selling to a hungry customer. Finally, some of the better solutions out there allow you to configure the user experience so certain complimentary items are upsold based on other items already ordered or customer history.
These 4 factors all combine to make online ordering a must have for any counter service or delivery restaurant in 2016. Check back next week when I will discuss some of the benefits of an online ordering solution that integrates with point of sale and the different levels of integration.