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15 February 2022

Why You Need Online Ordering for Your Restaurant

It’s convenient, personalised and more popular than ever. Online ordering took off like it never has before during the pandemic, and by all accounts, it’s becoming the new normal.

But it’s not enough to rely on third-party apps. 70% of customers say they prefer ordering directly from restaurants. But why is that? And how can you use better technology to tap into that 70%?

If you’re wondering whether it’s time to optimise your digital platform, then you’re in the right place. We’re giving you the full scoop to help you find the best online ordering system, and what it can do for your business in 2022.

Customised to your brand

Let’s start by calling out third party ordering apps and third-party delivery apps for what they really are – blocks in the road to healthy profits for a restaurant. So how can we transition to a system that takes on online orders successfully?

Restaurants and coffee shops that rely on third-party online ordering systems lose on average 15-30% of their delivery market profits on commissions and fees. While external delivery providers can provide a helpful service to new restaurants and food business just getting started in the delivery game, they’re not a sustainable option if you’re looking to increase your online profitability.

Restaurant operators should be looking for custom-built online ordering systems that integrates with your brand, your website, and your existing POS system. Total design control over your online systems means direct engagement with your customers, as well as better insights for owners. You decide how to display your menu, how the interface flows, your payment processing, and what kind of guest experience should represent your business. This is the power of an intelligent online ordering software - and the potential in moving your restaurant online.

With online ordering growing 300% faster than on-premise dining, it’s obvious that the future of the restaurant industry is digital - and your site makes a difference. Your online presence, and your restaurant website (as part of a broader marketing strategy), is often the first and sometimes only direct engagement you get with customers - so it pays to have a system that handles online orders, seamlessly integrates delivery orders, and intelligently feeds into marketing tools. Add online table reservation features too, and you have a powerful online presence.

43% of restaurant owners agree that third-party apps interfere with their restaurant’s relationship with their customers. Rather than relying on third parties to make that introduction for you, take charge and create a customised online ordering system and branded mobile app that accelerates your brand and marketing beyond your building’s walls. This is where the power of a successful online food ordering system can really up your impact.

ASAP or future orders

Whether you're running a chain of successful takeout restaurants, wanting to change the curbside pickup experience, or have franchised coffee shops that want to increase efficiency, the most effective online ordering system for restaurants should offer a range of options across pick up and delivery times.

Imagine if you could predict half of the evening’s online food orders before you’ve even started service. It turns out, customers want to depend on delivery timings just as much as restaurant managers do, and successful online ordering systems can help create a more successful business.

With online ordering, customers can order ahead for a pre-determined time for their delivery orders, or schedule large delivery orders and take out orders in advance. Not only is this convenient for your customers, but online orders can also maximise productivity in the kitchen.

Depending on how your restaurant operates, you can set a variety of timing options through online ordering – helping communicate the possibilities with your customers and improving internal workflow. Your restaurant website can set reasonable expectations during the online ordering experience, improving customer experiences as to when pickup orders are ready, when curbside pickup will be available, when a third party delivery will take place, or when one of your own drivers will complete the delivery.

Customisable menu

Would you like guac with that? Or add extra cheese? How spicy? Want dairy milk in your coffee, or soy, oat or rice?

With a customisable online menu as part of your back end and POS integration or a branded mobile app, you can display personalised ordering options to the guest. From add-ons to size and presentation choices, a smooth step-by-step flow through the ordering process makes it easy and enticing for customers to build their perfect meal.

Today’s restaurant consumer market is all about personalisation, and taking your restaurant online can facilitate this. Offering plenty of choices and communication tools (such as multilingual support) makes it easy and enjoyable for guests to order online - and it helps fuel brand recognition and customer loyalty programs. Integrate it into your marketing and it can be leveraged for more impact.

Plus, your business will be rewarded for the effort. Customising orders is an incredibly effective way to upsell items and increase your profits. 20% of customers report that they spend more when placing online orders from online ordering restaurants, compared to dine-in experiences.

Customise your menu to improve your guest experience, provide better choices and tick up your online ordering profits. It's all possible with a powerful online ordering system that meets your needs.

Quick reorder

Branded mobile apps and online ordering systems are great for remembering customer order history - as well as being invaluable for collecting customer data and helping to improve your offerings. Returning guests can save favourite items and flag meals they want to try next. When they’re ready to order again, your interface will remember who they are and what they love. Customers can quickly find and reorder meals for a streamlined ordering process.

Saving favourite items also helps your brand recommend new options or additions. Through advanced POS technology, online ordering can become a highly personalised service that will bring your customers back for more.

Save card details

Online ordering can further streamline order flow by saving customer data such as card details for quick and simple credit card payments.

The easier the ordering process and payment processing are for customers, the more they’ll return to your business. In this way, an effective sale system and online ordering system for restaurants is as important to your brand presence as is your marketing.

Customised online ordering systems from TASK facilitate fully PCI compliant payments and card data storage. Providing secure, simple payment methods is essential in today’s digital restaurant market. Start by investing in world-class software to protect your customers’ data and your profits.

Product, menu & location imagery

With third-party vendors, a restaurant or franchise of coffee shops has little to no control over how the online ordering pages are usually hosted and how their menu is presented. It can even cost restaurants fees to substitute menu items or modify an image.

With customised online ordering as part of a restaurant’s internal system, the brand has total control over its presentation and marketing - without having to pay for expensive reprints.

As restaurant industries increasingly rely on their digital presence to find customers, it’s important now more than ever for businesses to focus on how they are perceived online.

A powerful digital or online ordering system allows brands to set exactly the image they want their customers to see. If you have a mouth-watering burger or a steaming bowl of noodles or perfect cheesy pizza slices, then share it visually on your website or mobile app!

Every food item should be Instagram-worthy; customers will be far more enticed to click on images instead of words - and pay for it too! Online ordering systems allow businesses to create a visual story and engage customers with a brand that's consistent from their website to their meal.

The other benefit of controlling products and menus is that restaurants can immediately implement changes when they're needed. If an item is running low or an ingredient is substituted to improve a dish, businesses can update their integrated POS and instantaneously update their online menu across all ordering systems. This allows restaurants to consistently provide accurate menus and avoid miscommunication - which is critical for your operations, especially when customers are ordering online and don't necessarily have the immediate option for in-person feedback.

Loyalty

In a market trending towards personalised services, customer loyalty programs are on the rise. And an intelligent online ordering system can drive better results.

45% of consumers say that offering customer loyalty programs and mobile ordering would encourage them to use online ordering more often. When you consider that there’s also a growing interest in quick, low-cost food options, it’s clear the future of the restaurant industry is heading towards better, more efficient ordering and delivery options.

In a competitive food market, loyalty programs can be the leverage you need to grow your returning customer base.

An online ordering system that integrates with a POS system is the best option for managing loyalty programs and engaging directly with repeat customers. Inbuilt loyalty systems should make it easy for guests to sign up and clearly communicate the benefits of participating.

Well-designed loyalty programs store online ordering history, payment details and offer discounts. When customers return to your restaurant’s system (i.e. your website or branded app), they should feel welcomed back and reminded of why they love your food and your service. The numbers prove it – customers who place online orders with a restaurant will come back 67% more frequently than those who don’t.

The more engaging and personal the experience, the more your customers will remember your brand and want to return. An effortless online ordering system will help you achieve just that.

Delivery

It’s no secret that the pandemic has changed the game for food delivery, with more customers turning to online orders and curbside pickup to get their quick restaurant services.

In 2021, it was reported that 60% of US consumers order takeout or delivery at least once a week. As the largest-growing market in the food industry, delivery is everything right now.

That’s why it’s important to have an optimised plan for how your restaurant business handles food deliveries and digital ordering.

First, it’s important to decide whether you wish to partner with delivery providers who can arrange services like curbside pickup, or manage your own network.

Using a provider can be a simpler way to go, and help you focus more on your internal processes. The drawback is that external partnerships lead to more commission costs and less control over the service itself.

Managing your own network is great for total brand control and can lead to better online ordering profit margins and marketing. However, it’s an extra layer of business and management that you and your restaurant will need to account for.

Get stats on how you are performing

Successful restaurant businesses are data-driven. Whether you’re dine-in, takeout, or delivery only, it’s vital to know exactly what your customers want. More data means more information and better performance, and digital ordering makes that possible.

Although third-party vendors can help a new business tap into a wider range of customers, they can’t provide you with information about who those customers are. User agreements often exclude third-party apps from sharing their wealth of consumer data with restaurants, which then puts those insights out of reach of your marketing tools.

To access the information that you’re looking for – the who, what, where and when of your customers – you’ll need to rely on a centralised tech stack from your POS. The integrated online ordering platform will provide you with:

  • Customer contact information
  • Detailed order history
  • Peak ordering times and locations
  • Statistics on how customers engage with your interface

Using this data, restaurants can use their marketing tools and directly market to their customers through email campaigns, targeted promotions and special offers. Information stored and analysed through an internal central POS system can be incredibly powerful for your brand.

Reporting

Online ordering - sometimes called digital ordering - makes reporting convenient and easy. Whether you are tracking sales, financial or marketing data, POS systems can help you quickly create progress reports.

Using your own customisable online ordering system means you don’t have to manually collate data from multiple sales points, as you would if using a third-party vendor. Instead, use profit report analysis from your centralised tech stack to create solutions for your brand.

Dietary Requirements

Ordering personalisation goes beyond just customer preferences – special requests also mean safer meals for guests with allergies or dietary restrictions.

It’s now estimated that 32 million Americans have a food allergy, emphasising just how important it is for restaurants to accommodate special dietary and cooking requirements.

Whether your business markets to specific diets (such as a gluten-free or vegetarian kitchen) or if you’re just looking to make more of your items allergy-adaptable, an online ordering system can help.

Smart POS design can easily integrate common dietary requests into the ordering process. That might include clicking an extra box to ‘make it vegan’ or ‘substitute dairy-free cheese’. Depending on your menu and your brand focus, there are infinite choices and opportunities to tailor the ordering process towards customers with dietary needs.

These options also extend to cooking instructions. Online ordering allows customers to specify how they’d prefer their steak cooked or whether they’d like their sandwich cold or toasted.

By offering simple communication tools and easy touchpoints for add-ons and requests, online ordering makes the entire ordering flow more efficient and accurate. Customers can clearly iterate their needs, and staff can easily accommodate the communicated changes.

Self-Ordering-at-Table

Cut wait times, long lines and front of house staff hours. Self-ordering is increasingly becoming a better option for QSRs to serve dine-in customers.

There are a few methods of managing table self-ordering, but the most common is through QR codes. Customers use their phone to scan the code, which automatically brings them to the restaurant’s online ordering interface. They can browse the digital menu, place their order and even process payment – all without needing to flag down waitstaff.

By putting control in the customer’s hands, self-ordering solves the most common service and communication issues like waiting to order or receive the bill.

The nature of table self-ordering is also “frictionless” or “no-touch”. This system, limiting face-to-face contact with staff, complies with heightened social distancing requirements and sanitation protocols.

Contactless, efficient and customer-friendly. Table self-ordering is absolutely a growing trend in restaurant technology that can bring your workflow and customer experience to the next level.

Conclusion

In the last two years, the pandemic has truly transformed consumer demands in the food industry. Online ordering has never been more popular, and it’s a trend that’s here to stay. Projections show that delivery sales worldwide will become a $365 billion industry by 2030.

To capitalise on this enormous opportunity, it’s crucial that restaurant businesses develop customised, integrated online ordering systems and online ordering software that fit their brand. Set yourself up for success by prioritising customer personalisation and streamlining the (digital) ordering process.

To learn more about online ordering, talk to the team at TASK and invest in world-class restaurant technology to help your business soar.