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Discover why you should integrate online ordering directly on your restaurant website without relying on third-party online ordering platforms - and save time and money, too.
When asked to name a pioneering business in e-commerce, which company comes to mind? Most people think of a large online retailer like Amazon or a marketplace website like eBay. Surprisingly, the first-ever online purchase was an online order from Pizza Pizza in 1994 - an innovative restaurant using their website to reach new customers and generate sales.
Online ordering has continued to grow in popularity and sophistication since that first pizza order more than 25 years ago. Customers are eager to follow and support their favorite businesses online and place more online orders than ever. In North America, the online ordering market is now valued at over $25B and is currently growing 13% per year.
If your restaurant has yet to integrate online ordering into your restaurant website, you're missing out on a large slice of a fast-growing market. This article will discuss what online ordering is, how restaurants benefit from using online ordering on their websites, and how you can start a restaurant website with online ordering today.
What is Online Ordering?
Online ordering allows customers to place orders directly through your restaurant website. Restaurant customers can click on menu items to begin an order, choose their order pickup or delivery time, and submit payment within a few clicks. Incoming orders and payments are sent directly to your restaurant - all you have to do is prepare the order at the right time.
Sure, third-party apps like Uber Eats and GrubHub can take orders and payments as well, but here's a big difference: on your own website, you're the boss. By cutting out the middle man, you can set your own prices, schedules, and build direct relationships with your customers. No more waiting for weekly payments with huge commission fees deducted, no more competing against restaurants with bigger budgets for higher ranks and visibility. You'll regain control over the entire guest experience while keeping more of your hard-earned money in your pocket.
How do restaurants benefit from integrating online ordering on their website?
Online ordering systems work hard to automate the routine parts of your restaurant's customer service experience. Using an online ordering system can help convert your restaurant's website visitors into paying customers and build customer relationships. Your restaurant will also benefit from an increase in cash flow, sales opportunities, and operational efficiency. Let's examine each of these benefits of online ordering for restaurants in detail:
1 - Online ordering converts restaurant website visitors into paying customers.
You work hard to promote your restaurant online and drive customers to your website. The easiest way to convert website visitors into paying customers is to integrate online ordering directly on your restaurant website. Customers will be able to browse menus, order items, and pay all in one website visit. You'll save customers the trouble of calling your restaurant or opening a restaurant app to place an order.
Has your restaurant attracted a large following on social media channels like Instagram and Facebook? You can drive your followers to your online ordering website, making it easy and convenient for customers to support their favorite restaurant regularly.
2 - Online ordering builds strong relationships with restaurant customers.
Your online ordering system keeps track of all online orders in a database that acts as a built-in customer relationship management system. You'll be able to view each customer's order history, receive feedback, and make changes to improve customer experience. Your customer information will become a powerful marketing tool that can be used to develop strong customer relationships, send out targeted email marketing campaigns, and deliver personalized service that encourages customer loyalty. Restaurant customers who choose to order online will soon become as familiar to you as those who prefer to dine in.
In comparison, when you rely on a third-party delivery platform to manage your customers, you build a relationship with the platform, not your guests. You don't have access to the customer information that could be used to improve your guest experience. In the end, your guests end up becoming loyal Uber or GrubHub clients, rather than supporting your restaurant exclusively.
3 - Online ordering increases sales opportunities.
Your website is open for businesses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and accessible to anyone, anywhere with a computer or mobile device. Integrating online ordering on your restaurant website means customers can place an order any time, even long after your restaurant is closed for the day. Customers will enjoy the convenience of placing a coffee shop order for pickup early the next morning or planning a special meal for delivery weeks in advance. Online ordering systems also process orders simultaneously - you'll never lose a sale due to a busy phone line.
Online ordering customers also tend to spend more per order. When a customer orders online, they have the luxury of taking their time to review the whole menu as opposed to being rushed on the phone or in line at the restaurant. They're more likely to upgrade their meal size or add dessert to their order without the "guilt" or perceived judgment from ordering in person.
4 - Online ordering increases cash flow.
Setting up online ordering on your restaurant website means retaining control over the entire payment process. You'll be able to adjust menu prices, custom fees, tip amounts, and delivery fees and let your online ordering system take care of collecting online payment securely. Your online ordering system will process all transactions in real-time, which means payment is collected immediately and deposited into your bank account daily. You can improve cash flow by choosing to make online payment mandatory before orders are placed, reducing costly no-shows. You'll also save money by eliminating hefty commission fees from third-party websites and apps, which means more money in your pocket.
Want to calculate how much money your restaurant will save by switching from a third-party delivery marketplace? Check out Sociavore's Online Ordering Savings Calculator and see how much you'll save by switching to commission-free online ordering.
5 - Online ordering increases restaurant efficiency.
Online ordering empowers your customers to self-serve when browsing menu options, configuring takeout or delivery, and submitting payment information. You'll save time by letting your customers perform these tasks, which frees up your restaurant staff to do what it does best - make delicious food and provide excellent customer service.
Online ordering systems also improve restaurant efficiency by reducing human error. You won't have to worry about overcharging, undercharging, or providing the wrong change for customers as they'll always pay the correct price for the items they order. Your online ordering system automatically generates customer receipts and detailed sales reports to make bookkeeping a breeze.
How can I start a restaurant website with online ordering today?
If your restaurant has a huge marketing budget, you may consider hiring a web development expert to design a custom solution unique to your restaurant's operational needs. This method will give you complete control over the features & user experience of your restaurant website. However, custom development has huge upfront & ongoing maintenance costs and takes a long time to get online.
If you want a cheaper & quicker online ordering solution, you may try integrating your restaurant website with a third-party e-commerce platform. This method is more affordable than custom web development, though you are still charged a monthly fee and/or transaction fees every time your customer places an order. However, successfully integrating an e-commerce platform into your restaurant website requires time, patience, and a large amount of technical skill. Most third-party e-commerce platforms are built and developed for online retailers, not restaurants - you'll have to adapt your restaurant's workflow to accommodate the platform.
The best online ordering solution for restaurants today is Sociavore. Sociavore's all-in-one restaurant management platform includes everything you need to manage your business online, including built-in online ordering powered by Square payments. Developed by restaurant people for restaurant owners, Sociavore's online ordering system seamlessly integrates into your restaurant's workflow by generating digital chits and sending them directly to the kitchen. Your customers will enjoy the convenience of one-page checkout, and you'll enjoy the cost savings of commission-free online ordering.