9 Advantages of Online Food Ordering for Restaurants

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To run a viable restaurant in today's business climate, you must offer online food ordering. The advantages include higher revenues, fewer mistakes on food orders and much, much more! 

Fumbling over the phone, bad reception while taking an order, and the ramifications of a long line of live customers delayed by recurring phone-in orders can result in less traffic at your restaurant. While more quick-service and pizzeria customers order in person than over the phone right now, that may not be the case for much longer.

In fact, restaurants have experienced great success with online food ordering systems. Guests can take their time, clarify their order, and be precise before pushing the button to place their orders.

We took a look at a group of restaurants using online food ordering systems and found that they make 23% more on those orders than in-store orders. Yet despite this type of data, many skeptics are slow to integrate an online food-ordering system with their point of sale. Alas, those restaurant owners are missing out on maximizing their profit margins.

Even those who recognize the movement and offer online ordering may only do so through a third-party website. As a result, they appeal to lots of customers but lose a hefty chunk of revenues with each order along the way.

This is not the case for restaurants that use an in-house online ordering software through their point of sale system. These restaurateurs reap higher profits per sale than competitors using a third-party service. They also glean important insights on individual customers, customer trends, a customizable user experience/interface, and more.

For the remaining skeptics, here are nine reasons why you should adopt an online ordering system that is integrated with your point of sale to improve efficiency:

Toast we power successful restaurants of all sizes. By combining point of sale, front of house, back of house, and guest-facing technology with an unrivaled commitment to customer success we enable our community of restaurateurs to delight their guests, do what they love, and thrive.

Advantage #1: Demand for Online Ordering is Real

Offering online ordering conveys to your customer base that you are a modern restaurant and want to be convenient and accessible for all of your guests. Here are a few stats to prove this paradigm shift:

  • Since 2014, roughly 30% of diners between the ages of 18-54 have ordered food from a restaurant's website via their phone or tablet.
  • Toast, a restaurant technology company, notes that online ordering makes up 8-10% of overall sales for its top 10 FSR users.
  • Toast estimates that online ordering makes up 15-18% of overall sales for its top 10 QSR users.
  • QSR Web found that digital restaurant ordering is growing 300 percent faster than dine-in traffic.
  • According to a survey by NPD Group, more delivery orders will soon be placed online than over the phone. 

Advantage #2: Online Ordering Boosts Revenues

Online ordering lets your guests place an order more conveniently, and on their own time frame. Without feeling pressure to wrap up their order, customers are more inclined to explore all of the menu options. Often, they wind up spending more than they would when ordering over the phone or in person. This results in digital orders being $4 more on average than non-digital orders. Just imagine what an extra $4 per order could do for the bottom line of your restaurant!

Advantage #3: You Won't Sacrifice Customer Interactions

Restaurateurs might believe online ordering removes the human interaction between their staff and their guests, but this is a misconception. While customers won't be speaking with employees over the phone, they still need to converse with someone when picking up their food, or with their delivery driver. These interactions will be less rushed, and your staff will still be focused on satisfying the customer. If anything, an online ordering program could increase the positive perception your guests have of your restaurant. 

Advantage #4: Order Accuracy Improves

"Can you repeat that, sir?"

 "I'm sorry, I think you're breaking up!"

These interjections are all too familiar for anyone who takes orders over the phone. Inevitably, a misunderstanding occurs or an employee takes down the wrong order. That results in angry customers, wasted food, and a disappointed manager. With online orders, the customer makes everything clear on their end. Everything is in writing, so there is no mix-up.

Reasons to Integrate an In-House Online Food Ordering System

Now that we've established the value of an online ordering system for restaurants, the next step is learning why that system should operate in-house. That answer is simple. You should make significantly more money by having an in-house, internally managed online food ordering system instead of using a third-party online ordering site that charges a percentage of your profits for its services. Some of the most significant advantages include:

Advantage #5: It's Customizable to Fit Your Needs & Guests' Needs

With your own online ordering platform, you can make instant, real-time changes to your menu and design. You'll retain control over your own brand, and customers will be looking at the website you created when they place their orders. Update your food images every day, if you'd like, to reflect daily specials.

Advantage #6: You Get to Keep the Profits

Unlike an online ordering aggregate site, hosting an online ordering system from your restaurant's point of sale means you keep all the revenue from the transaction. No more losing profit percentages to a middleman. Instead, paying a flat fee for this functionality allows you to budget for that expense and set prices accordingly. The more you sell, the more profit you earn.

Advantage #7: You Won't Lose Business to the Competition

Some online ordering sites host vicious bidding wars between restaurants, with some businesses offering up to 30% of their revenue per-order to earn a spot at the top of the search results. Alerting your customers that you operate your own online ordering platform through social media pages, Google My Business, and take-out menus eliminate that issue. A proprietary site eliminates the potential of someone looking for you online and ordering from one of your competitors instead.

Advantage #8: In-House Online Ordering Can Coexist with Third-Party Websites

Offering restaurant online ordering through an external source has its benefits, particularly in large markets. It's a great way to expose your business to new customers, but every subsequent order they place through GrubHub, or DoorDash will continue to direct money to that site. Instead, print receipts or menus offering a 10% discount on their next online order through your own site. This will save money for you and your customers on future orders. It's a win-win scenario, and you can still work with third-party websites to get your name exposed to new customers.

Advantage #9: You Collect Valuable Customer Data

In a business where knowing your customers' desires is an enormous advantage, in-house online ordering offers a great way to get that insight. Unlike third-party online ordering vendors, in-house food ordering systems allow you to record customer information and order patterns for every transaction. With this data, you now know who your regular online customers are, what they're ordering the most, and when they order from your restaurant. You can begin targeting them with direct advertising to stimulate future sales.

Online Food Ordering Systems: a Win for Your Restaurant

As time passes, online ordering for restaurants will play an even bigger role in the food-service industry than it already does. To be a vital part of the future, be sure and create your own, in-house, online food ordering system today!