6 reasons why every restaurant should utilize online ordering

As we continue to adjust to the social distancing norms of 2020, many businesses have made a pivot to online sales. But there are still many restaurants who continue to take orders over the phone for take out and delivery. Earlier this month, we ordered take-out over the phone from one of our favourite local businesses for an agreed time later that night. When our order was ready early, they tried to call us but had taken down our phone number wrong, so our food sat there hot for who knows how long. Order accuracy is one of the bigger weaknesses for restaurants and food-centric businesses only offering take-out over the phone. Sometimes the delivery address is misunderstood, and the food doesn’t reach its destination, or the kitchen is so loud that the person answering the phone can’t hear the order properly. Whatever may be the case, it leaves the customer frustrated and looking for better options next time.

In an entirely different experience, last week, we ordered take-out online from our favourite brewery through their custom website. The food was paid for online, and an accurate time was given to pick it up. When we arrived at the window, it was ready, and no payment was needed so no further contact was necessary to complete the transaction. Given the choice between the two experiences, we would pick the brewery every time.

In a competitive space like the restaurant industry, restaurant owners need to make the customer experience pleasant and painless. Without the ability to have dine-in customers right now, having a seamless ordering system in place is paramount to a restaurant’s success during this time. If you’re not convinced, we’ve got 6 reasons why your restaurant should be offering online ordering right now:

Smart person checking out the UnicycleDigital.com Blog, then ordering Sushi

1. Improves Customer Experience

Case in point: our two experiences of ordering over the phone, vs. online. Having an online menu gives the customer time to peruse everything on offer and add things to their cart. It allows them to select exactly what they like, make notes or customize the options, see images of the food, and more often than not, add items they normally would not if they were dining in.
The customer gets to complete the order on their time, wherever they may be. Maybe they don’t want to pause Tiger King, or their basement gets no cell signal. Being able to order with a mobile device allows customers to complete their transaction wherever they are, at their own convenience. Many online ordering systems allow for ordering hours in advance, which some people prefer to do, knowing their food will be ready when they like, not based on when they can get through on the phone. Customers can review their order, pay, and know everything is going to be accurate when they pick it up or have it delivered. Convenience is king in 2020.

Ordering from a restaurant on a phone

2. No Service Fees

When restaurants host their own online ordering system, they are not subject to the large fees that the delivery services charge. Many of these delivery services charge restaurants a fee of 25-35% per order. Over the course of the year, this can add up to significant profit loss. With an initial investment of setting up a new website, the restaurant can quickly recoup their investment by saving this percentage over time.

Damn. I don't know what this is, but I know I want to eat it.

3. Complete control over brand and user experience

When a restaurant uses a custom website for online orders, they get complete control over the aesthetics, user experience, and overall branding. This website becomes their calling card for years to come. Not only can the website include a menu, but they can also share their story, seasonal promotions or any other topical news they would like to include on their website. They can even build a reservation system for the future when dine-in becomes an option again. A profile on a delivery app does not allow a restaurant to connect with their customers in the same way.

Sushi

4. Saves time on labour

Restaurants that offer take-out via phone in orders must dedicate a member (or two) of staff to answering those calls throughout the night. With an online ordering system, orders are automatically sent to a central spot where they are easily communicated with the kitchen and front of house staff. This frees up that member of staff to be performing other necessary duties to keep the restaurant running efficiently. The time to complete a transaction also decreases on the restaurant side as staff are not stuck on the phone answering questions or explaining options to customers. With online ordering, customers find out all the information they need online and can complete the order at the same time as other customers without needing to be on hold. Nobody wants to be on hold.

Burger in a takeout container

5. Guaranteed money up front

Customers appreciate being able to pay online and have everything settled prior to receiving their food – especially during social distancing. Having this step eliminated inside the restaurant makes the pick-up or delivery experience that much simpler on everyone. Even better, the restaurant gets their payment prior to preparing the food, and the customer does not have to worry about using a communal payment portal inside the restaurant. Win-win for everyone!

Several takeout items, including sushi, a rice dish, and a banana and strawberry dessert.

6. Increases sales

The average online order (in British Columbia, Canada) adds up to roughly $50. If restaurants must pay $12.50 for that order on service fees, they are losing money. Not only does having a custom online ordering website remove service fees, but it also allows the restaurant to control the customer experience. They choose when to offer add-ons or up-sales at any point in the purchase. Customers are not stuck discussing their questions or preferences with a busy member of staff but can take their time to select exactly what they are looking for – often ordering more than they would over the phone.

In today’s world, people expect to be able to conduct their purchases online. Restaurants should be no exception, and in the time of social distancing, there is no better time than now to get your menu online on your own platform.

If you are interested in creating an online ordering system for your business, reach out today to get the process started. It’s much easier than you think, and the return on investment is quickly realized when the large service fees are eliminated. Start the process by filling in our “Start Project” questionnaire and we’ll get back to you with a no obligation proposal.