Over the past five years, online ordering has exploded in popularity among both consumers and restaurants simply because it benefits all concerned. According to National Restaurant Association, four out of five restaurant owners believe that technology makes restaurants more productive, increases profits, and provides an improved customer experience. This certainly seems to be the case with online ordering. This technology is no longer a point for a restaurant to differentiate from the competition; it is becoming necessary just to keep up. In its report “Mapping the Restaurant Technology Landscape,” the National Restaurant Association reveals the following statistics,
37% offer online ordering
37% of operators believe the most important area of tech in the next five years is online ordering
32% consider their restaurants to be lagging when it comes to technology use
12% consider their systems to be cutting-edge
Improving Productivity with Online Ordering
Improved productivity is quickly evident since employees are not tied up on the phone or at the counter. Once online ordering is active, a restaurant should be able to reduce the number of employees tasked for order taking, allowing them to be free to assist elsewhere. For restaurants offering delivery, this shift could be critical as online ordering will likely increase needs for extra drivers. Not to mention that taking orders during a rush is stressful. Eliminating this from your staff’s duties will lead to happier employees and a more relaxed fun work environment.
Increasing Profits with Online Ordering
There are several ways that profits are increased by online ordering. Research has shown that online ordering increases the frequency of purchases, increases in the total check, improved productivity, reduced overhead, and improved marketing opportunities.
Restaurants using online ordering report more frequent orders and increases in large-group or catering orders, likely due to the ease of placing an order. A study by Cornell University found that, on average, operators who engaged in online ordering saw increases of frequency in these areas,
Takeout orders increased by 42.5%
Delivery by 28.5%
Catering increased by 14.2%
In addition, the price of the average check increases by around 30% with online ordering. The study went on to indicate that all participating restaurant operators said that their expectations were either met or exceeded in terms of ROI.
Overhead costs that are affected by online ordering include reduction in on-boarding and training hours and elimination of expensive customer non-payment and no-show issues. Order accuracy is a benefit closely related to customer experience, but also impacts profit margin, as it directly translates to fewer complaints, send-backs, and comped tickets.
Because of the nature of online ordering, there exists a unique opportunity to offer targeted marketing. Special offers sent through text or app notifications are more likely to result in repeat business. Additionally, the data collected from purchases is valuable to your marketing team. It can be used to track the patron’s buying habits and create successful marketing campaigns. Monitoring and collecting key metrics takes much of the guesswork out of marketing and this dramatically affects your ROI in this area.
Improving the Customer Experience with Online Ordering
People, especially Millennials, love ordering things online. Most likely this has to do with the amount of time we spend online. It is convenient to go to an app or a website and peruse a menu, then place our order, when we are ready. Add to that the fact that Millennials simply despise making phone calls and you can begin to see the attraction. Early on, studies showed that restaurant operators were concerned that online ordering would negatively impact the customer experience. While it does seem contrary to conventional reasoning, providing online ordering is actually one way to increase engagement and improve customer relationships.
Online ordering offers user greater control over the ordering process. This, along with the ability for the user to customize their order through add-ons and extras makes customers actively seek restaurants that offer online ordering. Order accuracy is another factor that benefits both the restaurant and the diner. Picky eaters need not worry that they were misheard and staff won’t have to worry about if they heard the customer correctly.
Another facet of online ordering that influences the customer experience is the ability to find out what your customers like and more easily identify areas for improvement. Follow-up is a tenant of retail marketing that restaurants have fallen short on, traditionally. Post-experience surveys are easily integrated ways to engage customers and gather important data. Was their experience satisfactory? Did they have any concerns? Ask the right questions and you can gain a better understanding of the online and mobile ordering system as well as your restaurant’s overall performance.
A restaurant may offer online ordering via their own website, stand-alone mobile app, through a multi-restaurant site or mobile app, by text message, and even through Facebook. It is no longer an option for restaurants wishing to remain relevant and competitive. Fortunately, research shows that restaurants that engage in online ordering enjoy the benefits of greater productivity, increased profits, and improved customer relationships.
Rafi Cohen, a graduate of Baruch College & Brooklyn native is the Co-Founder @ Orders2me, an online ordering platform that gives restaurant owners all the features they need to grow their business in the digital age.
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