If you have any doubt of how big and important online ordering has become in the modern economy, look no further than the announcement in September that one of the largest companies in the world now offers online ordering in a select few lucky markets. Starting in a few pilot markets with the intention of expanding, Walmart now offers online grocery ordering to make customer shopping easier.
While ordering groceries for pick-up from a major retailer aren’t quite the same as ordering prepared food from a local restaurant, the two have more in common than you might think. And exploring why online ordering is getting popular in other industries sheds light on the reasons why this emerging technology is so beneficial for restaurant owners.
Online ordering in industries like retail has been inspired by the success of the technology in the restaurant industry, and online ordering will continue to spread throughout the economy as it continues to prove successful in the food service economy. Here are three reasons why even Walmart is now offering online ordering.
1. Online Ordering is a Win-Win
Most of the time, new practices that are good for businesses aren’t great for customers, and visa versa. But one of the most appealing things about online ordering, and one of the reasons why it has become so popular so quickly, is that online ordering truly provides a “win-win” scenario for both businesses and customers.
From a customer perspective, online ordering provides convenience, and makes everyday errands quicker and easier. In the restaurant business, online ordering makes it possible for diners to enjoy their favorite dishes via delivery or pick-up without ever needing to make a phone call. In other industries, online ordering can be just as much of a time saver, making grocery shopping a breeze in Walmart’s case.
For businesses, online ordering can be a new source of revenue, bringing in customer dollars that wouldn’t be spent otherwise. Businesses are able to provide a product to customers more quickly and easily thanks to online ordering, but that added efficiency is a “win” for everyone from Walmart to restaurants thanks to the extra profits that are generated along the way.
2. Customers Are Getting Accustomed to Online Ordering
When early online ordering companies like Eat24 and Seamless launched in the restaurant industry, there wasn’t a widespread example to follow, and customers had to learn about online ordering for the first time when they used one of these food service solutions. But thanks to the massive successes of these companies and others, online ordering has become a well-known and widely utilized convenience.
As customers become more and more accustomed to the convenience of online ordering, other industries like retail have less of an “uphill battle” to fight in marketing ordering in their niche. Walmart didn’t need to reinvent the wheel, and only had to adopt the online ordering practices already offered at local restaurants around the country. The growing prevalence of online ordering is a good thing for restaurant owners, too. As more and more people become accustomed to the convenience of online ordering, restaurants that adopt this technology will have a wider potential customer base to draw from.
The growth of online ordering has changed consumer behavior, and it has done so in a way that will continue to help online ordering grow. In this way, Walmart and large business in other industries that adopt online ordering will continue to expose more consumers to the technology’s potential, and will continue to make online ordering a convenience that customers come to expect and rely on.
3. In the Modern Economy, Inertia is Death
It might seem like a risky move for a company as big and successful as Walmart to invest in online ordering but consider the alternative. If Walmart didn’t pursue online ordering first, and aggressively, big competitors like Target and Kmart might cash in on the potential customers that online ordering can bring first. Yes, investing in a young and emerging technology like online ordering when you have as much to lose as Walmart does is risky, but ignoring technological trends and waiting for your competitors to beat you to the punch is even riskier.
While the pace of the modern economy can be unsettling for restaurant owners and business leaders in all industries, there is no value in standing still while technology progresses in the outside world. Walmart didn’t have to adopt online ordering earlier this year, but not doing so could have meant that the super-chain ended up at a massive disadvantage down the road. And the same is true for restaurant owners.
No one is forcing restaurant owners to adopt online ordering technologies, but not doing so leads to inertia, and inertia can be death. Walmart adopted online ordering for the same reasons that many restaurant owners should consider the practice: top not do so would be dangerous. That’s the way the economy is moving, and in the modern economy, anyone who doesn’t keep up with the times could face extinction.
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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We are on a mission to help local restaurants thrive in the new digital economy. Our blog is designed to give local restaurants best practices from some of the top restaurants in the world today.