As a customer, there’s something incredibly frustrating about getting to your favorite restaurant, only to find that the wait is out the door.  You either have to put your name on a list and wait for an unknown amount of time–and let’s face it, the estimated wait times never seem to be that accurate–or you have to figure out a different place to go.  Faced with options like these, it’s no wonder that the recent trend of online ordering has exploded in recent years.  From the comfort of your home, your car, or practically anywhere, you can order a meal and have it ready to get picked up at your convenience–what’s not to love?

That’s why it’s important for restaurants today to capitalize on the rising popularity of online ordering systems.  By digitizing their ordering experience, restaurants can give their customers the chance to experience all the culinary joys available on the menu, while not having to put up with the hassle of crowds or other inconveniences.  It’s a great option to help loyal customers keep coming back, even when a busy evening or work schedule makes it impossible for them to commit to the full dining experience.  At the same time, new customers might be more willing to try out a restaurant if they know there are a full range of options available to them in the future.

So, what are some ways that restaurants can cater to the needs and desires of their customers, and fully take advantage of this service?

1. Expand into social media

It’s simply not enough anymore to slap a PDF of your menu onto your restaurant and call it a day.  Sure, customers will come to your website if they’ve heard of you, but otherwise, what’s their motivation?  Advertising on social media sites like Facebook is a quick and relatively cheap way to get your brand in front of a lot of people in a short amount of time.  You can include information like your location, hours, and menu for potential customers to view.  And the great news is that you can even build in an ordering system, so customers can order their meals straight through Facebook.  A satisfied customer often results in a “like” and a “share,” which then takes the concept of word-of-mouth advertising to a whole new level.

2. Build an app

Honestly?  No one simply buys something through the mobile web anymore.  If someone is going to shop or spend money from their phone, it’s pretty much always done through a dedicated app, and ordering from a favorite restaurant should be no different.  It is not difficult to build an app that is tailored specifically to the needs of your own restaurant experience, and the features that can be built into an app allow for a good bit of personalization, as customers can select favorites and other options to streamline and customize the ordering experience to best fit their wants.

3. Include some sort of loyalty program

Loyalty programs are pretty common now, so the idea of expanding one to include your digital market shouldn’t be too far-fetched.  Since apps and websites can keep track of orders placed, it’s not difficult to think that customers can be rewarded for using the service in much the same way that they can be when going to the restaurant and dining in person.  Whether you decide to reward someone based on dollars spent, items ordered, or number of orders placed, the inclusion of a loyalty program will help ensure a customer’s return.

4.  Match the special offers

For a customer, one of the most frustrating experiences with online ordering (other than the order not going through or being incorrect) is ordering and paying for food, only to find that the same order would have cost less in person.  Not only is it frustrating, but it’s simply not fair, and it’s one of the quickest ways to lose an otherwise loyal fan to a competitor.  If you are going to have a special, it’s a good idea to have that special available, regardless of the ordering method.

If all this sounds daunting, it shouldn’t.  The good news is, there are people out there who are ready to help you make this transition to the world of online ordering.  If you are interested in taking your restaurant to the next level, if you want to give customers a first-class service experience regardless of whether they order in person or from the comfort of their home, and if you know that your restaurant needs to be with the times instead of behind them, then you owe it to yourself to talk to the experts at They have the tools, knowledge, and experience, to turn your restaurant into a digital giant.  Contact them today!