Online ordering, a wonderful way for restaurants to increase their sales and provide better customer support and engagement, has come a long way since 1999, when a Dataquest Inc/Gartner Group. study found that 20 percent of households who placed online orders experienced problems. Nearly half said their orders didn’t arrive, but many were billed anyway. Others were unable to contact the customer service department.
While these don’t continue to be common problems, there are others that many restaurants see when implementing an online ordering system. Learn the most common barriers to success and see your online ordering take off.
When hungry customers want to order online, they don’t want to spend their time navigating a complicated menu that doesn’t allow them to easily modify or add to their food selection. For example, online pizza ordering sites should have separate sections for the crust and all of its options, like seasoning, thick or thin, stuffed, a section for the sauce, a section for the cheese, and a section for all of the other toppings.
If customers try to order online and find that the menu is confusing or complicated, they will more than likely click away from the site and abandon their cart, if they were able to put anything inside. If you find in your analytics that there is a larger number of people visiting your online ordering page and the numbers exceed the numbers of people who are, in fact, ordering online, checking your online ordering process might point toward a complicated menu and ordering system. ‘
Troubleshooting Tip: Go through your online ordering process yourself, and as a few others who are unbiased to do the same. If anyone experiences any difficulties, consider re-designing your ordering layout.
Once an order has been placed online, it needs to pass through several landing spots. The order needs to get to the restaurant, into the kitchen, and into the point-of-sale program. Once that’s been done, the food needs to be made and then prepared for delivery, which includes bagging the food, including any utensils or condiments, and checking to make sure all of the components have been placed in the bag. The employee responsible for deliveries usually has several deliveries at once, so all of the bags and orders need to be placed in warming bags to keep hot foods hot, and then delivered to the customer who ordered.
If a hungry customer finds that the wait time is longer than expected or predicted, there is less of a chance of returning to purchase again, and a greater probability that the customer will call to locate the order. If you’re receiving these calls, you might find that there is a gap in the system that is causing a glitch or hang-up in the order processing system.
Troubleshooting Tip: Observe each part of the online ordering system, from start to finish, to audit the various steps involved. Consider adding a ticker that tracks the process and allows customers to see the status of their order.
It’s vital for restaurants taking online orders to ensure they have the infrastructure in place to handle large volumes of online orders. A high-profile marketing campaign, as well as increased exposure, can lead to a large number of online orders being placed, which can tax a system not designed to handle such capacity. As a result, customers will be left with re-direct pages, timed-out messages, and blank web pages, and you’ll probably be getting phone calls that hint of frustration while trying to order.
Troubleshooting Tip: Talk with your IT team about the capabilities in place with your system. It’s important that your program can handle not only your current customers, but also the growth you are projecting for your online sales.
With such a sharp increase in the number of customers ordering from apps and smartphones, having an online ordering system that isn’t mobile-friendly could cause a problem in your overall sales. Monitor your analytics to see how customers are accessing your Web page and online ordering system.
Troubleshooting Tip: Consider creating an easy-to-use app to take orders. Having a mobile-optimized Website is also valuable, as some customers might use their device’s browser to order, instead of an app.
There are many great reasons to offer online ordering — we’ve discussed some before — but to have an effective system, it’s imperative that the system flows well and provides customers with prompt, accurate service and orders.
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.