In the short time span of the last five years, ordering food has evolved to the point that what was once the purview of science fiction is now reality. Anyone, in any city in the United States, can now easily pick up a smartphone or tablet and order a complete meal to be picked up or delivered within 30 minutes. Thanks to mobile internet technology and better point-of-sale integration, online ordering for takeout and delivery is now a reality for every type of meal, from fast food favorites to gourmet haute cuisine. The million dollar question on every restaurateur’s mind in 2017 is this: is my business ready for the future of food ordering? Here are a few points you need to consider to ensure that you are riding the wave of the ongoing food ordering revolution instead of being washed away by the momentum of progress.
Your Online Ordering System Needs to be Mobile-Optimized
If you do not already have a smartphone/mobile OS application for customers to order food from your restaurant, you need to make sure that your online ordering system is set up to function correctly on mobile-optimized web browsers. Sixty-five percent of all web access and e-commerce is conducted via smartphone or tablet since 2014. Given the ever-decreasing price of smart devices and mobile internet and the ever-increasing availability of mobile internet access options, that trend is only going to increase. Your site is not going to earn for you unless people can readily access your menu and order food online without having to navigate a full-size web page on a smartphone screen.
It is Time to Develop a Custom Mobile App
The principle of “If you build it, they will come” is the reality of customized mobile apps for online food ordering. Every food provider, from McDonald’s to independent gourmet restaurants in major metropolitan areas, has built a mobile app for custom-ordering items on their menu. It is simpler, faster and easier to track than using a mobile website and having customers log in to your mobile-friendly website. It is also a more secure method of storing customers’ favorite orders and their payment information for future orders. Customer information security is a hot-button issue this year due to highly publicized data breaches at various financial institutions. Having a secure mobile app is going to be of paramount importance to your customers. Adding the additional layer of security that a mobile app provides not only protects you from data breach liability, but also provides your customers with an additional layer of peace of mind whenever you do business with them.
Eliminate the Potential for Human Error in Your POS System
Many restaurants that offer online ordering are still not maximizing their investments. Some still have to integrate their online orders with their existing POS system. Others need to upgrade their POS to be compatible with online ordering. Your online orders need to catch up with modern times and go directly to your POS system without the need for a human being to enter
them manually and then total the order out.
Adding a person to that process introduces the possibility that orders will be keyed incorrectly on the POS. If orders come in when your staff is busy and there are several customers waiting in line, mistakes happen. Refunds, returns and unhappy customers are the natural consequences that follow. Do not let this happen to your staff at your successful restaurant. Make sure that orders go directly from your website or app to the POS system. Your customers and your servers will thank you, and you will save a tremendous amount of time and money by eliminating ordering errors from your fulfillment process.
Find a Third-Party Delivery Solution if you Cannot Provide That Service
More and more, customers are making delivery (even with a fee) the rule rather than the exception. If you do not have plans to offer delivery in the near future, or you are unable to provide delivery based on your location, then you need to start researching third-party options for food delivery. Services like UberEats and GrubHub are new online providers that are taking delivery orders and bringing hot and ready meals to customers, regardless of where they live and whether or not the restaurant has an online ordering system or offers delivery. The money going to those third-party services that take orders online and deliver the food could be increasing your monthly revenue instead. Time is of the essence if you want to stay competitive.
Overall, food ordering has gone online and delivery is quickly following in its footsteps. If you have not already adapted your business and upgraded your digital presence, get started now. There is no reason to wait; the vast plethora of data available to support digitizing your food ordering and synchronizing your online ordering with your point of sale system all overwhelmingly support readying your business for the future of food ordering. If you are not already on board, you are quickly falling behind. Do your research, and get caught up before it is too late.