How Online Ordering Can Add to the Bottom Line
4 Min Read By Kyle Bagley
Most restaurants can’t physically grow larger, but in the digital age, brick-and-mortar parameters don’t limit business goals. Online ordering websites and mobile applications make transactions easy and increase profit margins since many take-out diners buy more food but require less service than traditional customers.
E-commerce is a $200 billion industry that grows by about 15 percent per year, according to Entrepreneur online media outlet. Is it time for your restaurant to tap into this growing trend?
Follow the Customers
Customer engagement through online ordering sets a precedent for further web interaction.
Most restaurateurs would opt to open a restaurant on a bright, open street corner in a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. After all, they want to be where people are.
Currently, that bright, open street corner isn’t a physical place; it’s online. That’s where diners and consumers in general gather. About 43 percent of consumers have placed a takeout or delivery order online, according to research from the National Restaurant Association.
Mobile ordering is a way to meet diners where they’re comfortable. According to the Restaurant Social Media Index, 65 percent of location-based traffic on social media comes from restaurants. That means your customers have already integrated technology into their dining experience.
Using an online ordering solution means you’re occupying prime digital real estate, and that’s what really matters to diners.
Communicate with Ease
Your busy restaurant has a busy back-of-house, and busy sometimes means noisy. But digital ordering eliminates the noise. It creates an easy-to-use, seamless connection between the diner and the ticket.
Ordering by phone typically takes five-to-eight minutes, according to the National Restaurant Association. And staff can only receive one order at a time.
With your customers ordering online, ordering doesn’t require any staff time, and customers will never encounter a busy signal. They can spend as much time as they like exploring the menu, where comprehensive descriptions of dishes answer their questions. Menus change can with the time of day, so the appropriate meal is there to meet them at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Online ordering also solves the issue of misunderstood phone-in orders.
Reducing the pressure of ordering by offering a web or mobile experience puts customers at ease, and relaxed customers tend to make more purchases.
Restaurants with an online ordering presence reported take-out sales grew 30 percent using the technology, meaning a $16 order becomes a $21 order with online or mobile ordering.
The exact increase in sales depends on the restaurant, but across the board, online ordering users are reporting the upward trend. Spending increases by 20 percent when customers use technology to place an order, according to a December 2016 Deloitte study detailed in the Chicago Tribune.
Customers also place more orders. The same study reveals customers buy from a restaurant six percent more frequently after they start using technology to place their orders.
Some online ordering providers also allow customers to save their favorite choices and remember their previous orders–even further streamlining the ordering process.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
Adopting online ordering is no longer a risk. Its advantages are tried and tested. Online ordering is set to overtake phone ordering, according to The Huffington Post, meaning consumers expect the convenience.
The only risk that remains is falling behind the competition.
Chain restaurants, eager to edge out smaller competitors, have taken a proactive approach to adopting mobile and web ordering tools.
Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s have trained pizza lovers to favor the mouse over the phone. Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbuck’s have consumers reaching for technology even before they reach for their morning coffee.
An online ordering solution offers increased revenue and greater consumer convenience, but it’s also offering a way to keep step with major industry players and vie for customers in an increasingly competitive field.
The Mobile Advantage
Web-based ordering is good. Mobile and web-based ordering is even better. Your restaurant should consider both.
What’s the big deal about mobile? It’s the number one way to stay top-of-mind with diners. You’ll literally have a place in their pockets.
Many smart phone users open multiple browser windows but forget to close them. That means after a diner places an order, your website will remain in their browser, where they’re likely to rediscover it in a few days.
More than 67 percent of Americans own smart phones and can access mobile ordering, according to a 2015 study from Pew Research Center.
Mobile travels with the consumer, so they’re able to place an order whenever they’re hungry.
Build your Online Brand
Establishing a digital brand has never been more important than it is today, and in addition to streamlining workflow and increasing revenue, web and mobile ordering services create a basis for online interaction between customers and restaurants.
Customer engagement through online ordering sets a precedent for further web interaction. Since ordering takes place through your website, traffic increases, and customers are primed to review the establishment on Yelp, Instagram and other social media platforms.
Your interaction with diners is about more than a single transaction. It’s about building an ongoing relationship. Diners are customers, but they’re also ambassadors who convey their experiences to a broad digital audience.
By creating a digital ordering experience, you’ll not only engage more consumers; you’ll learn more about who they are. The information gleaned from each individual sale provides a pathway that leads business growth into the future.