Third-Party Apps vs. In-House Integration: How to Choose the Right Online Ordering Solution

More than three-quarters of Americans now own a smartphone. Last year, mobile became the most popular way to access the internet. Almost three-quarters of millennials consider delivery important. All of these statistics prove that, not only are takeout and delivery services becoming more crucial for quick service restaurants, but online and mobile ordering are key to reaching new customers and hooking them to make them come back.

Adding online and mobile ordering, however, can be a little daunting. Third-party services like Grubhub and Eat24 are expanding their reach across the country, making the delivery game even more competitive. But is signing your restaurant up for these services a good idea, or is an in-house solution better?

Is Third-Party Worth It?

The convenience of third-party apps is unmistakable. However, with high per-order fees (some over 25 percent!) and a lack of control on your restaurant’s end once the food leaves the building, some owners wonder whether these apps are really a good choice, or if they’re better off just not offering online ordering at all.

There will always be risks when you trust your brand’s reputation with someone else, even if it’s just them delivering the food you make. But when it comes to offering delivery through online ordering, something is better than nothing. If your current POS system can’t add online ordering integration, or you can’t afford an in-house service, third-party apps are a great solution. Research the services available in your area, look at what their fees are, and determine whether or not it’s something your restaurant can afford to offer.

What About In-House Integration?

Some point of sale systems offer online and mobile ordering solutions that integrate right into your business’ current technology. Orders flow directly into your queue, while the customer’s information is stored and tracked in your POS system. Using a solution that integrates directly into your system can lower or get rid of per-order fees entirely. Online ordering solutions that come with low, fixed rates and can integrate seamlessly into your POS system are the dream.

Integration doesn’t just help with the immediate order processing, though. Having an in-house ordering solution allows for you to collect customer information, something that third-party apps can’t give you. Pair online ordering with your loyalty marketing program, and make new delivery or takeout customers into fans with just a couple well-timed offers. You can also create online-only offers, promoting the service with a simple coupon code.

Does it Make Any Sense to Offer Both?

Of course. Restaurants definitely don’t have to pick one or the other if adding both is an option. Using both could mean attracting new customers with the apps, then challenging yourself to find ways to encourage them to place their next order on your website instead. Third-party apps offer a way to reach an audience that you might have been missing before.

However, convincing these new customers to order from you and not on the app again is key. Them ordering on your website allows you to collect more information on them and, in turn, focus on turning them into a fan of your restaurant. Mentioning your loyalty program on your packaging or receipts provides new customers with incentive to check out your website and order directly from you.

So What Do You Pick?

Long story short, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. For restaurants who can’t add an integrated in-house option in the near future, third-party apps provide an immediate solution. However, restaurants that can afford to add an in-house system can chose to run their delivery show on their own or supplement it with third-party apps as well.

With the popularity of delivery and carryout services increasing more and more every year, setting your restaurant up for success is important. Having a menu available on your website, accuracy checks, and online and mobile ordering capabilities provide both new and returning customers with a quick, easy and pleasant experience with your restaurant.