5 reasons you should offer online ordering
Millennials, a.k.a. the largest generation in American history, eat out five times a week. Here are some other good reasons to offer online ordering.
- To compete with the big brands.
- Because customers crave convenience.
- To grow your bottom line.
- To improve restaurant operations.
- To collect valuable customer data.
Still not convinced that online ordering is critical to your restaurant’s success? Read on.
Benefits of an online food ordering system
Your customers are spending more and more time online — especially on their smartphones. Take advantage of the trend to see these benefits.
1. To compete with the big brands
With the growing consumer demand for faster, more convenient ways to order, independent restaurants are feeling pressure to compete with big brands that can afford to invest millions in takeout technology.
Domino’s Pizza introduced their online ordering system in 2010. At the time their stock price was $8 and the company was struggling to grow. In the last seven years, Domino’s has grown to the second-largest pizza chain in the world with a stock price at over $200 per share — that’s 25x growth!
Domino’s has invested millions in building its own online ordering offering. Don’t have millions? Independent restaurants can compete by partnering with specialists like ChowNow which offers branded smartphone apps and website order for as little as $4 per day.
2. Because customers crave convenience
These days it seems like everyone is talking about the coveted millennial. Why should restaurant owners care about millennials? Because there are 50 million of them in the U.S., the largest generation in history. By next year, their collective purchasing power will exceed $3.39 trillion. Pleasing this demographic is a path to profits.
Last year, the percentage of restaurant orders placed online exceeded the quantity placed verbally over the phone.
My little sister interned in New York this summer, and I was shocked to learn that her morning routine consisted of a Starbucks run.
When I asked her “Why Starbucks? You live in Manhattan and work in Brooklyn, there is an incredible local coffee shop on every corner.” She explained she had the Starbucks app; she orders and pays for her coffee while getting on the subway, and it is waiting for her on the other side.
She saves 10 to 15 minutes every morning — and her favourite coffee shop, Brooklyn Roasting Company, doesn’t offer the same convenience. Quality is paramount when consumers choose where to eat, but if you are close in quality AND offer an easier way to order than your competition, then you are going to win with millennials.
3. To grow your bottom line
Put yourself in your restaurant customer’s shoes for a minute. Imagine you are getting home on Friday night after a stressful week of work. You want nothing more than to catch up on the latest Netflix series in your PJs while enjoying your favorite ramen from down the street.
Scenario 1: You give them a call
You look up the restaurant’s phone number and give them a call. On the other end is a hurried voice that asks “please hold.” The restaurant is obviously busy — it’s a Friday and what can you expect? Their ramen is worth the wait.
After a few minutes you wonder, “Did they forget about me? Maybe I should call back.” Just before you decide to hang up and redial, the same voice hops back on. It’s difficult to hear them.
Restaurant: “Pickup or delivery?”
Restaurant: “What do you want?”
You: “Slurpin’ ramen with chicken, spicy, no seaweed.”
Restaurant: “Anything else?”
Restaurant: “30 minutes”… click.
Thirty minutes later you get to the restaurant, wait in line to pay and bring your food home.
When you begin plating your food, you are disappointed to discover seaweed in your ramen. Not the end of the world, but you will think twice the next time you are deciding where to order next time.
Scenario 2: You order online
You go to the restaurant’s website to find their phone number and see that you can now Order Online. You click “Order Online,” and are walked step by step through your order.
You add your ramen order and peruse the rest of the menu. You never realized they had dessert. You’re ready to treat yourself and decide to try the Macaron Ice Cream.
You review your order, add a tip and pay with your credit card. Within 60 seconds you get an email that your food will be ready in 30 minutes.
You arrive at the restaurant, and there is a long line. Luckily for you, your food is already paid for and waiting for you behind the counter — you tell them it’s yours, grab your bag and go. Everyone in line looks at you with amazement; you feel like a genius. Better yet, the order is accurate and the macaron ice cream is delicious.
Why does this matter?
The experience patrons have ordered at your restaurant matters. An inconvenience or mistake with an order can influence future purchasing behaviour.
Orders that are placed online are 20 percent larger on average, which means more money in your pocket.
On a busy night, even the best-trained employees are under stress and go into survival mode. Instead of upselling, and providing a top-notch customer experience, their No. 1 goal is to take the order, and move on to the next customer as fast as possible. This means more mistakes, and lost profits.
4. To improve restaurant operations
Implementing an online food ordering system will create operational efficiencies in your restaurant in three ways.
Improved order accuracy
The responsibility is on the customer to get their order right, and there is no opportunity to misunderstand them on the phone.
Your staff isn’t a slave to the telephone with online orders — they can process the order when they have a free moment.
Decreased processing time
Orders are already decided upon and paid for. Pre-payment removes an entire step in your process — and you won’t be stuck on the phone with an indecisive customer who wants you to read your entire menu to them.
5. To collect valuable customer data
A restaurant’s lifeblood is its loyal customer base. However, many restaurants know only their most loyal customers by face and name, and not much beyond that. Online food ordering systems like ChowNow capture your customers’ emails, purchase history and ordering preferences.
This data is invaluable since you can use it to send targeted promotions to your most valuable customers and get them coming back for more.