Everything You Need to Create a Restaurant Online Ordering System

With food delivery sales rising 20% just over the past five years and predicted to experience a whopping 79% spike in annual growth by 2022, there's never been a better time for businesses to create and grow an online presence.

In this article, well discuss the various ways restaurants can implement online ordering systems and the measures they can take to ensure all staff members are prepared for the operational changes.

Ways to Implement A Restaurant Online Ordering System

The world of online food ordering has exploded in the past few years. With a wealth of data delivering stats on predicted exponential growth in this sector, it's no surprise businesses are rapidly transforming their services to get a slice of the pie.

According to Upserve, 60% of consumers in the US alone recently reported ordering takeout at least once a week while over 30% confessed to ordering twice a week. So how do online ordering systems work and how can a company effectively implement the right system for their business? Consider the three options below.

1. POS Add-Ons
Some POS software have the capability to integrate with online ordering systems at a fixed, extra cost. Generally, this add-on feature will not require additional fees per order and can be an economic approach to launching an online ordering system.

The downside to utilizing this method without the help of third-party websites is the lack of visibility. Customers will have to already know about your restaurant and seek the website out directly in order to order online.

2. Third-party online ordering systems
A plethora of apps now exist to make the process of ordering food online more seamless, diverse, and easier than ever. Some advantages of these systems include an intuitive, user-friendly interface, wider customer base, and loyalty incentives to help restaurants build a returning customer base. On the flip side, these apps often ask for a pricey monthly or yearly fee that surpasses that of the POS software. They may also be incompatible with existing software.

3. Marketplace delivery apps
These popular apps rely on third-party drivers for pick-up and delivery and boast significant advantages such as high visibility. Thousands of users order food via these apps, which means a small neighborhood restaurant can find itself on the foodie trail.

Another advantage is the fact that a business is not limited to just one app. Instead, they can use as many companies as they would like to expand customer reach. The main disadvantage, however, is the cost, as they charge a heavy fee of up to 30% of an order. While these apps can put a restaurant on the map, they are impersonal and make it difficult for a business to track customer information.

Preparing Staff For Online Orders

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Implementing an online ordering system to complement a restaurant's traditional way of doing business takes adjusting. Businesses should implement carefully thought-out strategies to manage traffic flow and ensure all staff members are trained to handle the changes.

Front of house preparation
More takeout traffic will disrupt the flow of the restaurant. Therefore, implementing a strategy that factors in how customers move throughout the space will ensure front of house staff members are equipped to handle both sit-in and take-out customers.

Create a designated takeout space for customers or third-party app drivers awaiting pickup. This area should be out of the way to avoid congestion and disruption to diners. And establish a front of house role to manage takeout orders. At least one person should be in charge of online/takeout orders per shift.

Back of house preparation
Optimize the kitchen layout, stock up on takeout packaging, and time orders to increase efficiency among the kitchen staff. Conduct a trial in the first month of the new online ordering system to iron out the creases. This trial period is also an excellent time to monitor workloads and get staff feedback. If it looks as though more staff need to be hired, consider an initial expediting role to organize and prioritize online orders.

Optimizing The Menu

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Unlike the in-house menu, a restaurant's online version should prioritize clarity, simple language, and easy navigation. Consider the following tips for optimizing online menus to ensure customers have the best user experience possible.

  • Use high-resolution photos - Online menus are all about the images. This means high-resolution pictures that showcase the best of whats on offer are crucial. It's worth splashing the cash on a professional photographer as customers eat with their eyes first.
  • Write top-notch food copy - Food and dish descriptions should be concise, accurate, and above all, tempting. Try to stay on brand when crafting colorful copy to sell the food and be sure to put the emphasis on ingredients, taste, health benefits, and local produce.
  • Separate by categories - Remember that most customers are ordering via their device, so devise menu categories that are simple, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly. Customers don't want to waste time searching around for their options at one restaurant, so minimize the need to scroll and be sure to include a "most popular" category with the best sellers. Other categories could include vegetarian or vegan dishes.
  • Don't forget about the add-ons - Create an online ordering menu with a list of additions or extras that give customers the chance to change, detract, or add on extras with the tap of a finger. This is a great chance to upsell.

For restaurants entering the brave new world of online ordering, it's logical to expect a shift or increase in demand. To maximize this potential for growth and ensure the business can effectively meet and manage what comes, its vital to implement regular sales forecasting and demand planning procedures.

A variety of software is available to assist restaurants in automating this process. Investing in this software further allows managers to make informed decisions from staff hires to inventory levels and better manage their cash flow.

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