Online Ordering Isn’t a Fad
Like most restaurant owners and managers, you quickly adapted to health regulations and changing consumer behaviors when the pandemic swept across the country. Whether you operate a quick-service eatery, fine dining, or any other concept, you likely enabled restaurant online ordering to continue to serve your customers. If you’re totally honest, though, you probably thought operations would return to “normal” someday.
Fast forward to the 2021 holiday season, with a bigger demand for tables in the dining room and more online orders. Some of your customers may be comfortable meeting family, friends, and coworkers at your restaurant. On the other hand, some of your customers may still be more comfortable ordering curbside pickup or delivery. Others are so tired from holiday planning and shopping that they’re looking for help with dinner and want to order family meals or items from a catering menu. And they all want service at the same time.
The holiday rush may have made it evident that you need a better way to manage online ordering. But, of course, you still want to meet the demand for convenient, safe, socially distanced ways to engage with and serve your customers. However, busy times, like the holidays, may show that your processes aren’t efficient or cost-effective, and you may be making life harder for your staff.
Which Online Ordering Strategy is the Right One for Your Restaurant?
In general, there are two types of restaurant online ordering solutions: a third-party platform or accepting orders directly.
Third-party ordering and delivery services
Probably the quickest way to build an online presence is to work with a third-party restaurant online ordering and delivery service, such as DoorDash or UberEats. These platforms allow you to post your menu on their websites and apps, accept orders and payment, and, if available in your area, use their drivers to deliver meals.
One of the biggest advantages of using a third-party restaurant online ordering platform is that a restaurant can suddenly reach a bigger audience. People who aren’t aware of your restaurant or are visiting from out of town can find you with a simple search for the type of food they like. Also, there’s no need for you to hire and manage delivery drivers – it’s all a part of the service.
However, there is a fee to accept orders through a third-party platform, typically about 30%. Therefore, your customers pay a fee to use the service. Additionally, if you aren’t using a solution that integrates with your point of sale (POS) system, your staff will be stuck accepting orders on multiple tablets, one for each platform you use, and an employee will have to enter orders into your system manually. This process can be time-consuming – especially during a holiday rush—and lead to errors and food waste, which no restaurant can afford during an economic recovery. Thankfully, with the right POS technology and online ordering integration, you can avoid these pain points and save time for both your hungry customers and busy employees. With a proper online ordering integration, your POS system will seamlessly receive orders from 3rd party sites and funnel orders right to your POS or kitchen display system. Eradicating excess tablets and repetitive order entry.
Accepting online orders through your website or app
You also have the option of accepting online orders directly. While there are monthly fees for the software license and your website or app, hosting your own online orders significantly reduces the fee you pay per order with some as low as 5%, allowing you to hold on to more of your profits. However, if you offer delivery, you will pay drivers, fuel costs and spend time managing this part of your business.
A major benefit of accepting direct orders with a system integrated with your POS system is that you control all of your customers’ data and rights to advertise to them. Third-party providers have the right to collect your customer data building to their knowledge of customer analytics, in addition to sending them advertisements and promotions that fit those demographics that may send them to different restaurants. By keeping control of your customers data you can get a better feel for what your customers want and minimize the chances of your customers going elsewhere.
Restaurant Online Ordering Will Be a Permanent Part of Your Business
If you have decided that you need to fine-tune restaurant online ordering for a more profitable and competitive 2022, consider the pros and cons of each option – as well as the costs – and choose the solution that’s right for your business long term. Ensure that the solution you choose supports the best way to accept orders, communicate them to food prep areas, stage them for pickup or delivery, and ultimately, provide the best customer experiences. Furthermore, insist on a solution that integrates with your POS system for the greatest efficiency and accuracy.
Your current restaurant online ordering system may have helped you through the most challenging days of the pandemic. Still, now that the hustle and bustle of the 2021 holidays are here, you know you need to optimize the technology and processes you use to get it right. So contact NCC to learn more about how easy it can be to get your online ordering revenue stream on track.