online ordering

Restaurants have officially launched into the digital age, as mobile and restaurant online ordering surpassed phone ordering in 2016. This coincides with a notable reduction in dine-in guests, as people are clearly preferring to enjoy their meals at home.

Another thing that’s clear is that online food ordering is big business. Thanks to services like GrubHub, UberEATS, DoorDash and the like, customers aren’t limited to pizza and Chinese delivery anymore.  Services like these had revenues in the billions in 2016, with no signs of slowing this year.

Your restaurant needs to be ready to accommodate this growing market segment. Sure, you could continue to rely on call-in orders for pickup. But, while you’re waiting for the phone to ring, your competitors will be racking up sales via online ordering.

Here’s a few reasons why online ordering is a necessary next step for your restaurant.

online ordering on upserve

It eliminates the “human factor”

Let’s be honest – most food order mistakes come from human error. Thanks to the rise of automated restaurant POS systems, most order transactions go off without a hitch. However, a POS still requires a person to translate a customer’s verbal request into button presses on the machine. And often, the customers’ adjustments or variations get lost in the aural cacophony of a crowded restaurant, and never get entered into the system.

While you wait for the phone to ring your competitors will be racking up online ordering sales.Click To Tweet

With online ordering, the customer handles every aspect of the order, from cook temperature requests to health-related substitutions, and every variable in between.  So, when orders are placed into an automated web- or app-based interface, there’s no risk of wait staff missing a key element of the order.

When customers get exactly what they order, every time, it can only lead to better ratings, reviews and repeat business.

online ordering on upserve

A restaurant online ordering platform that lets you enjoy added revenue without the added labor, hardware or ballooning commission costs.

See Upserve Online Ordering

It improves your menu’s visibility

When a person wants to order a pizza by phone, they typically call, make the order, and hang up. At no point does the employee have time to explain specials, add-ons or other upsell items. But, with a full-featured mobile site or app, the customer can see your full slate of offerings, likely leading to a few extra items each time.

Sure, your staff can certainly make the effort to upsell a pizza/wings/soda combo, but it’s not nearly as appetizing as seeing hi-res photos on your site. Suddenly, the idea of adding wings and a beverage seems natural, and before long, the restaurant sees increased revenue, without ever changing the menu.

And if your restaurant does change things up, there’s no better way to demonstrate new items than through the site or app. A phone call will never convey the same urgency, or evoke the same desire.

Ease of use translates to more frequent use

Let’s face it, calling a restaurant, waiting for staff to take you off hold, and trying to convey specific order details in a loud environment can be awful. And if it happens more than once, people aren’t likely to call back a third time.

Plus, as mentioned earlier, if the order comes through incorrectly, there’s a very good chance it will be the last time that person trusts your current operations.

However, if a person can act on a whim or desire, placing an order in seconds, all without leaving the couch, well … we are a society fueled by convenience. And offering a positive experience that takes zero effort is not only worth paying for, but will quickly become a regular practice for hungry customers.

Written by

Brad Bortone is a writer, editor and content marketer, published in areas ranging from content strategy to music reviews, and seemingly everywhere in between. Brad’s love of the food industry began during his tenure with Johnson & Wales University’s web team, writing countless pieces about – and enjoying countless lunches from – the school’s esteemed culinary program.

  • Ted Ripko

    We recently began offering online ordering through ChowNow and have seen very few orders being placed this way. We have marketing tools around the restaurant and up on website, FB page and posts in Instagram. I know that word of mouth is an important way to let our guests know about our new ordering system, but how do I get my team to actually spread the word and get excited about it? It’s not a quantifiable piece of data to be able to look at a report and see who is or isn’t spreading the word.

    • Theresa Navarra

      Hi Ted! That’s a great question. I recently wrote an article about tactics to drive online ordering sales in the restaurant – social media and the website came up, of course, as you’d mentioned. But I was thinking about reimagining how the telephone works as well. The way I looked at it in this case, was using the phone message to direct customers to online – but what if you reminded your staff, less time on the phone means more time interacting with guests, which means more time building the relationship and perhaps a higher tip? On the flip side, to get them excited and spreading the word about the actual online orders that come in, I’d look at the dolls and cents of it, there’s an interesting data point that says folks who order online spend, on average $50 per order, with the average spend per person in a full-service restaurant averaging $16-30, that’s a much bigger tip percentage on an online order!

      Check the article out here:

      I am certainly going to think more about this though, and get some thoughts together from other folks in the industry! I’ll report back.

    • Irina Norris

      Hi,Ted! Your team is definitely key to getting your customers excited about online ordering. I work at Upserve- we’re recently launched an online ordering solution for restaurants, and here are some tips I’ve heard from our customers that can hopefully help you! As Theresa N mentioned in her comment, let your staff know what’s in it for them. Make a mini training session out of this – focused on the benefits to them and arm them with some tools!
      The benefits are:
      1. They spend less time taking phone orders- especially, during hectic shifts, that’s less stress and more time with the in-house guests.
      2. They’re sure to face less uncomfortable situations where they have to apologize for an incorrect takeout order (human error happens). With online, the customer orders exactly what they want.
      3. They can make more in tips- the time it takes them to take 1 phone order could mean several online orders. More orders could translate to more tips!

      Now, help them spread the word:
      1. Tell your staff exactly what to say over the phone and in-person when the customer picks up their order. If you’re doing any promotions for online orders, they could say, “Have you ordered from our website yet? We’re offering 10% off from your 1st online order!”
      2. Do you have any printed material? If so, ask them to add a small leaflet or flyer inside the take-out bag, so customers learn that you do online ordering.

      Finally, if it works for you, ask them to try ordering online for themselves (maybe you even comp their meals). Hope this helps!