2020. Sheesh. It’s been a tough year for everyone and every business, none more so than those in the food and beverage industry. If you’re a restaurant, 2020 and all its challenges has had enormous significance for two reasons:
- COVID-19 lockdowns, shutdowns, crackdowns – basically all the downs – have meant a crucial pivot to online ordering, takeout, delivery, and curbside pickup to ensure survival.
- 2020, regardless of COVID or any other disaster this year has brought, is officially the future. The future has arrived, and the future, as predicted for years gone by, is online everything. Even before COVID-19 began wreaking havoc, results from an October 2019 National Restaurant Association survey showed that guests were increasingly moving towards online service, with 60% of all restaurant and foodservice sales being takeout, drive-through.
Put the two together and the bottom line is this: for restaurants in particular, you absolutely need online ordering functionality in 2020 and beyond. Without trying to sound too harsh, there will be no business survival without it.
Are you there already? Your online ordering is all in place? Congrats! Question is, is your online ordering platform in-house or are you using a third-party platform and delivery service like Skip the Dishes? The reason we ask is, you know that old chestnut “Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth”? Well, it applies to every aspect of your kitchen, including your online ordering!
So, whether you’re new to online ordering, or looking to fine-tune your process, read this. We’ll outline why you need to implement online ordering functionality right now, and why you need to take ownership of it, skip the dish… erm, delivery service, and develop your own in-house ordering platform.
3 Reasons Why Your Restaurant Needs Online Ordering Functionality
Reason #1: 2020
Just kidding… Although the curveball that 2020 threw us all is definitely a compelling reason to get your restaurant’s online ordering up and running pronto, there are far further-reaching reasons to do so than the pandemic pivot. Think of online ordering as the new truffle oil – once you add it to your menu it’s going to win you all kinds of new fans! Plus, it is going to benefit your business in all kinds of other ways:
Reason #1: Online ordering drives bigger sales, which equals more revenue
How so? Even pre-pandemic, more and more customers were turning to online ordering. People perusing menus online feel less pressure with no wait staff breathing down their neck or other tables doing the classic diner dagger-eyes to grab attention. With less pressure comes more time to explore all menu options, which often translates to added extras – appies, desserts, sides, etc. And this isn’t only anecdotal theory and conjecture: the good folk over at Toast sampled a group of restaurants and found that those with online ordering saw orders 23% larger than in-store, non-digital orders on average. That’s a 23% larger paycheque. What’s more, the ease, convenience and in-home comfort of restaurant online ordering – Hello, fine dining in our pyjamas? Yes please! – means online ordering is here to stay, long after the pandemic is behind us.
Reason #2: Online ordering equals fewer mistakes
In-person ordering, whether over the phone or face to face, is riddled with misunderstanding and broken telephone messaging. I.e., orders are often misheard, written down hastily, or even misplaced! This can lead to irate customers, who might demand their money back and who definitely won’t come back, which can lead to loss in revenue. It can also lead to food waste, which is a further loss in revenue. With online orders, it’s all there in black and white, little room for error or misunderstanding, and little wiggle room for customers who are out to get a free meal (they do exist).
Reason #3: Online Ordering Allows you to Collect Customer Data
Customer data is to marketing and making money what butter, cream and salt are to cooking: it makes everything better! Knowing what your customers want gives you a huge advantage, no matter what industry you’re in, but it’s particularly true for the food biz. In-house online ordering is a great way to get that insight. With your own online ordering platform, you’ll be able to record customer contact information, track their order patterns, glean their likes and dislikes, how often they order, when they are mostly likely to order, and what kinds of deals they’re most likely to jump on! Knowing this allows you to customize their experience of your restaurant, market to them effectively, and ultimately build unbeatable customer relations with them which will have them returning to you again and again.
3 Reasons to Develop an In-House Online Ordering Platform vs Using a Third-Party Delivery Service
Now that you know you need online ordering functionality – stat – here’s why you need to make that an in-house platform rather than signing on with a third-party delivery service. Skip the delivery service and spend a little bit of money getting your online ordering platform customized for you and your restaurant alone for these three reasons:
Reason #1: You keep control
Hiring a third-party service means you give up control of your delivery experience. While there are some pros to giving the admin over to somebody else, do you trust somebody else to deliver your food in a hot-and-delicious state and to treat your customer the way you would? No, do you really, really trust them? Because here’s the thing: 80% of customers say they’ll blame the restaurant rather than the delivery service if anything goes wrong…
By using your own in-house ordering platform and delivery drivers, you keep complete control of the experience on both ends – the food is packaged the way you like; it’s picked up and delivered as soon as it’s ready to go; and it’s delivered to the customer politely and all in one piece. (We’ve all heard the stories of food being eaten in transit by anonymous delivery service drivers. Yuck.)
On top of keeping complete control over your food and the customer experience thereof, you control customer communications, the gathering of customer data, and customer satisfaction (see Reason #3 below).
Reason #2: You keep the profits
Commission fees charged by third-party platforms like Skip the Dishes, DoorDash, Foodora etc, can be high. Seriously high. Restaurants report paying 15 to 30% for each order placed through third-party platforms according to CNN Business reports! Yikes. With profit margins in the restaurant industry only sitting at about 5% as it is (which isn’t huge), fees this high hurt. Really hurt. You may even find yourself delivering food at a loss.
So, while setting up an online ordering and delivery operation of your own will require a sizable investment upfront, you can plan for that expense once, in its entirety. And once it’s in, it’s in. In the long term, this is absolutely going to save you money. By hosting your own online ordering system, integrated directly with your POS, you get to keep 100% of the revenue from each order. No more commission fees, no more paying a middleman to deliver your food in goodness knows what state!
Reason #3: You keep customer satisfaction
By managing your own online ordering you are, effectively managing customer communication. This means, ultimately, you are managing customer satisfaction. This is not the case when you sign on with third-party delivery systems where they get to keep the customer information, they get to communicate directly with the customer, they get to call the customer customization shots. All of which works to keep some serious distance between you and your customers.
But here’s the thing: they’re ordering your food. They are your customer. And you want to be talking to them directly.
An in-house online ordering system allows you to collect important data on your customers which not only allows you to talk to them directly, it allows you to talk to them in a way that suits them. You can customize their experience to their likes, dislikes, feedback, ordering habits and so on and so forth.
With your own online ordering platform, you can make instant, real-time changes to your menu and design, giving you both greater control over your own brand, and a better shot at satisfied customers who get to see exactly what they want, when they want it, along with real-time pricing, timing and availability. You manage it all, which means you get to manage expectations, which means you get to maximize customer satisfaction.
Ready to embrace online ordering?
2020 has been a game-changer for so many businesses, on so many levels. For those who have managed to adapt, it is a game-changer that might just ensure success for years and years to come, in good times and in bad. Still not sure? According to the National Restaurant Association, 42% of consumers say the ability to order online would make them choose one restaurant over another. With your own, in-house online ordering functionality functioning as smoothly as your kitchen, you can be the chosen one.
Do you need help setting up your restaurant’s in-house online ordering platform?
Already got your fingers in too many pies (quite literally as the case may be!) and feel like you may need some help developing and implementing online ordering functionality for your restaurant? Speak to our consultants at 1st on the List and we can point you in the right direction! Call toll-free 1-888-262-6687 or contact us online.