Online Ordering: More Vital Than Ever?

When online ordering first came onto the scene, it was a big deal: The ability to swiftly get delivery without having to call a staff member was a hit with customers, and the practice only grew in popularity as restaurants began optimizing their menus and ordering systems for mobile devices so that loyal guests could truly buy food on-the-go.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, online ordering had already been on the rise for a few years. Now, however, it’s more important than ever for customers to have an easy way to order takeout, curbside pickup or delivery from the comfort of their home and without having to go meet anyone face-to-face. For many restaurants struggling financially because of COVID-19, online ordering systems—whether old or implemented after March had come and gone—have been the only thing keeping them afloat all these months.

Online Ordering on the Rise

More than half of consumers in the U.S. order takeout or delivery at least once a week; nearly a third make use of platforms like Postmates or UberEats at least twice weekly. Many restaurants have lately become disenchanted with third party delivery services and when you consider just how popular those are with consumers, you can begin to see just how much money restaurants stand to save by having customers order directly from them instead.

Of course, these numbers vary depending on your restaurant and target audience. 59% of Millennials’ orders are for takeout or delivery, so that’s a huge chunk of profits if you cater to them. 60% of restaurants report increased revenue after opening avenues for delivery, and with customers much more likely to visit a restaurant following a successful delivery with them first, it’s no wonder that so many businesses are considering online ordering.

The Appeal of Online Ordering

Despite third party delivery platforms experiencing a surge in profits lately, most consumers only turn to these apps because they don’t have another option. If they don’t want to call the restaurant directly or stop by in person, then they have to use a third party platform because many restaurants don’t offer their own delivery and takeout streams. However, loyal customers do genuinely want to support their favorite places to eat: 70% would prefer to order straight from a restaurant so that their money all goes to them.

People like online ordering; it makes their lives easier so they can keep doing what they love at home and yet have their most-frequented restaurants bring their favorite meals right to their door. Comfort, ease and accessibility are all increasingly important to the average consumer. Why not build a restaurant that caters to what they want?

How Restaurants Can Step Up

Many businesses seek to gain back some of what they lost after COVID-19, but profit is difficult to attain in a confusing and upheaved economy. The introduction of online ordering alone has increased sales by an average of 10%, a marked improvement from how fast the marketplace declined back in March. Additionally, some states have allowed businesses to offer alcohol for takeout and delivery, which is a huge revenue booster for those who can take advantage. Many restaurants lost alcohol sales at the same time that they forfeited the opportunity for dine-in customers, but they’ve gained back between 20 and 30% of these sales since states started passing these temporary laws. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a good cocktail with dinner?

A lot of restaurants, however, are beginning to see the potential in implementing online ordering systems and are just struggling to figure out how to go about putting these channels in place. Once you have an app or landing page set up to accept online orders, focus on attracting customers there: Rewards and loyalty programs, for example, are very strong encouragement to return to your online ordering platform again and again. You can use incentives to entice people away from third party delivery services and straight to your website instead.

Does Online Ordering Work?

For all the time, effort and money that goes into creating an online ordering platform for your restaurant, it’s useful to know that you’ll come out the other side with more profits. While nothing is guaranteed in food service, a third of consumers do spend at least $50 when they order food online and many also report spending more online than they would dining-in—perhaps because they can put leftovers right in the fridge or they have more time to browse the menu. Self-service does increase average ticket size because customers can take their time perusing the menu and customize orders to their exact specifications and preference. In many cases, customers are even willing to pay more for their order to get there faster.

Some businesses find that customers spend more via online or mobile orders than they do when ordering over the phone, too. It can be advantageous for businesses to open themselves up to online ordering options that will satiate their customers better and improve overall profits too.

When it comes to online ordering, COVID-19 has made off-premise dining options more appealing than ever. It’s time restaurants capitalize on a trend that has already been rising in the marketplace in recent years. It’s increasingly important to consumers that they have this option, especially in light of the pandemic, which means it’s important for restaurants too.

Interested small businesses should consider partnering with eatOS. When you set up devices in your restaurant that are powered by our technology, we’ll design a personalized ordering app just for you. Your business, your way. We put the power in your hands by eliminating the need for third party services and letting customers come straight to you for all their online ordering needs instead. Book a demo with eatOS and let us help your restaurant into a more successful future of food service.

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