Updated: May 19
Online ordering is the wave of the future for the modern restaurant. With online ordering, you can turn your restaurant website into an income-generating machine, allowing customers to order takeout and delivery services directly from your site. Some restaurants even use this process to let dine-in customers order online or through a mobile app, so their food and table are ready when they arrive.
How much profit is there in online ordering? Quite a bit. Online food ordering should reach $200 billion in profits by 2025, and currently, around 42% of food purchases are online. If you are managing a restaurant, learning how to implement online ordering is vital to embrace this growing trend.
The 3 Ways You Can Implement Online Ordering
If you are ready to embrace online ordering for your restaurant, you must determine how you will deliver this option to your customers. You have three basic options to get started with online ordering. Choose the one that best fits your goals and needs.
1) Sign Up for Third-Party Food Delivery Apps
The simplest solution is to sign up to offer online ordering through a third-party delivery solution. Third-party delivery apps are services like Postmates, DoorDash, UberEats, and GrubHub. They allow you to upload your menu to the platform, then allow the platform to connect your customers and delivery drivers.
Get started with mobile ordering quickly
No need to hire and train staff for deliveries
Market your menu items to a large pool of potential customers
Setup fees, delivery fees, and commissions get charged for every order, making this costly for you and your customers
You cannot access customer data
You cannot control the ordering process or your branding
Delivery drivers can give your brand a bad reputation
2) Develop and Manage Everything In-House
Creating your own online ordering system gives you the control you want for the process. You can add online order integration to your POS system and restaurant website, and then hire your own delivery drivers. This option can work well if you are tech-savvy.
You are in control
You do not have to pay fees and commissions
You can collect and utilize customer data
It requires a lot of technical understanding
You must hire and train the additional staff needed for the process
The addition of online ordering POS integrations can be expensive
3) Have a Custom Restaurant Online Ordering System Built for You
The third option takes away the tech-savvy requirement but gives you back control. That option is having an online ordering system built for your restaurant. You can pass off the technical side of things to the experts while still being able to dictate how the website and mobile app will work. INFI offers both restaurant website development and mobile app development with the option to add online ordering to both, you can read our blog on why every restaurant needs a mobile app.
Greater level of control
No need for tech knowledge
Frees your time to focus on your restaurant
More professional, branded product
Could cost more than the DIY option
Still must train delivery drivers if offering delivery
Must teach your staff how to use the new system
What To Look for in a Restaurant Online Ordering System
If you are ready to embrace online ordering for your customers, you need to find the right system. While each restaurant's needs will be unique, certain features will make an online ordering platform stand out. Here are some features of a restaurant's online ordering system that means it is a good choice.
Your Ordering System Should Be Customizable
Your restaurant's needs and point of sale system are going to be different than your competitor. Through add-ons and integrated features, look for a system that is customizable. This is never a one-size-fits-all process, so find an ordering app or system that you can tailor to the needs and goals of your business.
You're also going to want the option to customize the system after you have it set up. Your online menu is going to change as you roll out new menu items, and you're going to want to have an option to implement branding features like loyalty programs or new logos and imaging, so you want the ability to adjust when you need to do so and allow those to be posted in real-time.
Your Ordering System Should Be Easy to Use
If you have to spend a lot of time teaching your team how to use your online ordering system, you're going to be frustrated. Online food ordering systems should integrate well with your existing restaurant POS system, and they should be easy to use on both the customer ordering side and on the employee-facing side.
Along with this, look for a program that has strong customer service or tech support service. Problems will arise from time to time, and you want to know that you can get help when they do. If the app or contactless ordering system is backed with solid customer service, it's likely a good one to consider.
Your Ordering System Should Be Able to Collect Customer Data
Customer data collected through your online ordering platform is an important feature. This will allow you to track customer ordering habits, so you can make adjustments to better cater your menu items to fit customer preferences.
With accurate customer data, you can improve your restaurant business and eliminate menu items that aren't selling. You can also optimize your online menu to better display items that have higher profitability to encourage customers to buy them. Data will help you determine if your marketing efforts and promotions are working. This functionality will help you run a more profitable restaurant.
Your Restaurant Online Ordering System Should Be Affordable
While you do need a lot of features in your online ordering system, you also need to use your budget wisely. Look for a system that is affordable and fits well with your budget.
Pricing for online ordering systems is not standard, and you will find quite a bit of range from one platform to the next. For some systems, you will pay a monthly fee between $90 and $200 a month, while others will set up your online ordering system for one fee, then add costs for ongoing services as you use the system. A per-order transmission fee of a few cents is also common for these systems.
Your Online Ordering System Should Have Branding Options
If you are going to offer online ordering to your customers, make sure you can attain your goals with your platform. This requires you to have branding built into the platform.
From beautiful imagery of your food to your logo and your own content, make sure you can add what you want to properly showcase your brand and what it can do for your customers.
Preparing Your Restaurant for Online Ordering
Before launching an online ordering system, restaurant owners need to prepare their restaurants and their customers for the process. This will help streamline the integration and make everything go as smoothly as possible.
1) Train Your Staff on the New Technology
Before letting customers use your new system, make sure your staff understands how it works, both on the back and the front end. Take some time to train your staff to integrate the new technology into their ordering process. Show them how customers place orders, so they can help troubleshoot any issues your customers run into.
Make sure your kitchen and its staff are ready for the influx of orders that is likely to come with the implementation of online ordering. If you need to change some of the order management and production processes or hire some more people, do so. An overwhelmed kitchen will not get orders out quickly to your customers.
While training your staff, consider implementing protocols for no-contact pickup and delivery. The COVID-19 pandemic made this a norm across restaurants, from quick-service restaurants (QSRs) to fine dining establishments. Adding this training as you implement online ordering will help your customers feel comfortable ordering from your restaurant no matter what’s going on in the world.
2) Optimize Your Menu for Online Ordering
Not every dish you serve will work well for online ordering, curbside pickup, and delivery service. Consider optimizing your online menu to ensure that the food your customers receive is tasty and fresh.
For example, you may find that a salad topped with fresh, hot meat does not travel well. It arrives at the customer's home soggy and with the temperature of the produce and the meat merging, providing a disappointing experience. Eliminating that particular salad from the online ordering menu will help you protect your image.
This doesn't mean you have to drop these items from your menu altogether. Many restaurants will offer a modified menu for online customers. Others will try different packaging that helps the dish get to the customer in the best possible shape for eating. For example, the same salad mentioned above could be packaged with the cold items in one container and the hot items in the other, so the customer puts it together when they get it.
3) Use a Tool To Help With the Developments
Building an online order platform is challenging, but you can use a tool to help you implement this process with your own website. INFI is one such tool. We offer restaurant website development as well as restaurant app development that will give you a competitive edge as you embrace online ordering. Check out our offerings to see how INFI can help you get started.
4) Promote Your Restaurant
Once you have everything set up, then it's time to launch your new system. Before launch, promote your restaurant and your online ordering, so customers can start paying attention. If you have a customer loyalty program, email list, or SMS list, tap into those to contact your customers and let them know about your new online ordering.
One way to get customers to start using the platform is to offer a promotion to new customers or new online customers. A special discount will entice people to try your online ordering, and if it goes smoothly, you'll gain a new online customer.
Finally, update all of your online listings, like Google My Business or Yelp, to include online ordering capabilities. Many customers make their buying decisions from these platforms, so let them know what you offer. If you can, add a link to your website or online ordering system to these listings, so people can quickly put in an order if they are ready to eat.
Want to learn more about setting up an online ordering system? Check out our article: How to Set Up an Online Ordering System?
If your need more help running your restaurant, why not check out our guide on helpful online restaurant blogs for restaurant owners and managers?
Looking for start your sushi restaurant? We have a step-by-step guide on how to open your very own sushi restaurant for you.
Online Ordering Systems to Consider for Restaurants
As you consider your options for implementing a customer ordering platform, here are some of the ordering systems worth considering. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks to consider as you search.
INFI is at the cutting edge of restaurant techs. This company was built by restaurant veterans, so the team knows what restaurant owners need. They blend tech knowledge and marketing expertise together to create innovative and effective solutions for restaurant owners.
INFI offers total solutions for self-ordering systems for restaurants. In addition to kiosks, INFI offers mobile app and website development options that allow you to implement online ordering into your restaurant. INFI uses cutting-edge technology and a collaborative process to create custom ordering systems that help you extend your menu to online customers. The system also allows your customers to create a mobile wallet that makes ordering easier, and you can set up the system to offer a branded loyalty program to each customer.
Because INFI's solutions are customized for each restaurant, pricing is based on individual projects. Schedule a demo to see what they can do for you.
MenuDrive has been in the restaurant business since 2009. They were at the cusp of online ordering and continue to deliver innovative products to today's restaurant owners. They now serve restaurants in over 90 countries.
MenuDrive offers a robust list of features that help you generate online orders. This includes marketing materials, like an email template editor and signage maker, and a number of analytic tools to help your restaurant determine how profitable particular menu items or loyalty campaigns are. MenuDrive allows restaurant owners to customize an online storefront and create an online menu that makes it easy for customers to select the items they want. It does not have website or app development, but rather integrates with your existing online presence.
MenuDrive charges $149 a month, a $149 set-up fee, and a per-transaction fee.
Toast is an all-in-one platform for restaurants to help make them tech-savvy. They offer POS and online ordering systems that help restaurants deliver a superior experience to customers.
Toast POS offers a commission-free digital ordering platform. It has its own delivery service that you can tap, or you can use your own delivery platform. Toast POS is customizable with your branding times, offers a number of convenient payment options, and integrates with a POS system to ensure the kitchen gets orders right. It does not, however, have website or app development.
Toast POS does not publish its pricing information.
ChowNow is a company dedicated to the restaurant industry. They believe in arming restaurants with the technology they need to meet today’s customers where they are, which is online. They have been in the restaurant industry since 2011.
ChowNow offers a simple online ordering system that plugs into your existing website. They also offer website development for restaurants that lack a customer-facing site. This platform has app integration and development as well. They offer the option to add flexible delivery options and professional photoshoots to their product offerings.
The price for ChowNow is $139 a month for a one-year membership, plus a per-order credit card fee.
Square has several point of sale solutions for businesses of all types. They do not focus just on the restaurant industry, but they do have a large number of products that work well for restaurants. They offer a significant amount of data in real-time to help restaurant owners and other business owners make the right decisions for their companies.
Square POS is a point of sale system that offers a free online site along with its POS and KDS system. The main focus of Square POS is the POS system, not the website and online order platform, but it does work well as an all-in-one system. Square POS also offers a mobile payment option that allows contactless payments when guests pay while in line or at the table, but it does not have an integrated app development plan.
Plans start at $60 per month for Square POS Plus, plus an additional processing fee for credit card payments.
For the Best Online Ordering Experience, Choose a Custom Solution by INFI
If you already have a POS system and good in-person ordering processes, you don't need all of the bells and whistles of some companies. For a streamlined, effective, and affordable online ordering experience for your restaurant, consider INFI. Schedule a demo today to see how INFI can help you rise to the occasion and offer online ordering to your customers through a website that integrates with our mobile ordering platform.