Online food ordering emerged in the 1990s, but it only recently became the staple service American consumers have come to expect. Allowing your customers to view your menu and place an order online is a win-win for customers and your restaurant. We’ll explore the benefits of online ordering, especially for restaurants that want to grow, below.
Why Offer Online Ordering?
Online ordering allows restaurants to reach new customers conveniently. This service is beneficial for both parties, so it’s no wonder online ordering is growing in popularity. Online food delivery revenue in the U.S. is projected to reach nearly $28.5 million in 2021. It’ll likely continue to grow to a market volume of over $32 million by 2024. Restaurant websites and apps and third-party platforms are popular ways of ordering from restaurants.
Many consumers have discovered the convenience of browsing a menu on their phone or computer. They enjoy getting their favorite foods made-to-order, ready for them at a pickup counter or sent straight to their front door. Restaurants benefit from giving customers what they want, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that customers want online ordering.
Advantages of Online Ordering for Restaurants
Online ordering delivers some valuable benefits to customers and restaurants. Let’s look at eight key benefits of online ordering systems for restaurants like yours.
1. Expanded Customer Reach
Online ordering expands your reach, connecting you with customers who aren’t in your immediate geographical vicinity. If you aren’t currently delivering, partnering with a third-party ordering platform like DoorDash, Uber Eats or Grubhub increases your reach substantially. A customer who works a distance from your restaurant may not want to drive to you for lunch. But they may become a new customer if they can have their lunch delivered.
Customers may also discover your restaurant by browsing the app and finding restaurants they’ve never ordered from before. Some restaurants expand their reach more dramatically by using cloud kitchens to prepare food for takeout or delivery. A cloud kitchen in a new region unlocks a whole new customer base, and online ordering allows you to connect with them.
2. Increased Efficiency and Accuracy
Taking orders over the phone or in-person takes up valuable time and easily leads to human errors. These errors result in frustrated customers and costly corrections like a comped meal. Restaurants may minimize errors by repeating back a customer’s order and asking them to confirm the accuracy. But this step takes more time — time when other customers may be on hold or in line waiting for service — and misunderstandings may still occur.
All the customers’ requests are in writing when they order online, streamlining the process and reducing the chance of errors. The customer gets exactly what they want as long as the kitchen follows the online order instructions. Consistently getting orders right leads to happy customers and positive reviews.
3. More Flexibility for Customers
Online ordering is more convenient for many customers because of its flexibility. Customers browse your menu and make their selections at their leisure right from their device rather than feeling rushed ordering in-person or over the phone. They could also place orders from locations where phone calls would be a nuisance, such as public transit.
Customers may also put their orders together in stages when ordering online. That flexibility is especially convenient when placing a group order. The person creating the order inputs their request before asking their coworkers, roommates or family members what they want. They might even pass their phone or laptop over for others to enter their orders individually.
4. New Data Insights for Future Success
Going digital makes it easier to gather valuable data on your customers and their ordering behavior. Analyzing the data reveals important information, such as:
- Which menu items are most and least popular to online customers
- What times of day they are most likely to order
- How often they take advantage of promotions
- Whether they use your website or app to order
These insights empower restaurants to bolster their marketing campaigns and tailor their offerings to their customers’ needs and preferences. Understanding your client base better is especially helpful when a customer hasn’t ordered in a long time. Past ordering behaviors reveal what sort of promotion or perk could draw a customer back in.
5. More Upselling Opportunities
Online ordering lends itself well to upselling. Why not ask a customer if they want to add an extra topping, a premium side or a dessert to their meal? Hungry customers ordering online are often more apt to add these extras to their orders. The low pressure of browsing leads some customers to treat themselves a bit more. Some customers also feel a delivery fee is worth it when they’re placing a bigger order. As a result, you might receive higher than average ticket orders.
7. More Secure Payment and Fewer Abandoned Orders
Online ordering for restaurants encourages paying ahead, which doesn’t often happen over the phone. Restaurants typically allow customers ordering over the phone to pay when they pick up their food. Because over 40% of U.S. consumers are uncomfortable with sharing their credit card information over the phone, they don’t pay until the order is in their hands. Using a mobile wallet method or entering credit card information online is a welcomed alternative.
Allowing customers to pay at pickup leads to more abandoned orders — that is, orders customers place but never pick up. Maybe they decided they shouldn’t spend the money, or maybe something came up at work or home. Whatever the case, abandoned orders are costly for restaurants. With online orders, customers get to securely pay ahead, making abandoned orders far less likely.
8. Additional Revenue Stream
Using food delivery apps for restaurants opens up new revenue streams that would otherwise go untapped. With online ordering growing exponentially in popularity, not offering the option will put you at a disadvantage. A fall 2020 survey found that two-thirds of respondents had ordered out for dinner, and nearly half had ordered out for lunch the previous week. Many Americans order takeout or delivery multiple times a week.
The conveniences of online ordering are attractive to many modern consumers. You’re able to capture these customers with online ordering, including ones who may discover you for the first time online. Even if your restaurant is busy with customers dining in, your profits may grow by reaching additional customers at home.
Cloud Kitchens for Online Ordering
With the popularity of takeout and delivery, some businesses are establishing new locations solely dedicated to these orders with no front-of-house component.
Existing restaurants may find their kitchen is at capacity fulfilling dine-in orders. They need a new space dedicated to expanding online order fulfillment capabilities. If you’re establishing a new restaurant brand focused on delivery, a virtual kitchen helps you maximize your online ordering profits by eliminating dine-in overhead costs.
You could invest a significant amount of time and money into building or procuring your own commercial kitchen facility for online order fulfillment. Or you could take advantage of an existing cloud kitchen in the region you want to serve. Cloud kitchens, also called ghost kitchens, are commercial spaces you lease. A cloud kitchen offers all the storage space and equipment you need and makes it easy to get your virtual kitchen going right away.
Cloud Kitchens From Revolving Kitchen
If you want to set up a virtual restaurant business or expand your online ordering capabilities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Revolving Kitchen will help you get started. Our cloud kitchens are completely private and open to you 24/7. They offer ample space, unmatched amenities and state-of-the-art equipment. Plus, our pricing is competitive and straightforward.
With Revolving Kitchen, you’ll get started right away serving more hungry customers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Our kitchens are also the perfect place to test out concepts and drive your business forward. Contact us to learn more or schedule a tour of our facilities.