9 Advantages of Online Food Ordering for Restaurants

By: AJ Beltis

8 Minute Read

Jun 19, 2018

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Online ordering

Fumbling over the phone, bad reception, and the pressure of a long line can result in your customers spending less at your restaurant.

While more quick-service and pizzeria customers order in person or over the phone right now, that may not be the case for much longer. In fact, restaurants have experienced great success with online food ordering systems. Guests can take their time, clarify their order, and be precise.

With Toast Now™, restaurants can set up digital channels, like online ordering, a mobile ordering app, contactless delivery, and e-gift cards for three months free. No hardware or POS purchase required. No onsite installation. And best of all, no commission fees.

We took a look at a group of restaurants using online food ordering systems and found that they see check sizes 23% larger than in-store checks on average.

Yet despite statistics like these, the skeptic in you may still be hesitant to integrate an online food ordering system with your point of sale, coming up with such defenses as:

  • "I already go through a third-party ordering site. That works just fine for me."
  • "My restaurant isn't right for online ordering."
  • "Restaurant online ordering hasn't impacted the industry as much as some people say."

The list goes on and on. Even those who recognize the movement and offer online ordering may only do so through a third-party website. As a result, they appeal to the wide base of customers, but lose a hefty chunk of per-order revenue along the way.

Restaurants opting to use an in-house online ordering software through their point of sale system see many advantages compared to those exclusively using a third-party service. These perks include higher profits, insights on individual customers, a customizable user experience and interface, and more.

Still not convinced? Here are nine reasons why you should adopt an online ordering system - especially one that's integrated with your point of sale to improve efficiency.

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Why You Should Offer Online Ordering at Your Restaurant

Advantage #1: The Demand for Online Ordering is Real

Let's get the first reason out in the open: the demand for online food ordering exists. Offering online ordering conveys to your customer base that you are a modern restaurant and want to be convenient and accessible for all of your guests. Here are a few stats to prove this paradigm shift:

  • Since 2014, about 30% of diners aged 18 to 54 have ordered food from a restaurant's website via their phone or tablet.
  • For Toast’s top 10 FSR users of online ordering, online ordering makes up 8-10% of overall sales.
  • For Toast’s top 10 QSR users of online ordering, online ordering makes up 15-18% of overall sales.
  • QSR Web found that digital restaurant ordering is growing 300 percent faster than dine-in traffic.
  • According to NPD Group, more delivery orders will soon be placed online than over the phone. Note the trend in the chart below.

online food ordering system

Advantage #2: Online Ordering Drives More Revenue

Offering online ordering lets your guests place an order more conveniently. Without feeling pressure to wrap up their order, customers are more inclined to explore all of their menu options, and even end up spending more than they would when ordering over the phone or in person. This results in digital orders being $4 more on average than non-digital orders. With no line behind them, the pressure for your guests to make speedy orders is gone, and they'll be more inclined to get that extra item.

Advantage #3: You Won't Sacrifice Customer Interactions

Restaurateurs might feel online ordering takes away from the human interaction between their staff and their guests, but this is a misconception. While customers won't be speaking with employees over the phone, they still need to converse with someone when picking up their food, or with their delivery driver. These interactions will be less rushed, as your phones will be less tied up. Your staff will still be focused on satisfying the customer by creating delicious food and an efficient virtual guest experience. If anything, an online ordering program could increase the positive perception your guests have of your restaurant and the way you manage your business. 


Advantage #4: Order Accuracy Improves

"Excuse me, what did you say, ma'am?"

"Can you repeat that, sir?"

 "I'm sorry, I think you're breaking up!"

These interjections are all too familiar for anyone who takes orders over the phone. Occasionally, a misunderstanding occurs or an employee takes down the wrong order. Cue the angry customers, wasted food, and disappointed manager. With online orders, the customer makes everything clear on their end. Everything is in writing, and there's no mix up.

Why You Should Integrate an In-House Online Food Ordering System

Okay, sold on bringing online ordering into your restaurant? Awesome. Now let's take a look at why you should operate an in-house, internally managed online food ordering system as an alternative to exclusively using a third-party online ordering site.

Advantage #5: It's Customizable to Fit Your Needs and The Needs of Your Guests

online food ordering

With your own online ordering platform, you can make instant, real-time changes to your menu and design. You'll have control over your own brand, and customers will be looking at the website you created when they place their orders. Throw in some images of your food and anything else you think will make your brand more appealing, and easily adjust menu offerings and wait times for accurate expectations and prices.

"Toast lets us customize a background image and upload pictures of the items on our menu. I always say that customers don’t just buy because of taste, they buy with their eyes."
Daniel Ganem, Co-Founder & Executive Chef at Zuuk Meditteranean Kitchen

Advantage #6: You Keep the Profits

Unlike an online ordering aggregate site, hosting an online ordering system from your restaurant's point of sale means you keep all the revenue from the transaction. No more losing large profit percentages to the middleman. Instead, paying a flat fee for this functionality allows you to plan for that expense entirely. The more you sell, the more profit you earn.

Advantage #7: You Won't Lose Business to the Competition

Some online ordering sites host vicious bidding wars between restaurants, with some businesses offering up to 30% of their revenue per-order to earn a spot at the top of search results. Alerting your customers that you operate your own online ordering platform through social media pages, Google My Business, and take-out menus encourages them to visit your own online ordering site. Therefore, the chance of someone looking for you online and landing on one of your competitors is gone.


Advantage #8: In-House Online Ordering Can Coexist with Third-Party Websites

Offering restaurant online ordering through an external source does have clear benefits. In cities and highly saturated markets, it's a great way to expose your business to new customers. Unfortunately, you'll continue to pay that customer acquisition cost on every order that they place through that site, even after that first time order.

Instead, print receipts or menus offering a 10% discount on their next online order through your own website. This will save both you and your customers money on future orders. It's a win-win scenario, and you can still work with third-party websites to get your name exposed to new customers.

Advantage #9: You Collect Crucial Customer Data

If the eight reasons above didn't convince you, this one definitely should. In a business where knowing what your customers want is an enormous advantage, in-house online ordering is a great way to get that insight. Unlike third-party online ordering vendors, in-house food ordering systems allow you to record customer information and order patterns for every transaction. Without this data, you can't tell who your regular online customers are, what they're ordering the most, and when they order from your restaurant. Collecting customer data allows you to create a more customized guest experience online.

Online Food Ordering Systems

In no time, online ordering for restaurants will play an even bigger role in the food service industry than it already is. What are your thoughts on online ordering? Do you operate online orders from an internal software from your point of sale?

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