Even before COVID-19 struck, guests were already moving in droves toward online ordering. According to survey results from the National Restaurant Association, 60% of all restaurant and foodservice sales were takeout, drive-through, and delivery back in October 2019.
Now, with mandates in most states forcing restaurants to only offer off-premise dining, dine-in revenue has declined by 68% across the country.
With these new requirements in place, you might be hesitant to set up your own online ordering system, especially if you already use third-party delivery, or if you think your restaurant concept might not work with off-premise ordering. But this is a time to adapt and be flexible in the face of huge hurdles.
To help restaurants adapt, we’ve launched Toast Now™, making it easier for you to move your business online so you can serve customers now. 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.
Need another incentive? 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.
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 delivery aggregator app. These perks include the ability to collect insights on individual customers, the ability to create a customizable user experience and interface, and — most importantly — the ability to keep all the profit from delivery meals, with no commissions paid to a third party.
Still not convinced? Here are seven reasons why you should set up your own online ordering system, especially one that's integrated with your point of sale.
Advantage #1: Online Ordering Drives More Revenue
There’s a reason why guests love ordering online or through apps. Without feeling pressure to wrap up their order, customers are more inclined to explore all of their menu options, and they even end up spending more than they would when ordering over the phone or in person. As mentioned above, digital orders are 23% larger, 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 menu item.
Advantage #2: Hospitality Can Extend to the Guest’s Home
Restaurateurs might feel that online ordering takes away from the person-to-person interaction between their staff and guests, but there are ways to imbue your online orders with your restaurant’s particular brand of hospitality.
While customers won't be speaking with employees over the phone, or visiting your restaurant in person, you can add personalized thank you notes and customize your receipts to make sure your brand shines through in a delivery or takeout order.
Especially now, these little touches show your guests that you appreciate their business, and that you’ll want to see them back in the dining room when this is all over.
Advantage #3: Orders Are More Accurate
In any restaurant, misunderstandings happen, whether an order is being taken over the phone or in person. This can lead to wasted food, and even more importantly, frustrated customers who might not come back.
With online orders, the customer has greater control, making everything about their order crystal clear — everything’s in writing so there's no real chance for mix-ups. For guests with allergies or dietary restrictions, this is especially important.
Advantage #4: In-House Online Ordering Systems are Customizable
With your own online ordering platform, you can make instant, real-time changes to your menu and design. You'll have greater control over your brand, and customers will be looking at the website you created when they place their orders, rather than looking at a third-party app.
Throw in some photos 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,” said Daniel Ganem, Co-Founder & Executive Chef at Zuuk Meditteranean Kitchen.
Advantage #5: You Keep the Profits
Unlike an online ordering aggregator app, like UberEats or Grubhub, hosting an online ordering system that’s integrated with your restaurant's point of sale means you keep all the revenue from every 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 #6: In-House Online Ordering Systems Can Coexist with Third-Party Apps
Offering restaurant online ordering through an external source does have clear benefits. In cities and highly saturated markets, third-party delivery apps are 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, because of commission fees.
To encourage guests who find you through an aggregator to order from your site next time, add a promotion to your print receipts or menus offering a 10% discount on their next online order through your own online system. 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 out to new customers.
Advantage #7: You Can Collect Crucial Customer Data
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, and to market to them more effectively.
Online Food Ordering Systems
These days, online ordering is the only way that your guests can experience your food and hospitality. Make sure you’re getting the most out of every order, and that your online ordering system sets you up to make first-time customers into regulars — especially once this COVID-19 crisis is over.
*Terms & conditions apply. Visit https://pos.toasttab.com/terms-of-service/toast-now for details. Card-Not-Present payment processing fees apply when you make a sale: 3.5% + $0.15 for Visa, Mastercard, Discover and 3.89% + $0.15 for AmEx. If you only purchase E-Gift Cards, payments are processed through a third-party at a standard rate of 2.9%+$0.30.