The Pro's and Con's Online Ordering Software vs. Call-In Ordering

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Online ordering software vs. traditional call-in ordering: Who will win? Compare the pros and cons of both, especially for the pizza industry.

There's a serious change rippling its way through the restaurant industry. It's a silent killer - not as loud as the chef shortage or the tipping demise - but it's steadily rising in importance every day. That's right: online ordering, takeout, and delivery.

In the year 2010, 1.39 billion phone delivery orders were placed in the U.S., according to market research firm NPD. By May 2015, that number dropped to about 1.02 billion. However, in the same period, online orders more than doubled from 403 million to nearly 904 million.

As you can see, it's likely online food delivery orders will surpass telephone orders in the next year. Why? For starters, your customer base is increasingly more and more comfortable with their desktops, laptops, cell phones, and tablets, and expect convenience.

There's serious room for growth for restaurants who have never offered online ordering, or who have never integrated that software with their POS system. In fact, our data has shown that restaurants can save an average of 13% commission on every order when they switch from services like GrubHub and Foodler. For a restaurant with $100,000 annual sales, that's $13,000 a year.

The pizza industry is already catching on. According to Sam Sebastian, director of local and B2B markets at Google, Domino's, Pizza Hut, and Papa John's have shifted spending from traditional media to banner ads and search engine optimization faster than their fast-food competitors.

Currently, 40% of Domino's domestic sales come from orders through desktop computers, smartphones, and tablets.

But why have they moved away from phone ordering, and what does online ordering software offer that's different? What's in it for you? Besides the fact that, in the U.S., it's clear we're moving towards a broad shift to online or mobile ordering in general, with Amazon as king, here are some more reasons why you should drop your "traditional" call-in ordering model.

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1. Save Time & Money on Restaurant Labor

Restaurants need their employees cleaning, cooking, and taking orders - not spending heaps of time on the phone. With online ordering built into your restaurant POS, you don't have to worry (as much) about your employees' efficiency. In fact, Toast has a built-in notification system whenever an online order is placed, so it's automatically routed to the correct people, however, your workflow is built.

2. Guarantee Payment Upfront

Raise your hand if you've ever delivered pizza. Now, raise your hand if you've ever gotten paid in quarters, or worse, jolly ranchers. There's no need to wring your hands anymore about payment. With online ordering, payment is upfront. In fact, it's paid in advance, when guests give their credit card information and press submit. The best online ordering software save that information as well as previous orders for guests' convenience.

3. Orders are Always Accurate

"Can you hear me now?" Not with online ordering - because you don't need to listen through a crackly connection for someone driving through a spotty zone. We've all been there, but we shouldn't have to worry about misinterpreting orders. Phone calls increase the chances of misunderstanding what a guest is ordering. Save headaches from the classic he said/ she said situations, and if an order is inaccurate, point to the data trail behind it. No one can argue with data.

4. Capture Data For Your Customer Relationship Management System

Along those same lines, online ordering software helps you capture data for your customer relationship management system (CRM). We're proud to have the first robust CRM system for restaurants here at Toast, which captures credit card information, email address, phone number, and more, and organizes guests by their most recent visits, food and drink preferences, and even average tip spend.

For the guests' benefit, data from the online order provides a digital paper trail that shows exactly what they ordered. A phone order may end with a confirmation number, but you can’t be sure what that number confirms until you receive the order; with online ordering, receipts with confirmation numbers can be emailed instantly.

5. Online Ordering = Quicker Transactions

People like options. When an individual calls her favorite pizza maker, she may ask dozens of questions before finally placing the order. What sauces do you order? What comes with the margarita? Is there a gluten-free option? How about dairy-free? (Maybe not that last one.) The employee who answered the phone call is most likely also supposed to be making pizzas, so something is going to get neglected in this process. However, if the same individual places the order online -- where she can see the full menu, add-ons and all, right in front of her - she can order without distracting the pizza maker, increasing throughput for the pizzeria.

6. Increase Sales... In General

In an interview with Fast Company's Co.Lab's, Chris Brandon, a spokesperson for Domino's, said that primary benefit from the company's online ordering is that it increases sales for add-ons.

"Customers love it because they can experience more of the menu," Brandon said. "With Domino's before, you only needed to know a phone number and to think of your regular order or pizza order. Now that we have sandwiches, specialty pizzas, chicken, all these additional products and desserts, it increases sales."

Why? Well, a 2015 study looked at tens of thousands of orders over a multi-year period from a single pizza chain location and found that people spent more and got higher calorie meals when they ordered online compared to when they ordered on the phone.. Online orders had 14% more special instruction and 3.5% more calories, showing what we all knew about the Internet: we let our guard online... and order all the toppings.

Online Ordering Software Is The Future

The verdict? Online ordering software increases convenience for restaurant operators and guests.

Even with the sleekest menu and a fun website like Mattenga's, you still need a way to triage these online orders as efficiently as possible. The online order is only the start of a beautiful transaction; there must be systems in place for the food to be prepared (perhaps by having online orders automatically assigned to specific employees), then delivered to a guest's door as quickly as possible. It should also not be a pain to have to offer online ordering; it shouldn't be like another restaurant to manage, taking hours to update the menu.

“The fact that I can update my menu and it automatically updates my online ordering has probably saved me five to six hours a week," said Matt Mattenga.

You should be able to customize your online ordering workflow and see delivery tracking as well as detailed online ordering reports right in your restaurant POS system. 

Toast Online Ordering
Learn how a better online ordering system can help you save time and grow revenue.