To-go meals are a growing segment of sales for many restaurants, but managing the back end of the ordering process can present its own logistical challenges. Online ordering provides a means of capturing business that is more efficient and accurate than taking orders over the phone, and it can even result in higher ticket averages than those of in-store guests.There are many third-party platforms that offer online ordering, but it’s important to shop around because they all come with their own fees and service issues. One option is to look for a point-of-sale (POS) system that includes an online ordering feature. This can be a way to save up to 30% in fees, which, if you are growing your takeaway business, adds up fast. Examples of POS systems with online ordering include Square, Clover, Toast, and Cake. No matter what online ordering system you use, here are some guidelines:
Make It Nice
Just like a plate coming out of your kitchen, you want your online menu to look just so. It’s essential to create an aesthetically pleasing website/online menu with vivid, professional photography. Unless you have a solid background in photography, this is not the time to DIY. Invest in quality photography of your food, and you’ll see the results as guests increase their spending on online orders.
Make sure you’re providing clear descriptions of menu items and that the website is user-friendly. If a customer gets frustrated, it’s easy for them to close the tab and try another website. Make sure your website is foolproof. And remember, many customers will be using mobile devices to place their orders, so it’s important that your ordering platform be optimized for a mobile experience.
Train Your Staff
Let your staff try online ordering before it goes live to the public, just as you would train staff on an opening menu. You are looking for bottlenecks and service issues from the customer side and the service side. Run through some possible scenarios for errors and how to handle them, and make sure to train your staff consistently on how to do so. After about a week of testing the online platform, debrief with staff to learn what worked and what needs improvement.
Include online ordering in your training manual so new hires are trained on the system just like anything else, and reference online ordering in your regular service menus to address any issues that come up from week to week.
Get the Word Out
Use in-store signage, table tents, and receipt messaging to communicate with existing customers about your online offerings. Tap into social media and e-newsletter networks with giveaways and promo codes to entice customers to place their first online orders. Send a note to local press to let them know that you are now accepting online orders, and consider offering a free meal to the newsroom of a few of your favorite local media outlets so they can try it themselves.
Look for an online ordering platform that can remember data from previous orders and make suggestions for customers who are placing repeat orders. Consider combining a loyalty program with your online ordering service so that customers who use it regularly are encouraged to keep coming back for more.