Online Ordering is Coming

Online ordering is the new norm.  Are you ready?

By Jeff Stein, President, e|tab online ordering

High quality, delivered at an increasingly rapid pace, has become the “new norm” in an age of technology that enables products and services to be available with the click of a button or the tap of a finger. The new-age customer, raised in a world of instant gratification, does not simply want the option of being able to skip the wait on the phone and access your restaurant online: he/she EXPECTS it and will seek out other options if you cannot provide the experience they desire.

Your customers are hanging up the phone and going digital. In fact, statistics show that between 2010 and 2015, the numbers literally inverted: Phone orders decreased over 30% from 1.5B to less than a billion while online orders increased by over 300% – moving from 300M in 2010 to over 900M. This trend continued acceleration in 2016, seeing online orders move to over 1.1B while phone orders continued their steady decline.

What’s more, the actual sales data proves that online ordering is lucrative for operators. Take these notable statistics into consideration:

1) Operators that implement online ordering services experience an average of 10-15% growth in topline revenue. NOTE: e|tab has cases of 25-30% in scenarios where operators put modest effort into promoting its use.

2) Online ordering now accounts for over 45% of all pizza orders and this is projected to exceed 50% in 2017.

3) Online tickets are 30% higher on average than orders placed via the phone or with staff.

4) An online customer is more likely to re-order within 30-days than a phone or walk-in customer, simply because the platform is more accessible.

Additionally, as profitability is also driven by increased efficiencies and/or productivity, online ordering presents numerous other benefits:

1) With online ordering, order accuracy rises sharply, decreasing food waste and increasing satisfaction.

2) Online orders are paid for BEFORE they are picked up or delivered, avoiding “no-shows” and other payment issues.

3) Employees are not distracted by constant phone calls, allowing them to serve customers better.

4) Automatic ticket scheduling features allow for better management of order flow and increase the productivity of kitchen staff.

So: What does this mean for you?

It is this author’s opinion that no business should willingly ignore online ordering and its potential benefits. I have heard from numerous prospects that they “like things how they are” and “aren’t sure if online ordering is a good fit for their business.” The simple fact of the matter is that things will ALWAYS change and that the “fit” is not about the establishment – it’s about the customers. Perhaps online ordering will only marginally increase your business: but proper implementation will help ensure you retain and engage the customer base you have worked so hard to create.

There are two primary types of online ordering systems:

1)Marketing “Portals”: Examples of this type of system are familiar names like GrubHub and Seamless, as well as newer sites like Slice. The value of these services are largely experienced by operators looking to generate awareness of their business by potential customers unaware of their restaurant. This can produce great returns in large metro areas, frequented by travelers, or in locations where there is proximity to hotels or other tourist hot spots. Where these systems fail to deliver maximum value is REPEAT business. In the case of a repeat customer, these portals charge a premium for the “advertising” component, when that is no longer the value being delivered. Once a customer develops any sort of loyalty of affinity, the real goal should be a great ordering experience with efficient and easy transactional features.

2)“Branded” Solutions: These systems, like our own system at e|tab, provide the operator with an extension of their own brand online – which may be tied to their website, Facebook page or any other media they may use to promote their brand. In these scenarios, the customer is not pushed into a site category that may display a variety of other competitors. Rather, from start to finish, the customer interacts with technology that has been tailored to the venue, thus enhancing the customer relationship and experience – owned and managed by the operator.

One can make a logical argument for either system: or both! We have a variety of clients that use GrubHub and Seamless to generate awareness – and then convert clients to their own systems with clever promotion and messaging placed in or on their carryout containers. Regardless of which way you decide to go, educating yourself on the technology and creating this new connection with your customers can only help your business!

Adding something special to specialty foods for more than 60 years.