delivery boy carrying food to the destination

3 Challenges When Developing an Online Food Ordering System and How to Overcome Those!

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It’s time to refocus your online ordering efforts – back in March when you first rolled it out it was a stop gap measure for a few months and then outdoor dining happened and things settled back to normal – the hurdles you experienced when you set up your online store were minimized as customers returned to your restaurant and enjoyed all the benefits of outdoor dining.

Now as many states are calling for shutdowns and prohibiting outdoor dining or where the weather is just not conducive to it – it’s time to get back to online ordering and curbside delivery. Except now, you need to be more exact about how you do it – your customers continue to be loyal and supportive, but they are expecting a more efficient process from you. So how do you do that?

You need a multi-tiered strategy that allows you to draw customers using third party delivery apps but then convert them to your no commission ordering system.  There are three challenges in developing your online ordering system

a)       How do you draw customers?

b)      How to manage orders and deliveries?

c)       How do you engage customers on reorders and other promotions?

Third party providers eat up a significant part of your revenue in fees, although they do cast a wide net for you in terms of reaching customers. It’s not unusual to see fees of 20-25% from these services, and while it may make sense to pay that for delivering the customer the first time, it’s not feasible for operators to continue to pay that high a percentage all the time.

Operators must incorporate their own online technologies that will allow them to move customers from these third parties to “direct” orders thus eliminating these fees. These online systems are flat fee with no commissions, no server and hosting fees which means more money in your pocket as an operator; which is key in today’s environment. These online ordering sites can be up and running in less than 24-48 hours in most cases and have nominal startup fees, if any.

Having your own online site allows you to manage the offers, the brand experience and ultimately control your costs and margin; and while third party sites perform an important role in driving new customers; your online ordering system will provide you with key data on your customers allowing you to manage the relationship moving forward. So use a third party system; but then move that customer to your online ordering system.

The next area to focus on is order processing. Your online system should allow you to centrally manage your orders and update customers as the order gets processed and ready for pickup; keeping customers notified in real time greatly improves your customers experience and creates a very favorable impression of your brand. Updates create transparency in the whole ordering process and removes the mystery of will my order be ready, how long do I have to wait to pick it up etc. Having a way of clearly labeling and organizing the orders at the point of pickup with marketing and promotional information (such as a napkin or tag with a coupon code on your OLO site) also allows you to start the migration from a third party delivery service to your online ordering. Another way of doing this is by raising your prices on third party sites, but including a discounted price on your direct site; many restaurants find this the single most successful tool in encouraging customers to use their direct sites.

Lastly, use your POS or Online Ordering CRM to start building your customer data; create facebook and Instagram links to your OLO page for multi channel reach; promote your online ordering page in your restaurant, on your web page and through email campaigns,  offer a loyalty program that’s tied into your online site that’s tied into experiences and services, rather than just free product; it’s clear that customers want to support local restaurants and are open to engaging with them as brands – you can’t do that if you are not willing to protect your brand and the relationship with your customers.

Checkout retailcloud’s Online Ordering System for Restaurants – Click Here!

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