If you currently do not offer online ordering, what’s stopping you? I am sure most, if not all, of your surrounding competitors do. The benefits of online ordering should not be overlooked. Here are five reasons why you should start offering it as soon as possible.
• New Customers. Just a few weeks after we launched our online ordering service, our online sales consisted of 1 to 2 percent of total sales. This was with no promotions, other than just having it available on our website. We noticed the majority of these orders were from new customers that found us through search engines.
• Higher Ticket Averages & Increased Sales. You’ve probably heard that online orders tend to have higher ticket averages. We see about 25 percent higher tickets on our online orders compared to our normal carryout and delivery orders. Logged-on customers can see all you offer and tend to purchase more than when they call in an order. Most online ordering systems have suggestive-selling features, where the customer feels less pressured and tends to order more, even more than if one of your employees on the phone were to suggest certain menu items.
• More Efficient Operations. With online orders, your employees spend less time on the phones and have more time for making orders and taking care of your in-house customers. There is also less room for error when customers place their own orders online, cutting down on chances for miscommunication.
• Better Customer Service. Customers aren’t likely to get frustrated by a busy signal or feel rushed if they have questions. Most of our orders come within a small time frame, and during this busy period the phone people have less time to really help and spend time answering questions. If information like hours, directions, descriptions, sizes and prices are all posted online, then those ordering online can get all the help they need at their fingertips.
• Lower Advertising Cost & Better ROI. Marketing your online ordering service to gain new customers and shift existing customers to become online ordering customers is less expensive when compared to more traditional avenues, such as direct mail, radio, newspapers and TV. Using social media and blogging is free. A customer online only has to make a couple clicks to take action and place an order. Services like Google AdWords, Yahoo, Facebook Ads and similar services allow you to target your ads with incredible accuracy, allowing you to get your message in front of those people who are most likely to be interested in what you offer.
Just as your operations have to be in good working order before you promote your business, so does your online ordering system. If things are not set up right and you start promoting it, you’ll lose valuable marketing dollars and sales. Setting up online ordering is not difficult, but you want to take the time necessary to set it up for success.
You should search for an online ordering provider or software that will integrate best with your operations and website. Ideally, you’ll find one that works in conjunction with your POS system and your kitchen printer. Make sure you get a buzzer as well for your printer so you always know when an order is coming in.
Once you choose the online ordering service that best fits your operations, you next must create and upload the content for your online ordering platform—such as images, headers, enticing descriptions, hours, delivery radius, pricing and other details. Never jump the gun and make your online ordering service available until you have it all set up, content in place, and tested thoroughly. Place orders yourself and take note of any errors or other reasons for changes.
When you finally open the digital gates, don’t expect the orders to immediately pour in. Let it run for a few weeks before starting to promote it. Ask those first customers that use it for their feedback on their experiences. After all the kinks are worked out and those who are using it are giving you positive feedback, then it is time to start promoting the service.
A very important thing sometimes missed or overlooked by operators is maintaining an online ordering system. Prices change, new items are added to the menu and items are taken off. Most platforms offer features to easily update your menu and to make changes. You just have to be on top of these things. No one wants to call a customer back and say you no longer carry something after it’s already ordered and paid for online. So you want a system that let’s you easily update and manage your menu and other details.
Don’t sit back while your competitors down the street rake in all the online-ordering customers in your area. There are way too many benefits for it to be ignored or pushed to the side.
Shawn Randazzo operated two Cloverleaf Pizza delivery and carryout units in the Detroit area and led seminars at Pizza Expo 2012 on the intricacies of setting up online ordering as well as what it takes to run a profitable delivery business.