Anticipating pizza orders will be a game changer for pizza restaurants
We’ve seen a small movement of pizzerias and mobile pizza businesses offer preordering. It’s a move we see that may revolutionize pizzeria operations. Preordering pizza will be among next big pizza trends.
I’ve been monitoring and spotting pizza trends for over a decade. The pizza industry has seen several shifts and I’ve become attuned to anticipating what’s next in the pizza industry. Preordering will be in the next wave of big pizza trends.
Our Pizza Today team often jokes that I can see trends a few years before they become mainstream. So, I am calling it right now, a few years from now pre-ordering pizza will be mainstream. And early adapters will be ahead of the curve and capture those customers who would like to pre order pizza right now.
What is pizza pre-ordering?
Pre-ordering or advanced ordering allows customers to plan ahead and order from a pizzeria’s menu ahead of time through its online ordering platform or specific pre-ordering app. I believe we will see a potential pendulum shift with more customers seeking to order food in advance. This can be same-day ordering, or this could even be days or weeks in advance.
Preorders can be managed through an online ordering platform or other preordering specific platform. If you are looking into pre-ordering systems, be sure that the platform will integrate seamlessly into your online ordering, POS system and third-party delivery apps.
Why do people want to preorder food?
The short answer is convenience. It’s a tool that makes meal decision-making easier. Think about pizza Friday nights. I know families that order the exact same pizza order from their favorite pizzeria every Friday night. It’s a routine for them. So, let’s make it easy for them to put in their order for the next week or even the week after that.
Preorders are especially beneficial to new restaurants and foodies who love to try the new hot spot. Keeping the local foodies in the know when preordering is available will help guarantee that they get some of the first slices from a new pizzeria.
Say, you have an in-demand hot specialty pizza that sells out faster than your team can make it. Set it up for pre-orders only. When you release it to your loyalty club and socials, your pizza fans will not only be able to get the sought-after pizza first, but they will also know that you value their time and loyalty to your pizzeria by adding “exclusivity”.
How will preordering help pizzerias?
- Sales projections. We see the operational benefit as the biggest enticement for pizzerias to offer preordering. Along with your past performance stats from your POS system, tapping into preordering can allow you to better plan for rushes and other busy times.
- Guaranteed sales. The customers who choose to preorder pay in advance for their pizza order so you can depend on those sales on any given day.
- Special events, large groups and promotions. Another area we see preordering as widely beneficial is during special events, large groups and promotions. Often events can be considered controlled chaos. You have an opportunity to harness preordering to create a controlled crowd of orders. This also is seen as a customer service benefit to not have to wait in long lines. You’ve seen this play out successfully in other industries, like amusement parks’ systems to reserve spots in line for popular rides and attractions.
- Turning tables faster. Preordering can help in a dine-in setting, working similarly to a reservation system, except once a party enters the pizzeria and sits down, the wait time for food is diminished. Their order can arrive within minutes. I would recommend limiting dine-in preorders during predictive peaks and rushes. Or, managed effectively, you can designate a portion of your dine-in seating for preorders.
- Minimize food waste. Depending on how well your customers adapt to pre-ordering, you can also see a significant reduction in food waste as you’re better able to predict product ordering.
- Competing with third-party. Preordering can give you an advantage over third-party delivery providers. Being about to establish a predetermined pickup or delivery time can be an added convenience for customers. An additional benefit is that the former third-party customer is now in your system with more opportunities to market specifically to them.
But, like any new technology, there will be a transitional period of makeline and oven adjustments to accommodate the preorders. It will be similar to the shift when you added and ramped up online ordering. Introduce it in key ways like events, promotions and as a loyalty-specific benefit to test drive its application in your operation.
What are the cons of preordering?
There are a few pitfalls with preorders, as well. Addressing these two key areas will increase the success of your preordering initiative. They are:
Overpromising and under delivering. If you have not set up preordering correctly to limit the number of orders in a specific time slot, you can run into log jams in the kitchen which will slow everything down to a crawl for all orders. Not coordinating kitchen orders efficiently and effectively can cause the estimated times to be delayed. Customers may be less likely to use the service if their food is frequently delayed.
Lack of integration. If you go with a preorder system that does not integrate with your POS system, it is at your peril. Using two different systems for orders can lead to errors in reentering orders into the POS system, increase chances of missing an order and make analyzing sales more challenging.
Successful Preordering Examples
Now that I’ve outlined pros and cons of preordering, let’s look at it in application.
A Preorder-Only Pizzeria
Moto in Seattle, Washington has a three-month waitlist on pizza orders. To control the demand for pizza in his 500-square-foot pizza shop, owner Lee Kindell set up a preorder only operation. Moto receives up to 250 preorders on a given night. As he expands, Kindell will open to walk-ins and same-day ordering. The preorders have allowed the young business to grow in a controlled and predictive manner.
Mobile Pizza Business Preordering
A Slice of New Jersey in Byram, New Jersey focuses on public events and private catering. The output of this pizza food truck is limited. Owner Chris Hill devised a plan to better execute public events through preordering. He announces the dates and locations of his public events, giving his fans the opportunity to preorder pizza. The initiative is very effective.
Investigate how preordering can work for your pizzeria. If you have a thriving preordering program, we want to hear about it. Reach out to me at email@example.com.
Denise Greer is Executive Editor at Pizza Today.