Online ordering systems have completely changed the way that people order food for takeout. Currently, more than 60% of people in the United States order delivery or takeout at least once a week. This provides restaurants with a tremendous opportunity to grow sales but can also pose a challenge to operationally meet these customer’s expectations. As this demand grows, restaurants must stay current by using tools that can handle a volume of orders and seamlessly process delivery and pick up orders quickly. To do this, it’s important that restaurants keep their POS system and their online ordering system separate. Though it may appear that using a POS online ordering solution would be “easier” since the orders will automatically flow into the POS, often a POS online ordering system simply can’t perform as well as a standalone online ordering solution. Below are some topics to consider.
POS as a Hub
While some POS systems can take online orders, it’s often not a tool well-suited for the job. POS stands for “point of sale” and is really designed for customers ordering within the four walls of a restaurant. As such, a POS system should act as a hub not a gatekeeper for the services a restaurant wants to provide, such as loyalty or online ordering. Working with a POS vendor that is open to third party integrations allows a restaurant to select the vendors that best fit their unique requirements. Online ordering is a good example of this. Companies that specialize in online ordering will typically have better support, more robust development roadmaps and better go to market timelines for online ordering features than most POS ordering options, simply because online ordering is not the primary business of a POS supplier.
Most POS online ordering solutions will be limited in the customization of the user interface (UI). Usually, a restaurant will be forced to use a templated UI that allows for very little flexibility in the look and feel of the site. A robust online ordering platform should allow for full customization providing a seamless branded transition from a restaurant’s website to the online ordering site. In addition, customers want to customize their orders to their exact liking. In a normal restaurant POS ordering environment, the server can accommodate these requests with notes or directly talking with the kitchen. A vendor specializing in online ordering should have the ability to offer a customer all the modifiers and flexibility they need to place their “perfect” order electronically.
Lastly, it’s important to think about how online orders will be managed. Some POS online ordering systems lack a web interface that allows for managing orders. An online ordering vendor should provide a portal that allows managers the ability to view, print, adjust, cancel, transfer orders and more. This same portal should also allow for managing capacity (the ability to “throttle” orders to the kitchen based on volume, time of day, location, etc.).
So, if you are thinking of using a POS online ordering solution, make sure to research what other online ordering options are available on the market and note that you may give up some functionality for the “convenience” of using built-in POS online ordering software..