Not all online ordering systems are created equally. Research shows that innovative and well-designed food ordering platforms are a necessity in today’s tech-savvy world. 62% of Americans have ordered food with an app or website.* Are you currently offering an online ordering system for your restaurant and considering a switch or an upgrade? The key question to ask is why? Understanding the keys to your current dissatisfaction and outlining the “must have” and “nice to have” features will help in forming a checklist for your search. (If you decide to issue an RFP, click here for a recommended outline).
To help with the search, consider these 6 topics:
One of the areas of dissatisfaction may be the limited features included with the current online ordering platform. Customers are becoming more and more demanding and keeping up with their online ordering feature requests can be a full-time job. Full service online ordering companies should provide a robust solution set including items such as group ordering, split payments, saving of favorites, one-click re-orders and more. For restaurants, features such as customized delivery zones with individual delivery fees, intuitive up-selling and a completely customized branded user interface may be “must haves.”
There are countless online ordering companies on the market, but many do not offer a full suite of innovative solutions. When thinking of a switch, restaurants should look for partners who build their solutions to support third party integration. In an optimal ordering ecosystem, a restaurant should be able to provide a seamless customer experience by integrating online ordering with POS, payment processing, gift cards, loyalty, delivery, native mobile application development and more. When considering a new vendor, make sure to fully vet if payment processing and reconciliation will be affected. In addition, consider how tickets may change the way they display on the KDS. It may seem like a lot of work, but the outcome is a system that provides ease of use for customers and operational efficiencies for the restaurant.
Another challenging area may be how the current system allows for order management. A good online ordering provider should provide a web interface that easily allows for local management of the orders. Restaurants can set the privileges based on user roles and orders can be adjusted, cancelled, transferred, or closed from this portal. Another important feature to consider is the ability to set/manage store hours and closed days as well as set/manage capacity per time slot, per location. Lastly, with a new vendor, consider their order escalation policy. If an order does not import to the POS, what happens? Is an email sent? Some online ordering providers will phone the order to the store. Therefore, ensuring the customer sees no disruption in their ordering experience.
A restaurant’s online ordering site is only as good as the company that maintains it for them. Partner with a vendor that has experience and passion for online ordering and exceptional references. They should be equipped to keep the site updated (menus, pricing, promotions, etc.) and provide a consistent, reliable platform. Check their security protocols and where/how your customer data will be protected and hosted. The easiest way to lose a customer is to have an online ordering platform that doesn’t function properly.
Look for a partner that specializes in restaurant online ordering. These companies will have robust development roadmaps that will keep a restaurant’s site up to date with current trends. In addition, a reputable vendor should be ahead of the curve on legal online ordering requirements, such as the upcoming online ordering nutritional mandate or ADA compliance requirements.
Timing is everything. If a restaurant decides to change their current online ordering provider, they should build their new site while their current site is still live. Manage the new site implementation timeline carefully and consider any contract implications with the current provider. Ultimately, customers should see no downtime when ordering online, just a new and improved experience.