According to the National Restaurant Association, 42 percent of restaurant guests say the ability to place an order online will make them choose one restaurant over another.
Don’t get us wrong—managing a restaurant with online orders is a lot of work, and a major undertaking for any owner or manager. But more and more, this is a service that guests expect to have available to them, and restaurants that are still on the fence about offering online ordering might be missing out on revenue because of it.
So, if you’re ready to take the plunge and get started with online orders, reading this guide is the first step. Below, we’ll give the definitive guide to:
- How to prepare your restaurant, staff, and menu for offering and fulfilling online orders;
- What technologies you can use to set up an online ordering system; and
- The all-in-one platform restaurants need to quickly and easily set up online orders — and manage every other part of their digital presence.
How to Prepare to Offer Online Orders
Managing a restaurant with online orders isn’t as simple as deciding to start taking orders online and then getting started. There’s a lot of preparation that needs to be done to ensure that your restaurant is successful and guests have a good experience when they start to place orders online.
Step 1: Optimize Your Kitchen
The first step in preparing to offer online orders at your restaurant is to make sure your kitchen is set up to handle a new type of order and prep without interfering with your existing workflow.
This will be different for every restaurant. You might be able to incorporate online orders into the existing line (particularly if you already offer to-go orders), or you may want to set up a separate area for prepping and packing online orders.
You may also want to consider how pickup for delivery orders will work. If you don’t want the coming-and-going of delivery staff to interrupt the ambiance in your dining room, you may want to designate a specific door or area for picking up orders.
Step 2: Prepare and Train Your Staff
Changing anything about your restaurant’s workflow will require training your staff to know how to handle the new changes. Take enough time to make sure everyone understands any new processes associated with offering online orders, including how to facilitate no-contact pickup and delivery for as long as COVID-19 is a concern.
Step 3: Consider Your Menu
Not every dish you offer in your restaurant will be a good candidate for online orders, and now is the time to decide whether you’re going to make your full menu available, or a modified version of it.
For example, a breakfast dish that comes topped with a poached egg might not be a great dish for delivery, since it’ll be difficult to control the temperature of the egg in transit, and may arrive cold or overcooked from its packaging, giving your guest a disappointing experience.
You should also consider packaging for the dishes you plan to offer online. You’ll likely need several different kinds of packaging — like different containers for entrees and sides, containers for liquids, and small cups for sauces and dressings. Consider whether your restaurant can afford enough different kinds of packaging to maintain the quality of each dish as it travels. And remember that many of today’s guests want sustainability, so that may be another consideration when thinking about packaging.
Step 4: Choose a Tool to Help You Take Online Orders
You have a few options for managing a restaurant with online orders: You can use a third-party delivery service, which will publish your menu and coordinate orders on its own platform, or you can choose a tool that will help you offer online orders from your own website. There are pros and cons to each—we’ll get into those in more detail down below.
Step 5: Spread the Word
Finally, as you get closer to launching online orders for your restaurant, you’ll want to find ways to let your guests know about this new option. If you have an email list or a loyalty program, reach out to those guests — and consider offering a promotion for first-time online guests. Update your local listings on sites like Google My Business, TripAdvisor, and Yelp and make sure they all show that online ordering is available from your restaurant.
How Modern Restaurants Offer Online Orders: 3 Options
Let’s circle back to Step 4 from the list above: Choosing a tool to help you take online orders.
In the digital age, restaurants have no shortage of technology tools to choose from. The challenge becomes choosing the right tool that will bring the biggest benefits to your restaurant.
For online orders and delivery, there are three common options restaurants can choose from. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.
Option 1: Third-Party Delivery Apps
One popular option is third-party delivery apps, like Postmates, Grubhub, UberEats, and Chownow.
Option 2: Handle Everything In-House
On the opposite end of the spectrum from using a third-party app, restaurants have the option of handling online orders completely in-house—which usually means adding an online order integration to their POS and existing website, and staffing delivery drivers to transport orders.
Option 3: An All-In-One Tool that Makes It Easy
On one end of the spectrum, you have third-party apps. They’re easy and convenient, but you give up all your control (and money in fees and commissions). On the other end, you have in-house online ordering integrations. With those, you have all the control. But they’re complex and it can also be expensive to cobble together different tools, plug-ins, and integrations.
What if there was a solution that fell right in the middle of those two options?
There is. It’s called Popmenu.
Create and Manage Your Restaurant’s Entire Digital Presence with Popmenu
Offering online orders and delivery is a key part of staying competitive in the modern restaurant industry. But in the digital age, online ordering is just the tip of the iceberg.
Popmenu is the digital solution for restaurants that does it all: Menu management, website management, integrations with local listings and review sites, online ordering, gift cards, promotions, remarketing to guests, and so much more.
For too long, restaurants have had to adapt to each new digital need as it came along, cobbling together technology tools that don’t necessarily work seamlessly with one another. But not anymore, because now there’s one tool that can do every digital task modern restaurants need.
Get the platform restaurants need to manage their entire digital presence — from first impression to final bite. Schedule a Popmenu demo today.