Is Online Ordering a Necessity to Revive Your Operations?
A New Normal for Businesses
By most accounts, 2020 was on track to be a record year for restaurant and retail sales. Then coronavirus (COVID-19) hit, decimating all projections and leaving a bleak, uncertain marketplace in its wake.
It isn’t hard to uncover bad news about the pandemic. However, the global event does have some silver linings, with operational innovation among them. As the adage goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Forced to consider alternatives for connecting with customers in a time of mandated lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders, businesses have increasingly sought digital means. Among those includes online ordering as a way to stay open and profitable.
This sentiment is reinforced in a Nation’s Restaurant News tech tracker article. “Now online is no longer nice to have. It’s a necessity to stay in business,” says Mo Sloan, founder of EZ-Chow, a Louisville, Ky.-based company that provides e-commerce solutions such as online ordering for restaurants.
Has your business considered online ordering as a means to navigate the new normal brought on by COVID-19? If not, here’s a closer look at the solution. This post also explores other factors to consider when weighing whether this is the right avenue for your business to explore and implement.
Online Ordering Overview
Before we dive into specifics, here’s an online ordering overview: it is a means for customers to make purchases without having to physically visit a business. In the socially distant environment of COVID-19, this is a more appealing option than ever for purchasing food, goods, and services.
Even in a pandemic-free environment, online ordering is a great way for businesses to broaden their reach and customer potential. It opens the business offerings beyond the confines of a brick-and-mortar facility. Anyone with an Internet connection can find your business and make a purchase—the ultimate consumer convenience.
There are two different ways to approach online ordering: a native online ordering system, and a third-party online ordering service. We’ll explore both approaches below.
Native Online Ordering
This type of online ordering solution is built directly into your point of sale (POS), offering the most control over your offerings without extra fees. With this option you have to manage details like delivery logistics if you choose to include delivery in your offerings, but it’s a great option for takeout or curbside pick-up.
Third-Party Online Ordering
With third-party online ordering, you’ll choose from a number of different apps for a solution that integrates with your POS. A perk to this approach is that you get instant access to the app’s network of delivery drivers. Additionally, this approach exposes your brand to customers who already browse these apps regularly. However, the downside to this approach includes the fees and commission costs that can grow pretty quickly with every order.
Factors to Consider
As you evaluate the two types of online ordering available, there are some other factors you’ll want to consider related to adding this solution to your operations.
Simplifying your offerings for your online ordering menu can help you with speed of order fulfillment and with cost savings. For example, you can scale your options to include the most popular items, and (or) those that will travel best for delivery, takeout, and curbside pick-up orders. If you manage online ordering through your POS, making ongoing edits to your menu is as easy as pushing a button. Keep it simple for your staff, cost-effective for your bottom line, and enjoyable for your customers.
Loyalty and Rewards Programs
The main source of traffic for your online ordering site will likely be your existing customers. This means you’ll want to be top-of-mind for them when they turn to their mobile device or computer to place an order.
Providing a “wow” factor for customers can help you maintain a stronghold on their list of memorable brands. One way to do this is through a loyalty or rewards program. This will this help simplify and quicken the ordering process (with things like stored address and payment information). It can also let you save details like their menu favorites, dietary restrictions, and order preferences. To really go a step further, allow your regulars to earn points toward a small reward for continuing to choose your business when they shop.
Including delivery in your business offerings adds a major new element to your operations. Delivery management entails door-to-door optimization for your orders. This includes real-time order tracking and updates, a fleet of drivers, and route optimization. Whether you wish to manage these details in-house or pay for a third party to handle them is a big decision. The choice will likely come down to how you prioritize control, convenience, and cost.
Note that, along with additional logistics and cost of administration, the plus side of delivery is expanded reach and convenience for customers. Including it may ultimately lead to higher profits.
Include gift cards in the inventory you offer online for purchase. This is another revenue stream for your business. You can cash in even if the shopper isn’t ready to immediately cash in on an order. Additionally, more than 60% of gift card holders spend more than the value of their card upon redemption, giving your businesses extra earning potential.
So, is Online Ordering a Necessity?
Back to our opening question, it’s hard to identify operational necessities in general in such an unprecedented environment. What is clear is that flexibility, adaptability, and diversified revenue streams are key. They have been common factors in the businesses that have kept their doors open as this monumental industry shakeup develops. Only you can decide if online ordering is the right addition to your business operations. To learn more about Revel’s online ordering solution, check out our Online Ordering Resource Center or complete this short form to talk with a Revel sales rep about our standalone solution.