6
 min read

How to set up online ordering for a restaurant

Photo by Mr Yum at Neighbourhood Pizza

The craving for online food ordering continues to grow by the day, and the market will hit the $200 billion mark by 2025. If you own a restaurant or a hospitality business and want a slice of the pie, setting up an online ordering and delivery system will give you a head start. However, as you plan on tapping into this lucrative market, one question of how to set up online ordering for my restaurant?” will run through your mind.

Whether you crave convenience and ease or want to attract today's tech-savvy customers, an online ordering system gives you a chance in the cut-throat marketplace. Nonetheless, this needn't be complicated because if you choose the right mobile ordering platform, it’s as easy as setting up an account, loading in your logo and menu item photos, descriptions and prices.

Why You Need to Set Up Web-Based Online Ordering for Your Restaurant

If you’re thinking about how to set up online ordering for a restaurant, you likely already know some ot its benefits. But maybe there are some you haven’t considered:

Enhance the Customer Experience

People want a fast and immediate ordering service. You can only guarantee that if your restaurant allows online ordering. Today's tech-savvy customers prefer not to sit in restaurants for long waiting for their food and they don’t want to download another app.

How to set up online ordering for a restaurant? With the customer experience front and center. Customers want to see what they’re ordering beforehand —actual, high-quality photos of appetizers and entrees from the convenience and comfort of their own mobile device. Some traditional hardcopy menus offer accompanying images, but they can’t compete with an online ordering platform that offers fully visual menus. 

Related: Nailing your restaurant website: 5 ways to increase bookings

Online menus that feature quality images drive sales. After all, images boost customer engagement. Moreover, online menus with embedded ordering functions allow you to easily update your menu as your business grows and changes. You no longer have to worry about expensive runs of printed menus or the replacement costs associated with repairing damaged menus. Simply change your digital menu when you need it, keeping the customer experience in your crosshairs. 

It’s best to go with a web-based platform so guests don’t have to download an app. The easier it is for them to view and place an order, the fewer guests will abandon your site.

Give Them More Time to Check the Menu

Customers love to know the specifics of their food options. An online ordering system can contain details and descriptions of each meal item, unlike traditional menus. You can include ingredients, nutritional information and seasonal items.

Give Them More Control Over Their Orders

During rush hours, it's easy for details to slip through the cracks if you have a manual ordering system. Staff members will spend a lot of time taking orders on the phone, potentially resulting in missed information. 

An online ordering system allows customers to manage their own orders and provide any special instructions they may desire. Not only does this ease the burden on staff members, but customers feel like they’re able to customize their orders to their exact specifications. This gives customers the satisfying feeling of getting exactly what they want, knowing the exact cost for their food (and extras) so they’re not surprised, and feeling like the restaurant is catering to their direct needs. 

And even if they think they know what they want, online menus are great for upselling or recommending items they may have yet to try. For example, if they order a burger, you can suggest they add fries. If they order regular fries, invite them to try the truffle fries.    

How To Set Up Online Ordering for a Restaurant: Approaches to Take

There are a couple of different ways to establish an online ordering system. The first method is by far the most time and resource-consuming method.

1. Develop Your Own Online Ordering Platform on Your Site

You can use your restaurant's website to feature your current menu and accept your customers' orders directly. Taking customer orders directly through your site means everything stays in-house. You'll have control of the entire process, from food prep to ordering and delivering. It also allows you to maintain contact with customers.

On the flip side, you must do most of the work, including managing payments and organizing customer deliveries. Some of these tasks may be out of your depth, especially if you're just starting out and want to focus on growing your establishment.

When you build your website using WordPress or a website building platform like Wix, you can accept orders directly. Customers can place orders on your site, you manage the orders, process payments, and facilitate pick-up as customers arrive at your establishment.

With a self-hosted online ordering platform, you'll need to identify a suitable website building tool, maintain the site, and have a team to handle customer orders and deliveries. You’ll also have to manage integration with a POS system.

Pros of Anchoring an Ordering System on Your Site

It Gives You Control of the Ordering Process

Anchoring your ordering system on your website, while time and resource intensive, gives you control over all aspects of your establishment's online ordering and delivery process. This includes pricing, menu offerings, and delivery area.

Access to Information

Dealing with customers directly allows you to gain access to their information. You'll get a clear picture of customer preferences and can use the insights to drive your communication and marketing efforts. The insights also come in handy when launching loyalty programs and offering discounts.

Profit Retention

Managing customer orders directly means your establishment can save on some costs by not relying on third parties, but you still need to invest in the right technology to make it work.

Cons

Having control of the online ordering and delivery process means handling all aspects of your establishment's website. Indeed, managing all the technical challenges that come with it is hard. For instance, if your website has downtime, you'll need to find someone to fix it. Also, if customers experience issues with ordering, you must provide support.

With an in-house online ordering system, your marketing outreach is limited unless you integrate it with your POS and CRM. You won't have an organic way to grow your customer base. For this reason, you may prefer an online ordering and marketing platform that helps you grow and increase customer loyalty and satisfaction.

2. Use a Web-Based Ordering and Payment Platform

If you want to maintain autonomy and still access a wider market, consider using a web-based ordering platform. These platforms come with powerful marketing, ordering, and payment tools, designed to help your restaurant grow. They combine the convenience of online ordering applications with POS integration to deliver ultimate convenience for your customers and the tools necessary to help your business thrive.

A web-based ordering platform is excellent for restaurants with a boatload of orders. Typically, it acts as a liaison between your POS and third-party apps such as delivery services. When a customer places their order via their preferred third-party app, it will get forwarded to you.

In this case, your staff won't have to accept the order and enter it into your POS manually. Instead, the web-based integration platform allows your POS and the third-party app to communicate so that the order gets entered into your POS automatically. This eliminates the typical hassle, errors, and time-wasting associated with entering orders into a POS manually.

This option is excellent for busy restaurants that need to get some work out of their hands. So, if your restaurant deals with many orders or juggles multiple delivery apps, a web-based platform with POS and CRM integration is excellent for you. It will help restaurant managers to better economize their time, focusing on what matters most: the customer experience. 

If the platform offers QR code ordering and payments for in-restaurant ordering, guests can scan the code and be taken directly to your digital menu, place and pay for their order without ever having to wait for a paper menu. This feature speeds up the order and payment process so guests can enjoy their time even more. It also gives you greater opportunities to sell more and ensure they see a menu that’s up to date so they’re never disappointed with a menu item not being available. 

Related: Top 5 tips to prepare for switching to a QR code menu

Pros of Using a Web-Based Integration Platform

Streamlines The Ordering Process

For restaurants with many orders, manual processes during food ordering and delivery must get eliminated because they introduce errors. A web-based integration platform eliminates the errors and streamlines the ordering process by automating everything. Your staff won't have to enter orders manually into your POS.

On the flip side, this option primarily suits establishments with a high volume of orders. It's somewhat pricey because you pay for both the third-party ordering and delivery service and the POS integration platform. Nonetheless, since everything is automated, errors are few and customers receive faster service. It's also easier to track your revenues.

Access to a Broad Customer Base

Third-party ordering apps and web-based platforms usually have a substantial customer base. So, signing up with one allows you to access their customers who are already looking to order food online.

Deliveries Management

With an online ordering application handling your deliveries and everything involved, you can focus on what you know best—running your restaurant. The third-party service will manage the nit bits of online food delivery, including managing orders and fleet maintenance.

Cons

The biggest drawback of using a third-party ordering service is that they charge commissions - how much depends on the platform. Some may charge a one-time activation or starter fee before approving your request. 

Rounding Up

Restaurant and hospitality businesses that want to survive in this competitive marketplace must adapt to customer trends. Online ordering is one such trend. Setting up an online ordering system for your restaurant helps you expand your customer base in addition to streamlining the ordering process.

As you set up your online ordering system, look for a platform that has more than just a digital version of your menu. To get the most out of the platform, you want guests to be able to view the menu, place their order and pay. Some platforms, like Mr Yum, even offer the ability for guests to split and pay their bill amongst their party and multi-vendor ordering functions as well. 

You also want a web-based platform with integrations with the leading POS, marketing, and payments service providers and no hardware or equipment set up.

Interested in learning how to set up online ordering for your restaurant? Onboarding through Mr Yum is easy and fast with no additional hardware requirements or on-site maintenance. Mr Yum is a completely web-based, mobile menu, ordering, marketing, and payment management system built for everyone from the small business owner to major concert venues. Contact us today to get started.