Takeout has become increasingly popular in recent months, largely as a result of the pandemic. Online ordering allows customers the convenience and comfort of ordering without even needing to leave their home or car. It also prevents unnecessary increases in phone calls to an already busy restaurant. Additionally, this trend presents a great opportunity for restaurants, large and small, to increase their sales. According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), 71% have shared that off-premise sales now make up more of their business than before COVID. Restaurants have taken advantage of this switch to remote ordering in various ways. Many also plan to keep these off-premise service options post-pandemic.
Are there more benefits to online ordering for the customer and restaurant, beyond the few just mentioned? What are some off-premise options that utilize online ordering? How can you increase online ordering traffic on your website? Let’s dive into these questions a little deeper.
Benefits of Online Ordering
There are many benefits to online ordering for customers as well as restaurants. A few notable benefits include:
- Time Efficiency
The customer no longer has to wait at a table or long lines for their food. Instead, they can simply pick up their order as soon as it is ready.
- More Information
With online ordering, restaurants can include more information on nutrition facts and other helpful details on menu items to give the customer a more thorough ordering experience.
- Optimized Operations
When customers are placing orders online, it prevents staff from spending extra time on the phone responding to orders. Rather, they are able to focus on regular operations to keep things flowing smoothly.
- Increased Sales
Online ordering allows customers more time to thoroughly look over the menu. This can lead to additional purchases that might not have been made when ordering under a time crunch in person.
- Greater Accuracy
Online, the customer is in complete control of their order, including a final verification before checking out. This allows for greater accuracy in the customer’s order and can be especially helpful for large orders.
Forms of Off-Premise Ordering
Now that you know the benefits of online ordering, what are some options you can implement to take advantage of this form of ordering? There are several different off-premise options that restaurants have chosen to adopt. However, two in particular have been especially popular choices.
- Curbside Pickup
One highly popular off-premise ordering option is curbside pickup. According to the NRA, 67% of restaurant operators have added curbside pickup since COVID began in March of 2020.
- Third Party Delivery
This is another popular option many restaurants have opted for. Almost a third (27%) of those surveyed have included a third party delivery option and 17% have added an in-house delivery.
It looks like these new additions are here to stay, as many restaurant operators have shared that they plan to continue to offer these options post-COVID. It’s safe to say their response is connected to the high level or receptivity by customers. There are now larger percentages of customers ordering from off-premise options than was seen before the onset of COVID.
Ways of Directing Traffic to Online Ordering
Okay, so you’ve learned that there are many benefits of online ordering and several forms of implementation available. However, you need to make sure people know about your newly added online ordering options. How should you go about directing traffic to your website?
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Use Social Media
Think about what you would do if you needed to promote a new change at your restaurant, such as a new menu item or special. What outlets would you use? You likely have several social media platforms, as they are basically a must for a business these days. That’s a great avenue to reach a large audience and direct them to your website. Creating posts, stories and reels can be effective ways to engage with potential customers, letting them know about your new options. You may also want to test the waters before you add a new option, using polls or contests, to see what services people are most interested in.
- Optimize Keywords
The use of keywords on your website is a great way to increase your reach. There are certain words that someone might use when searching for off-premise ordering options. To ensure you appear in their search, you’ll want to be intentional about including words on your web pages that would be common search words. Additionally, the use of hyper-local search words throughout your website is a great way to connect to locals.
- Be Mobile-Friendly
In today’s day and age, it’s essential for your site to be mobile-friendly. The majority of people accessing your site will likely be doing it from a phone, especially if they are on the go and want to place a quick order. Make sure they have the best experience possible by optimizing your website for desktops, tablets and mobile devices.
- Be in Directories
When people are searching for a place to eat they will likely come across online directories, like Yelp, in their search. Make sure to be on these sites to increase how often and easily you can be found. Also, make sure you are fully utilizing your Google My Business profile.
The future of the restaurant business is strongly tied to online ordering, with its many benefits to both the customer and restaurant. Make sure you are taking advantage of the many off-premise ordering options and optimizing your website traffic as much as possible to raise those revenue numbers.