The internet is fickle, fast, and all-consuming. Mix that with the fierce competition in the restaurant industry, and you have an almost impossible consumer experience code to crack.
In 2022, one meets the modern-day customer online. Research shows that revenue in the Online Food Delivery segment is expected to reach $343.80bn in 2022. Furthermore, the number of users in the Online Food Delivery segment is expected to amount to 529.2m by 2026.
Building a formidable online persona and restaurant online ordering system is hence critical, but how do you do that and manage to stand out in a sea of competition?
An overwhelming thought? Don’t worry. We got you. Here is a simple step-by-step guide to setting up an unforgettable online food ordering system.
The first and most important step is setting up your online ordering website.
The Anatomy of a Delicious Website
For the insatiable beast of online ordering, you need a website that can deliver the authentic taste of your food, virtually. Here are a few elements of the website or app that you should focus on to get started.
The Online Ordering Platform
Imagine someone is visiting your restaurant. Who would they interact with first? A waiter or a hostess, and this first interaction is integral to the customer experience. It is the protagonist of your brand story. Your online food ordering system is no different. It is the customer’s first interaction with the restaurant and is more than a revenue stream. It is a pool of endless opportunities for customer engagement. Also a good online ordering system is one that seamlessly integrates with your overall restaurant management system to ensure that your sales and operations functions are working in tandem.
This avenue should be updated, and menus and order timings clearly stipulated. You should not promise something and not deliver and have your customer trust your brand less. You can also use this platform on busy days like New Year’s for pre-orders to navigate the volume of orders you will manage on D-day and prepare accordingly. You will learn more about using data you collected online to your advantage, like customize your menu, later in this blog.
Also, since the orders come directly to you through your website, commissions are a thing of the past. It is zero commissions and all-around profit.
Use real images and videos
Your food is your model. Use different assets from your arsenal to showcase its beauty. Create an online and offline menu with real images. Give your customers a taste of your food online. It is found that customers are more likely to order something they can see.
Create videos of your food. Make behind the scenes of the chef creating magic. Let them take a sneak peek into the makings of what they plan to eat.
What else? You can put these pictures and media on your social media channels. It’s an integral part of your brand image and you have content ready so why not share it?
Build an easy table reservation system
Calling a restaurant to make a reservation is close to redundant these days. Making reservations online is easy for the customer and runs restaurant operations more efficiently. But this does not warrant the low effort. Engage with your customers. Show them your best sellers or chefs’ specials upfront. Inform them that their booking is confirmed and give them updates about their order.
Payment gateways for a super easy customer checkout
Offer your customers a smooth checkout experience. Online payments are now preferred, so set up different payment options for online orders. Provide your customer with all the available options – online, cash, debit, and card.
Be accessible, provide your contact and social media details
Social media can help you with full-funnel marketing. It is a great tool to spread awareness and for your customers to look you up online and place an order. Embed your social media posts on your website so your customers can find you and engage with your brand. Vice versa, provide the link to your website on your social media.
Additionally, provide your contact details like address and contact number for your customers to reach out to you. Give potential customers all the information they are potentially searching for.
Optimize your online food ordering platform to be mobile-friendly
Make sure your restaurant website has a mobile-friendly version. Customers can access your website from different screens of different sizes. Account for screen sizes and load times. Touch screen phones can make it a little hard to reach the smaller click buttons, so create them to be optimal size for all screens.
Tips to make your online food ordering system a palatable success
You have learned the dos and don’ts of creating an online food ordering system. Here are a few best practices you can adopt to make it a raging success!
Tip #1: Got great offers? Flaunt them on your website
Your website is the first interaction a customer has, and it should be a one-stop for all the information they need. Have great offers? Highlight them on your homepage. Whether it is a loyal returning customer or a new one, you need to titillate taste buds all the same. Have a devoted section for rewards systems and loyalty programs. If you are running a special event, have discounts for it or a customized menu, put it on the homepage. Make the information accessible and consumable to the customer.
Tip #2: Collect emails and customer data
Email marketing is a powerful tool that can help you increase ROI. Use it wisely. On your website, give your customer an option to share their email id to subscribe to the newsletter and to hear about new offers. Incentivize subscription with offers and discounts.
Inform customers of special events, menu updates, and offers. Furthermore, use this data collected for targeted email marketing. Segment your audience by their number of orders and roll out offers accordingly. Loyalty programs alongside email marketing can do wonders for you.
Tip #3: Engage and engage some more with website copy, chatbots, and more
Your website copy should be easy to read and engaging. It is the messaging of your brand and your vehicle to communicate with potential customers.
Next comes chatbots. They are the most efficient tools for service and relationship management. They offer customers flexibility, and you can make sure you add a personal touch to the chats as well. Chatbots can help answer questions, give out information and reduce the workload incrementally.
Tip #4: Build credibility with customer reviews
Customers get influenced by online reviews. Your old customers are the brand ambassadors for new ones. So, make sure you collect good reviews and showcase them on your website. Use the bad reviews as constructive feedback. Learn from them and keep moving forward.
Finally, now that you have all the information you need and build a restaurant online ordering system that stands out in the crowd! Decide your brand persona and bless your customer’s day with a warm bowl of your delicious food.
Don’t forget to tell us your best practices to reach out to customers in the comments.
Sabah Batul is a young professional with a background in Journalism and Literature. She is currently working in the Marketing and Communications domain.