Phone displaying an online food menu
The Helcim Blog / Merchant Guides

Get Paid Online | The Ultimate Guide to Online Food Ordering

Miranda Russell | February 2, 2021

“If you’re operating a business in the restaurant or food and beverage industry, then you want to find the right tools to accept payments.”

5 min read

Ecommerce tools have surged in popularity over the past nine months as businesses adjust to a changing economy and new consumer demands. Adding omnichannel retail and payment solutions makes your business more adaptable and resilient. In this series, we’ll share the payment tools you need to get paid online.

In 2020, businesses from all industries can benefit from having an online presence and offering online payments to their customers.

If you’re operating a business in the restaurant or food and beverage industry, then you want to find a payment processor that gives you the tools needed to accept payments in-person and online. While also avoiding the expensive commission fees from third-party delivery apps.

Why Online Ordering for Restaurants Matters

Online ordering from restaurants was popular even before COVID, with 60% of US consumers reporting that they ordered delivery or takeout at least once a week according to Nation’s Restaurant News. When COVID placed strict restrictions on restaurants and limited or canceled all dine-in service almost overnight, takeout and delivery orders became the primary source of revenue for restaurants.

At Helcim, we saw a large increase in the usage of our online payment tools when COVID stopped businesses from serving customers in-person. Between March and April, usage of the Helcim Online Store increased 56% with an even greater increase in usage between April and May when Helcim launched Online Food Ordering specifically for restaurants and the online store usage increased close to 189%.

Choosing an omnichannel payments provider, like Helcim, who can provide you with in-person payment solutions and the ability to take your business online, makes your business more agile and better prepared to respond to business disruptions. It also helps to avoid the headache that can come from dealing with third-party delivery apps. According to Hospitality Technology, 43% of restaurant professionals said that they find third-party apps disruptive to their direct relationships between their business and the customer. Even more convincing, 70% of customers said they would rather order directly from their chosen restaurant and know that their money is going straight to the restaurant.

Knowing that a third-party delivery app will cut into your already slim profit margin and that customers support you in finding a way to offer online ordering directly through your business, it makes sense to incorporate online food ordering into your business. Even with some third-party delivery services offering to reduce or temporarily cut their commission fees, taking control of your online food ordering can help your business serve more customers and thrive.

Why You Should Take Control of Your Online Orders

When you set up your own online menu, you’re in control of your online orders from start to finish. You can set your prices, promotions, and select which menu items you want to be offered online, including adding item modifiers and add-ons for additional customization options.

You can also decide when you want to offer online ordering for further flexibility for your business. Maybe you just want to run a special pre-order promotion and accept all orders on Wednesday for pick up on Friday. When you have your own online food order – you can do that! Common options you will want to look for are the ability to assign location hours and specify how soon after placing an order a customer can come to pick up the items. Make sure your providers lets you easily view orders as they are received, so you can keep an eye on your order volume and update the status as orders are completed and picked up.

Taking control of your online food ordering means that you can avoid paying additional subscription and commission fees, ideally, you’ll just be paying the credit card processing rates for each transaction. Customers can order and pay right from your online menu, and they can even add a customizable tip amount.

The best solutions will prioritize a mobile-friendly menu option, so customers can browse and order right from their phones. Having a menu that is mobile-friendly makes it easy for customers to support your business, even when they’re on the go. Promote the link to your menu through your social media channels to make sure customers know they can order directly from you.

online payments with Helcim

Add QR Codes for Self-Serve Ordering

Once you have created your online menu, you can print QR codes to help customers access your menu quickly. Display the QR codes at your front counter or by your front door, so customers see them right away. If you often have customers stopping by your location to place a takeout order, the QR codes make it easy for them to place an order. Without them having to get the attention of your team members or physically come into your location to order.

With customers paying more attention to all the different touchpoints at a business, using QR codes to remove the need to handle menus, touch a terminal, and interact with servers, you are improving the customer experience while keeping everyone safer.

If you are serving customers in-person, you can print unique QR codes for each table for self-serve ordering where customers can pull up your menu, order, and pay all at once.

Not Ready for a Full Online Store? Try Hosted Payment Pages

The great thing about online payment tools is that you can choose from a wide range of functionality to find the tool that works best for you. If your restaurant isn’t quite ready to launch full online ordering, but you want to test the waters with a once a week pre-order, you can set up a Hosted Payment Page specifically for that one item.

Depending on your staffing levels, location, and product type, you might want to try offering one-off items to customers online to see how they are received and what your customer’s interest is. Some businesses that we have seen offering orders in this way are:

  • A ramen restaurant doing once a week pre-orders for a DIY ramen kit
  • A small pizza shop offering pre-orders for specific dates and times
  • Artisan chocolate shops offering boxes for special occasions for purchase online
  • A beer festival in a box that you could pre-order to be delivered

All of these items work well for hosted payment pages as you can easily set up and collect online payments for the specialized item. Having a specialized link lets you add additional details to your page or promote it through specific marketing campaigns to maximize your sales.

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