E-commerce tools have surged in recent years, but finding the right platform for your business needs can be challenging. In this series, we'll discuss your options for setting your business up to take online food orders.
Why Online Ordering for Restaurants Matters
According to Nation's Restaurant News, 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.
Like the rest of the world, we learned a lot about consumer habits and the crucial new role of online food ordering and contactless shopping. When COVID placed strict restrictions on restaurants and limited or canceled all dine-in service almost overnight, takeout and delivery orders became restaurants' primary revenue source.
At Helcim, we saw a significant increase in our online payment tools usage 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 through our online checkout, use increased close to 189%.
Today, ordering food right to their door is something many consumers have come to expect from nearly all their favorite restaurants and has become an integrated part of their weekly routine. It is as crucial to staying relevant and competitive in this day and age as having a website.
The benefits and drawbacks of third-party food delivery apps
While food delivery apps can be convenient and well-known, they often have their own set of headaches and challenges. According to Hospitality Technology, 43% of restaurant professionals said that they find third-party apps disruptive to the direct relationships between their business and their customers. Even more convincing, 70% of customers said they would prefer to order directly from their chosen restaurant and know 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 offering online food ordering directly through your business, it makes sense to consider other options before giving away your profits.
Incorporate an online checkout into your business
Taking control of your online food ordering means you won't dish out hefty fees off of your profits, plus your customers can order right through your site. They can even save their checkout details for next time, so it's just as easy as using a third-party app. Plus, this gives you ultimate control of your customer relationship instead of relying on the service and reputation of a third-party app. Below we will explore more of the benefits and how to choose a platform.
What to look for in an online ordering platform
If you're looking into options for delivering your house favorites without the apps, you'll want to find a tool that lets you get into the nitty gritty without feeling lost or overwhelmed. This could simply mean the ability to:
- Set your prices, tipping options, and promotions
- Select which menu items you want to be offered online, including adding item modifiers and add-ons for additional customization options
- Customize your branding by choosing colors and uploading your logo
- Create and save customer profiles and payment information
- Assign location hours
- Add QR Codes for self-serve ordering and digital menus.
- Specify pick-up or delivery times
- Synchronize and track inventory across multiple locations
- Automatic customer status updates
The best solutions will also prioritize a mobile-friendly menu option, so customers can browse and order right from their phones. A mobile-friendly menu makes it easy for customers to support your business, even when they're on the go. This also allows you to promote the link to your menu through your social media channels to ensure customers know they can order directly from you.
Taking control of your checkout 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. They can even save their profiles to come back and order from their favorite local spots, time and time again.
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 ready to hire a website designer, but you need the ability to get food to your customers, you can set up a hosted payment page like The Helcim Online Checkout. Or, 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 your customer's interest is. Test the waters with a once-a-week pre-order, or you can set up a hosted payment page specifically for that one item.
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 the Online Checkout 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. Once you set up your full menu or a specific item, you can add an address for pick-up, or add your own delivery options. Your customers will love that they can support you directly and get their favorite dishes to go.
Build your perfect Online Checkout experience
Businesses need takeout options now more than ever. With the rise of third-party apps, it's becoming harder and harder to control your brand or customer experience. Instead, consider a platform system that gives you all the power. There are a few key features to look for from an online checkout, but the most important is the ease of use. You want your customers to be able to find what they're looking for quickly and easily check out without any fuss. Luckily, there are easy solutions to build a full menu or try out a one-off idea without worrying about complex coding or design work. Start building your Online Checkout page today.