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National Restaurant Association - 5 ways online ordering connects you to customers

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5 ways online ordering connects you to customers

Quality online food ordering services provide you with more than just new web orders. They can connect you with new and returning customers in at least five innovative ways: online food courts, custom websites, mobile ordering, social media, and digital marketing. When selecting an online ordering solution for your restaurant, get familiar with the channels that are offered, and how each can benefit your business.

Online food courts
Many online food ordering companies run a website that lists the delivery and takeout menus of all their restaurant partners in one place. This gives users a convenient way to find the food they want and order it in a few minutes. Joining these “online food courts” instantly puts your menu in front of thousands of hungry users with a history of purchasing food online. This is a great way to acquire new customers.

Custom websites
Increasingly, online ordering companies are also offering to build custom websites with built-in online ordering. These websites can be great for independently owned restaurants. In addition to allowing existing customers to interact with your menu and order food, a personalized website also helps new customers discover your business through search engines and websites like Yelp and UrbanSpoon.

One word of caution: beware of websites that “hijack” your customers by redirecting them to an online food court once they click your “order online” button. We strongly caution against this because it dilutes your brand. Once your customer gets to a third-party website, they can easily order from the competition. Make sure the checkout process happens entirely on your own website.

Mobile ordering
The popularity and convenience of smart phones and mobile apps is leading to huge growth in mobile payments. Millennials in particular are glued to their phones. As their purchasing power increases, so does the market for mobile ordering. Having a custom mobile app or a mobile-optimized website allows your customers to carry your menu in their pocket and order your best dishes with the click of a button. Accepting mobile orders connects you to your customers in an exciting new way.

Social media
Social media is another area of rapid growth. Many online ordering companies tap into its potential to create brand awareness and quick word-of-mouth advertising. If your restaurant has an active Facebook page with a solid foundation of fans (“likes”), find out whether an online ordering service can provide you with a Facebook ordering app that let your customers order meals on Facebook. If you find it difficult to keep up with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., rest easy knowing that most online ordering companies do a great job of funneling potential customers from social media to their online food court.

Digital marketing
Finally, any online ordering service worth its salt provides you with multiple avenues to market your restaurant digitally. Online ordering services often have tens of thousands of email subscribers who can receive blasts featuring your weekend specials, for example. Other services may offer search engine optimization for your website that helps bring a steady stream of new customers to your checkout page at no cost to you.

Keep these five channels of connectivity in mind and you’ll feel confident when choosing an online ordering service for your restaurant.

This content was provided by National Restaurant Association partner EatStreet.

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