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  • Writer's pictureMaya

Online Ordering Systems: A Cost-Effective Solution or a Costly Mistake?

A person holding a smartphone displaying an online food ordering system, with a book cover titled "Online Ordering Systems: A Cost-Effective Solution or a Costly Mistake?" by eatOS.

The digital age has revolutionized the way we order food, making online ordering systems a common feature for many restaurants. While these platforms offer convenience and accessibility to customers, it's crucial for restaurant owners to carefully assess whether they're a wise investment or a potential financial burden.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the advantages and disadvantages of online ordering systems, exploring factors such as cost, implementation, customer experience, and impact on operations.

By understanding the nuances of these systems, you'll be equipped to make an informed decision that aligns with your restaurant's unique needs and goals. Whether you're a seasoned restaurateur or just starting out, this guide will provide valuable insights to help you navigate the world of online ordering and determine if it's the right fit for your business.

The Upsides: Why Online Ordering Systems Are So Tempting

  1. Increased Convenience: Let's face it, we're all a bit addicted to convenience. Online ordering systems tap into that desire, offering customers a seamless way to browse menus, customize orders, and pay without leaving their couch. This convenience factor can significantly broaden your customer base.

  2. Higher Order Values: Studies show that customers tend to spend more when ordering online compared to in-person or over the phone. Why? Because online systems make it easy to add extras, explore the full menu, and avoid the pressure of a line forming behind them.

  3. Reduced Labor Costs: Handling phone orders and in-person payments takes up staff time. With online ordering, customers do the work themselves, freeing up your staff to focus on food preparation and customer service. This can lead to significant savings on labor costs.

  4. Data Insights: Online ordering systems collect valuable data on customer preferences, popular items, and ordering patterns. This information is gold for menu optimization, marketing campaigns, and even predicting future trends.

  5. 24/7 Availability: Your virtual doors never close. Online ordering allows you to take orders around the clock, even when your physical restaurant is closed. This expands your reach and opens up new revenue streams, particularly during late-night cravings or busy workdays.

The Downsides: The Hidden Costs and Challenges

  1. Commission Fees: Most online ordering platforms charge commission fees, typically a percentage of each order. These fees can eat into your profits, especially for smaller restaurants with lower margins. The good thing is, eatOS online ordering system has no third-party commission protocol. 

  2. Loss of Control: When you partner with a third-party platform, you give up some control over your brand and customer relationships. You're also subject to their rules and policies, which may not always align with your business goals.

  3. Technical Glitches: Technology isn't perfect. System crashes, bugs, or payment processing issues can lead to frustrated customers and lost orders. Make sure the platform you choose has reliable customer support and a good track record.

  4. Menu Management Headaches: Keeping your online menu updated and accurate can be a challenge, especially if you have a large menu or frequent changes. Mistakes can lead to unhappy customers and additional work for your staff.

  5. Customer Expectations: Online ordering sets a high bar for speed and convenience. Customers expect their food fast, and any delays or issues can quickly turn them off. Make sure you have the infrastructure in place to handle the increased demand.

Making the Right Choice: Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Do I need a third-party platform, or can I build my own? Building your own system gives you more control but requires technical expertise and a larger upfront investment.

  • How will I handle the increased demand? Do you have enough staff, kitchen capacity, and delivery drivers to meet the expected influx of orders?

  • What's my plan for marketing and promoting my online ordering? Don't just set it and forget it. Actively promote your online ordering options to attract new customers and encourage repeat business.

The Verdict: It's All About Finding the Right Balance

Online ordering systems can be a powerful tool for boosting sales and reaching new customers. But they come with costs and challenges that need careful consideration.

Pro Tip: If you're unsure, start small. Try partnering with one platform or limit your online ordering hours to test the waters and assess the impact on your business.

By weighing the pros and cons and choosing a platform that aligns with your specific needs, you can harness the power of online ordering to grow your restaurant and stay ahead of the curve.

 A person using a cellphone to explore different online ordering options for a restaurant.

Ready to See How Online Ordering Can Work for You?

Interested in exploring a customized online ordering solution for your restaurant? Request a free demo today and discover how you can streamline your operations, increase sales, and delight your customers with a seamless digital experience.


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