There are now multiple direct to consumer food ordering systems fighting for your attention, some are stand alone solutions, some are integrated into POS systems. Some claim to do the ordering in your facebook messenger, others want you to create an app. With all these options now available, choosing can be difficult. Online ordering is a completely different way of doing business than an POS system, so the mindset needs to be that it’s its own business with its own set of rules for success.
Total Time: 10 minutes
Understand the Priorities: Customer Experience
Regardless of how easy it integrates into your POS, if the online food ordering system you set up doesn’t provide the optimal experience for your customers…then you will be “integrating” a lot less orders into your pos system. Priority #1 needs to be giving the customers the best possible experience: easy and beautiful to use, while being the quickest possible process completing their order.
User Interface Matters…Again Customer Experience
A user interface needs to be secure and employ trust if you expect anybody to put in their personal information and billing info. If the interface is slow, dated, not using https, clumsy, then it should be expected that less people will complete their order. Simply having online ordering is enough, it needs to look polished and up-to-date. The goal is not just getting people to click your order button, it is to get people to finish the ordering process.
Pictures in the Online Menu Experience
Food is both a flavor and visual experience. And if you forgot the first two points, let me say it again: customer experience leads to order completion. Even though what I am about to say might sound common sense…it must be noted that people will tend to order more food if they can actually see what they are ordering. So if you can put a picture of the food that they will be ordering next to the option to add that food item to their order, you will get more people buying that food than if there is not a picture. It’s common sense, and an absolute necessity if you want to maximize the amount of people completing their orders.
Must Load Fast on WiFi and 4G
Do you think an ordering system that takes 10 seconds or more to work exudes trust and a feeling of a strong aptitude of technology that can be trusted to be handling personal and financial information? Speed matters on all platforms. Just because a POS system wants to be doing an online ordering system doesn’t mean they have the talent to do online ordering, it’s a completely different business. So before making any decisions about how you will accept online orders test the actual system as a customer on both a computer AND on a cellphone connected to a 4G data signal. Again this seems like common sense to actually test things. The results may be shocking. You may expect a large POS system to be able to deliver a first class ordering experience…but the results might be shocking. Promises of a big brand mean nothing to your customer’s experience, it must deliver results. Do not rely on the advice of a 24 year old account rep trying to make their quota without technical input on the product… test test test.
This cannot be overlooked, understand who has access to your customer data. Read the fine print and ask questions. If an online ordering system is pushing your clients to an “account” they are grabbing your customer data. They will say it’s for your benefit, but in fact they use this data and sell it to 3rd party companies that want to advertise to your customers based on their buying habits. Who buys this data?… big VV funded food delivery apps ready to start their wave of ghost kitchens. Your customer data should be for you and you alone to do as you please, not be accessible to 3rd parties.
An Easy to Update Menu is Important
What if you run out of mushrooms and need to take it off the menu immediately, how easy and quick is it to update the menu? Not being able to make these changes quickly and easily can cause confusion with your customers leading to fewer orders. So make sure it is very easy and immediate to be able to make changes to your menu online.
Reasonable Customer Support Response Times
When things go wrong or aren’t set up right on your site with your ordering system and you don’t know why but you are opening your restaurant for Friday night service in 2 hrs… how fast does your food ordering system respond if you are a small business with only one location. Some platforms have been known to give their front of the line support to their “white whale” clients with 3 more more locations while they give the back of the line support to the people with 2 or less locations.
Don’t Ask your Customer to Create Login to Complete an Order
Only ask for what you need to get that customer to pay money. Make everything to complete the order as FAST as possible. Makes sense, seems obvious… and yet so many ordering systems prompt the customer to create an order? Does this idea of creating another account, giving away a facebook authorization, or thinking about another password to remember bring joy to that customer? Of course not! But that company wants data! That’s how that company gets the customer to sign off on a stored data agreement! Does that help you? They would love you to think so by saying that they are going to help you better market to these customers and keep track of their favorite this and that, loyalty program blah blah they are full of shit. They are selling this data, using it for their own personal gain to brag to investors on all the consumer data that they have, and then try to eventually up-sell products to them and set cookies for tracking! They will claim it will create a better checkout experience… when in fact it’s possible to prompt a browser to store their checkout data on their own computer for the same speed of re-ordering as if there was an account. So in summary, be wary of any ordering system trying to prompt customers to create an account.
Order Workflow Efficiency Translates to More Order Completion
Reduce clicks and scrolling as much as possible. Ordering completion rate will increase the more obvious ordering is, and decrease when the ordering process is less obvious. To increase the ordering obvious score, the goal is to reduce the amount of clicks and reduce the amount of scrolling necessary to complete an order. That means look for a system that has eliminated everything that is unnecessary to complete an order.
Coaching to Connect the Dots
Sometimes some less than honest organizations have hijacked your digital presence without you being aware. It’s really helpful to have real experienced experts review how you look online and coach you on how to get un-hijacked to help ensure your google business page points to your ordering system, and so that no 3rd party companies have created hidden micro-sites to further steal your seo.
Maintain your Branding from Start to Finish.
It’s your customers ordering your food, so during the ordering process it should be your branding that is prominent. Some ordering system want to make themselves the “star” of the show…don’t let that happen. Make the ordering experience about your food, and your brand. Keep it focused.
Pay Attention to the Ordering of the Steps of an Ordering Process
People clicked on the order button because they are hungry, they are thinking about food. So step 1 show them the food choices, descriptions pictures, food! Step 1 should not be asking your customer some personal information or to choose a pick up time or a delivery time, that throws people off and is jarring. Show them food that they can eat, let them build up their choices, THEN let them choose the boring technical things like delivery time or pick up time.
VC Backed Companies don’t Always Create the Best Product
Test an actual live product before committing with the above steps above. Just because a company has a huge marketing campaign with lots of promises doesn’t mean they actually deliver the best product. Now that you are armed with the knowledge of how to compare, take the time to compare live examples and actually think about which product is going to complete the most orders.
With Menu by StoreGear we offer a solution that is a customer first approach to a direct food ordering system. While being the quickest and easiest way to order food for customers, Menu by StoreGear is still easy to manage.
As a restaurant owner you can:
- Export out data of all customers and orders to a csv file for easy accounting
- Information to do follow up marketing to customer with emails and phone numbers
- Track customer spending habits
- Create your own promotion codes that you run and not be forced into running platform promotions
Our system also saves the customers ordering info on their own devices so that it is convenient for them to re-order. Why don’t other platforms do it this way? Because they want your data.