Online ordering is a way of life when it comes to booking flights, making reservations, buying clothes, and of course – conveniently ordering food. Each online ordering system is a little different. Some might provide 50+ restaurants to choose from. Others might link directly to a restaurant’s website where customers can place direct orderers. Regardless of the service, the process is basically the same. Customers use their computer or phone to access a restaurant’s menu and place an order for pickup or delivery. The continuously-growing popularity of online ordering benefits both restaurants and customers. So what are the ‘must-have’ features of a good online ordering system? Let’s take a look.

Simplicity

The goal of every online ordering systems should be to make the ordering process as easy as possible.  Keep in mind – the #1 benefit online ordering provides customers is convenience. To maximize customer convenience, it’s best to minimize the number of clicks needed to complete an order.  The fewer the clicks, the easier it is for customers to place an order.. If the menu is easy to view and navigate, customers will feel empowered to y choose what they want. As a result, they are  likely to order more. Over 34% of diners say they usually pay up to $50 per order when ordering food online. Outside of the customer experience, an online ordering system needs to be efficient for your restaurant. The system should be able to quickly and accurately print orders for fulfillment.

Branding and Control

Not all individual sites are the same. Some are very basic, while others provide a variety of features and benefits. The best systems allow your online ordering site to be properly branded and tailored to your restaurant’s look and feel.  Using a system that provides you direct access to your site’s settings and allows you to edit your menu and site design is ideal. The best systems will also provide you feedback and statistics on ordering trends and customer data. With 86% of consumers using off-premise services at least monthly, this can be powerful.

Data

Capturing valuable information about your customers helps you improve your processes and menu in the future. Using a service that has built-in reporting features can help improve customer retention and growth. The service you choose should allow you to collect information about your customers and their ordering history. This information can help you identify trends, learn more about your customers, and plan marketing campaigns and promotions.This type of data is critical for customer growth.Having  a system that incorporates data and marketing components, will give you the optimum chance to grow your online business. Having a fully-integrated platform that includes email marketing, social media, loyalty programs, promotional system, mobile marketing, and more will help you stay engaged with your customers.

To be competitive in the off-premise market — going up against other restaurants and other food-service providers like supermarkets, operators need to address who they are targeting and how,” said Melissa Wilson, principal with Technomic. “A lot of brands need to re-evaluate who their heavy users are.”

Not all systems provide the components listed above. As a restaurant owner, you know the value of your brand and what works best for your team. A system that provides your restaurant the best ability to maximize the benefits from online ordering is going to be most effective. More importantly, a system that’s easy to use will provide your customers with a positive experience and will keep them coming back.

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