The total market for takeout food at restaurants in the U.S. is an astounding $70 billion per year, according to Business Insider, an international business publication.

While this number will significantly grow over the next 10 years, it won’t grow as fast as the percentage of takeout business done online. Currently, about $9 billion of takeout business is ordered online. This means that just less than 13% of the total takeout business in the U.S. is processed online. Based on the current growth rate, however, experts predict that amount of business done online will surpass offline ordering within the next 10 years.

Of course, these online ordering figures are heavily skewed by major U.S. pizza businesses. Some of the top pizza chains already do 40% of their total takeout volume online, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Nevertheless, you can still use that 13% figure as a target. If you are above the average – and your online ordering business accounts for more than 13% of your total takeout business – congratulations, you’re doing great. If your online sales are below the 13% threshold, don’t beat yourself up. There are some basic steps you can take to increase that number. Of course, as you already know, the main reasons you want your restaurant’s online ordering to be as strong as possible are the clear benefits – larger average orders, increased frequency and loyalty, and better customer convenience and satisfaction.

The good news is the most basic ways of growing your online business require little effort and money, just persistence and steady effort:

Start with your branded online ordering system. Too many restaurants rely on portals for their online ordering. Stay away from that trap. It’s ok to be listed on a portal, but don’t send customers to those sites to place orders. Your customers prefer to order directly from you and no restaurant wants to give up as much as 20% of their business. A branded online ordering system, like NetWaiter, will better serve your customers and help you save a tremendous amount of money.

Provide visibility on your website. A link to your online ordering site should be clearly visible at the top of your home page, on your menu, and anyplace else you can put it. Access to placing an order should always be easy.

Spread your message everywhere. Think of all the places you can spread the word about your online ordering – social media, emails, in-store signage, messages on receipts, flyers, takeout bags, etc. You should even include it in your ‘hold message’ if phone-in customers are put on hold when calling your restaurant.  Don’t forget to use tools like NetWaiters Broadcast Hub that simultaneously post to all of your social pages, your NetWaiter site, and the NetWaiter Network.

When online ordering surpasses offline takeout ordering, you want to be there and reaping the profits.

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