The last time it was measured, the size of the takeout market in the U.S. was a whopping $70 billion.  The share of the online ordering market was measured at $9 billion.

That’s only 13% market penetration. In the words of Techcrunch.com, “… in a world where almost everything is done either on the computer or through mobile apps, approximately 9 out of 10 individuals [in the U.S.] are still using the traditional method of picking up the phone to call in takeout or delivery orders.”

What’s the takeaway here?  One insight is that, although the online ordering market is already huge, it still has A LOT of growing to do.

Another insight is that despite having a relatively dominant position in the online ordering market, you shouldn’t rely on portals such as GrubHub/Seamless and Eat24 to drive your online business.  First, they’re driving their business, not yours.  Second, restaurants can make substantial increases in market penetration with their own online ordering system and, in the process, save themselves the high fees extracted by portals, which can be as much as 20% of each ticket.

Here are some easy tactics to get customers to use your branded online ordering system and increase your bottom line:

  • Accessibility: Make it easy for customers to access your online ordering system from your website with a button at the top of every page. Almost 50% of the people that find a restaurant through a portal visit that restaurant’s website before ordering.  If you highlight your own online ordering site, you can capture those customers.
  • Simple Marketing: Include printed material with phone orders and portal orders. You should also print your website on all receipts and highlight online ordering.  Make sure customers know they can order directly from you.
  • Stay Engaged: Communicate with customers periodically via email. When they order directly from your site, you get access to that information. Use it to keep customers informed with what’s new and provide them promotions.
  • Keep Them Coming Back: Offer a promotion if they reorder within a week of their previous order. Get them in the habit of coming directly to you, not a portal. A 5% increase in regular customers can translate to a 25% to 125% increase to your bottom line.

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