Selling Online

9 things to look for in an online ordering platform

By Enas El Masry
9 things to look for when choosing an online ordering platform

Let's establish something as a rule of thumb. There are plenty of solutions out there to help restaurants succeed. But, are they all suitable for your business? Heck, no!

A solution is only successful if it answers your business needs. As your business evolves, its requirements may change. Then you may have to go window shopping for more advanced solutions. 

There are, however, service providers who design their offerings in a way that serves your business at its different stages. To them, we say, "kudos!"

That said, let's go over the considerations that will help you choose the best-suited online ordering system for your restaurant.

1. Flexible integrations 

Imagine walking into a restaurant to buy a sandwich to-go. You already have your mindset on the Philly cheesesteak panini. So the whole process shouldn't take more than five minutes. 

To your surprise and dismay, the restaurant staff notifies you that the cashier is right outside the restaurant. You must take a short trip outside to pay, then return with the receipt to collect your panini. The extra two minutes aren't a big deal, but they're weird and unnecessary. By now, you're not as excited to bite into your sandwich as you were when you walked in. 

Meanwhile, an enraged customer storms in with another strange complaint. Apparently, a phone operator asked her to make a separate call to the delivery company to arrange to have her meal delivered home.

We both know this would never happen at a brick-and-mortar restaurant. But believe me, it's as unsettling when it happens online. 

Redirecting a customer from your online ordering platform is a guaranteed buzzkill. For a smooth online purchasing experience, here's a list of integrations to consider based on your business needs:

a. POS

The point of sale is best known to customers as "checkout." POS system integrations allow you to centralize all of your revenue streams, bringing both online and offline sales to one place. Also, these integrations make it easier for you to keep track of your inventory.

b. Diverse payment options

At any point along the direct ordering process where you can offer your customers options, provide them these options without thinking twice. It creates a sense of inclusivity and proves your keenness on your customers' comfort. How your customers make the transaction is one of those points.

Cash-on-delivery (COD) and payment with cards are the most common payment methods. But based on the market you operate in, you'll find other payment solutions like Fawry in Egypt or Knet in Kuwait. So make sure you ask about the different payment integrations available in your market.

c. Delivery

You, my friend, are in luck. In the aftermath of the pandemic, delivery services have become essential to everyday purchases. This caused the delivery service industry to mature significantly. And it's time for you to reap the fruits.

It is fair to say that an online ordering platform offering a delivery service is now a given. The question now is: How satisfactory is the integrated delivery service? Do they use induction heated delivery bags? Do they offer order tracking? Do they deliver orders fast? I'm sure you have other questions in mind because there will always be a competitor who tops a shabby service provider. 

d. Social media

What was once a place solely for community building is now also a marketplace. It's great to be ready to receive your customers' direct orders anywhere online. To make sure every direct order is glitch-free, it's essential that you link your social media shop to your online ordering platform. This enables customers anywhere to place orders through social media shops.

Any orders you receive through a social media shop will be funneled through a unified online ordering system. And voila, you have smooth, streamlined operations. No clutter, no confusion.  

2. Add-on marketing tools

Some restaurateurs may think that an exquisite menu and the best ingredients alone can earn them business success. Unfortunately though, an unassisted product cannot finish the race. To win your customers' attention and trust, you must invest heavily, but wisely, in marketing. 

There is a sea of options for marketing your restaurant business. But as far as online ordering platforms go, there are a couple of integrations you may not want to overlook.

These marketing tools include vouchers, discount coupons, loyalty programs, referral programs, email marketing, and SMS marketing. Before embarking on a marketing campaign built around any of these tools, make sure you study the best ways to utilize them first.

 3. Seamless shopping experience

Online shopping is very tricky to manage. There's nothing easier than going online to place an order. But it is similarly easy to abandon the process or cart in case of minor inconveniences. The direct ordering journey begins as soon as your customer lands on your restaurant site. It continues as they scroll through the menu, add items to cart, check out, pay, and receive the delivery.

That's why you must pick an online ordering platform that runs flawlessly. Nonetheless, there will always be glitches. And here, my friend, is where a good support team should shine.

4. Customer support

Running an online ordering platform is like driving a car. You don't need to understand the delicate mechanics of the automobile industry to be a good driver. But if your car breaks down, you'll need a clever mechanic's instant rescue to get it up and running once more.

The longer a technical issue persists, the more customers and money you're likely to lose. If that's not enough to stress the importance of a speedy and clever support team, then I don't know what is.

To assess how good an online ordering platform's customer support team is, you may want to inquire about their hours of availability, speed of response and closing tickets, and the number of available languages they are comfortable communicating in.

5. Customization

Online omnipresence is very important for your success. But remember, your branding must always be consistent across all your channels. Otherwise, customers may doubt the authenticity of your brand and hesitate to place an order.

A key feature of online ordering platforms that will help you maintain your brand persona is flexible customization of presets.

6. Device-friendly interface

You never know whether your customers will visit your restaurant website from a computer, tablet, or smartphone. However they choose to visit your online ordering platform, their experience should be equally smooth and satisfactory. 

7. Subscription plan 

Before committing to an online ordering service provider, make sure you understand what you're paying for. Some service providers offer a flat subscription fee which doesn't change regardless of your revenue. Others will charge you per transaction. 

If any tools or features are essential to your business model, check if they are included in your subscription plan. If they aren't, find out how much they will cost you.

8. Data Analytics

Knowledge is power. And the more data you have about your customers, the better you can serve them. As much as raw ingredients don't make a dish on their own, raw data won't do you much good without context.

Data analytics turns abstract figures into meaningful information that you can build on. Ask the service provider to walk you through their analytics dashboard and see if it is simple to comprehend and use. Also, remember to ask if it's available on a mobile app. You'll want to stay up-to-date on the go.

9. Other features

There is no limit to how far online ordering services will keep developing. With new trends popping up every day, you will always find yourself compelled to meet your customers' unique needs. While your business needs to adopt this flexible attitude, it's indispensable to find an online ordering partner that equips you with the tools to stay flexible. 

Putting it all together...

We know you probably have a few more questions about what would work best for your business. So if you're confused and need some help sorting through the options, reach out to us via email, and we'll be happy to help you anytime.