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3 Powerful Reasons To Offer Direct Online Ordering

Online ordering through your restaurant’s website

A woman being handed a restaurant to-go box

The restaurant industry is in the midst of a constant change that is spearheaded by technology—from reservation platforms to an effective restaurant website. None, however, have been as prolific and divisive as third-party food delivery services and online ordering. Currently, 51% of consumers order through a restaurant website vs. 38% who order through an aggregate such as Grubhub.

However, it’s important to note that of the 51% of consumers who visit a restaurant’s website likely link out to a third-party platform. With transparency and recent findings, 70% of consumers, however, would rather order direct from a restaurant than through a third-party, contributing directly to the restaurant’s bottom line.

This keeps the cost down for the consumer as well as for the restaurant. What is the advantage of direct online ordering? How does this affect the guest experience—arguably the most important aspect of hospitality?

Cultural shifts in an on-demand world

There are several elements that are shaping the cultural shifts affecting restaurants today. Transparency within platforms and apps has grown. Users can receive updates on orders placed, access user-submitted ratings and reviews and communicate with support within the app. 

Another shift involves the convenience of online food ordering, delivery and takeout. With the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, people are staying at home more often. Most are willing to pay more for convenience, even additional fees for faster delivery times.

A group of people eating pizza together at home.
A group of people eating pizza together at home. 

We live in a mobile-first world. 81% of consumers search for restaurants via mobile devices. Nearly half of the global web traffic comes from mobile devices. Orders placed through mobile devices is expected to be a $38 billion industry by 2020

In the age of on-demand services, it’s important for restaurants to adopt similar strategies in their own business models to cater to shifting customer needs. These are three reasons why offering online ordering for takeout directly through your restaurant website will help you meet those needs.

A graphic explaining the 3 reasons to offer direct online ordering.
  1. Say Goodbye to Commission Fees

    The average restaurant operates on 3-5% profit margins after rent, food and labor costs. Increasing sales is the name of the game when it comes to ensuring that your restaurant turns a profit. One way to do this is to be accessible for guests online as well as in the brick & mortar.

    Whether it’s the weather or just for the convenience, having an online ordering platform on your website allows first-time and repeat guests to have quick access to what you offer, increasing sales and ensuring you’re busy even if the restaurant is having a quiet service. What’s even more beneficial is that the entry point for offering these capabilities is relatively low compared to partnering with third-party delivery platforms who charged 20+% per order placed. 

    The Reality
    GrubHub, DoorDash and UberEats operate on a commission fee model that ranges from the baseline service of 10-15% and tops out at 30-35% for online marketplace advertising per order. 

    The Fix
    If your restaurant receives a high amount of pickup orders, and you want to streamline online ordering, you can offer an option for guests to order directly on their website for pickup, at a reasonable cost to your business. This increases sales during slow periods and provides access to your offerings beyond the brick & mortar experience.

  2. Control The Guest Experience

    Barista serving coffee and food in to-go bags.

    A restaurant worker serves to-go food and drinks. 

     One key aspect to creating the best guest experience possible is by managing every touchpoint of their journey with your business. This starts with your online presence, making sure that the menus across various platforms are up to date, and that the guest experience is translated on your website and social media.

    At the brick & mortar level, service and food quality come together harmoniously to create a repeat customer. After all, acquiring new customers is notoriously expensive, so it’s important to retain their loyalty and keep them coming back. By offering direct online ordering through the website, you can control every touchpoint with your guests.

    The Reality
    There is no control with a third-party delivery platform. The guest experience and the touchpoints involved cannot be managed, resulting in potentially unsatisfied customers, refunds, bad reviews and customer loss.

    The Fix
    By offering an online ordering platform that guests can use to quickly and efficiently order for pickup, restaurants can control the guest experience at every touchpoint and avoid putting their reputation in a third-party’s hands.

  3. Own Your Customers' Data

    Data is a powerful tool for restaurant owners in the modern world. Owning key information such as past order history, frequency and email addresses makes it beneficial for targeted marketing campaigns. Over periods in the year when restaurants tend to slow down, marketing initiatives help drive business. These campaigns can prove powerful.

    Unfortunately, third-party platforms that aren’t aligned with your business typically deprive you of this essential data. Even further, these companies use this data to retarget consumers to reorder through their third-party platform, reaping the benefits while charging transactional fees in the process, lowering your potential for profit.

    The Reality
    Third-party platforms can own important data about your consumers and target them to reorder through their platforms instead of directly with you.

    The Fix
    By controlling an online ordering platform directly from the website, you own your customers' data. Create powerful email marketing campaigns to target consumers based on that data. For example, if your restaurant sees a spike in orders during popular sporting events, send out emails to your customer base and highlight menu items that are frequently ordered during that time.

As restaurants continue to adopt technologies into their brick & mortars, they will increasingly need to evaluate the many benefits and challenges that come with them. As online ordering/delivery adoption is growing amongst consumers—60% of U.S. consumers order delivery or takeout once a week—it’s important to set up the services that are right for your business.

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