Believe it or not, those of us here at Cuboh know a thing or two about online ordering. You could say that it’s kind of our whole thing! Not everyone has the same experience with online ordering systems for restaurants. So, we figured it was time we lent a helping hand and offered a flawless restaurant online ordering system.
Let’s not waste any time and just… dive right in, shall we?
Online Ordering For Restaurants: The Basics
We’ll start with the super simple stuff, as this can be overwhelming if you try to jump right into the thick of things. Things like a high-quality menu (with pictures), smooth customer experience, and built-in loyalty programs seem hard to get up and going at first, but I promise - it’s easier than you think.
So first off, let’s start with something you hopefully already have - a menu.
Your menu is the heart and soul of your restaurant. Without it, you’re just a building where a bunch of people gather to… drink, I guess? While that would typically be a bar, what do you call it if they don’t have a menu? Without a menu, customers don’t know what they’re signing up for, and if you’re trying to get them to spend their hard-earned money in your joint, that simply won’t do.
So - what should you do to create a top-notch menu?
Join me in a thought experiment for a moment. You’re getting ready to grab dinner with your partner on a sunny Friday evening. You’re both hungry, but you can’t decide between three spots to snack - the pizza shop, sushi restaurant, or your joint (let’s say it’s a burger spot).
When you and your partner begin trying to figure out where you’ll be eating tonight, what do you do? Will you go to each spot, check their menus on Google, or just roll a dice and let fate decide?
That’s right! Most people begin their night out by checking menus - it helps us know what to expect and plan for our meal. A poorly designed menu makes it far harder to do that. If the sushi spot has nice pictures of each item and you don’t, for example, you’ll be at a disadvantage.
Significant Menu Bits & Bobs:
And that brings us to the crux of the issue - what makes a menu “good?” There are a few standard guidelines to keep in mind when building your menu:
Have professional photos taken of your food.
- This is especially important for your best-sellers. Highlight them as much as possible, and be willing to pay a food photographer. There’s nothing more offputting than a blurry photo of what may or may not be a burger you obviously took on an iPhone 4.
Bestsellers go up top.
- In print and web design, there’s a basic rule we learn very quickly - (English-speaking) humans read from left to right, starting at the top. This means we all notice the top of the menu almost every time. The farther down we get on the menu, the less likely we are to pay full attention to it.
Show ratings and reviews in-app.
- This is especially important on mobile apps (we’ll get to that soon), but giving customers easy access to reviews and ratings of various meals is a great way to guide them to things you want them to buy and ensure they leave happy.
Make it easy to customize food.
- There’s nothing worse than wanting something tasty that has one small thing you dislike on it and being unable to take it off. Make it easy (and I mean effortless) to customize any part of your menu - your customers will thank you.
All in all, think about what you look for when reading menus and recreate it. You’ll find immediate changes to your business, and it really doesn’t take nearly as long as you think.
Mobile is King
This is one of those things that many restaurateurs forget, but it’s a truth of the age we’re in. Everyone has a phone, but not everyone has a computer. As such, you must focus on mobile ordering.
There’s not much more to say here other than to remember that having a seamless mobile ordering experience will do wonders for your online ordering revenue. If you’re still stuck with a WordPress webpage and no app, it’s time to bite the bullet and look into getting yourself an online ordering system for restaurants - trust me; it’ll make a huge difference. And as a nice little bonus, it’ll take some work off your already chock-full plate.
Checkout Upsells Exist for a Reason
You and I both know that most big delivery services (third-party or otherwise) have gotten the online ordering system down pat. One of the most common things to experience when ordering online is what we call a “checkout upsell.”
These little pop ups occur right before you finalize your order, asking if you want garlic bread, a soda, or some dessert. They serve an essential purpose - highlighting high-margin items to increase your average ticket total.
Setting up something that recommends additional appetizers, drinks, and desserts serves a few purposes:
It highlights items you may not sell as often.
- Set up a checkout upsell for those items if you have appetizers or desserts that go to the wayside in online orders. You’ll see their sales spike (at least somewhat) and get some of your old inventory offloaded.
It’s easy money.
- We all know that things like french fries, garlic bread, and onion rings each have extremely high returns. They cost pennies on the dollar to make, and you can sell them for much higher profit margins than something like a steak. Highlighting them during checkout makes people think “well yeah, I could go for some garlic bread.”
It reframes the customer’s cost.
- You can reframe how customers look at their bill with the proper phrasing. Rather than seeing that they’re spending $50+ on food, they can pay only $8 more to get something else they’d like. That’s right - writers can do more than type up blogs like this. We can also help you sell stuff with well-made copy.
Analytics & Data
Do you enjoy making money? If so, it’s time to look at your restaurant’s data and analytics. I know it’s a pain - but tracking who sells what, when, and why is one of the best ways to find essential ordering patterns upon which you can capitalize.
Many people don’t know that third-party delivery services like GrubHub or UberEats don’t expect to continue charging their massive (25-30%) commissions. Their primary source of income is data. They track every single bit of information that goes through their platform and use it to plan.
They’ve even recently been going commission-free, opting instead to focus on driver and card processing fees.
There are two main ways to track your restaurant’s data and metrics:
- The link above will bring you to Google’s courses instructing how to track your business analytics. It’ll take time, but if you’re independent and want to do it yourself, this is your best option - and it’s free!
- Okay - we do this, so I have to mention it. But it’s worth noting that Cuboh isn’t the only online ordering system out there. We just think it’s the best online ordering system for restaurants. We offer loads of means to track metrics, find patterns in ordering, and streamline your online presence for a very reasonable fee.
At the end of the day, tracking who buys what, when, and why is one of the best ways to understand how your business works. Seeing patterns in ordering on specific days or at certain times can help you plan schedules and inventory, and spotting items that don’t sell as well can help you pare down your menu a touch.
In short, understand why your restaurant performs how it does, and you’ll be able to make more informed, more accurate decisions.
The Customer (Experience) is King
When you step into any business, the first thing that tells you how your night will go is how you interact with the staff. When ordering online, the first interaction you have with a restaurant is with its website. Just as you would put your best host(ess) out on a busy night, you want to have your best foot forward with a seamless website and online ordering system.
Remember how we talked about the importance of analytics? This is where those come in handy - take a peek! Below you’ll see a few pieces of data about customers ordering online from Small Biz Genius:
- Customers don’t like having a bad experience when ordering online. Poor design leads to 88% of customers not returning to any given website - including yours.
- 70% of online businesses fail due to a poorly-designed website.
- Only 55% of online businesses perform any type of User Experience (UX) testing.
- 75% of users judge a business based exclusively on the aesthetics of its site.
- 53% of mobile users will simply leave a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
- 48% of mobile users are aggravated by poor web optimization.
As you can tell, most users focus on two things - looks and performance. This is the type of thing you can monitor and tweak as needed with the best online ordering system for restaurants (big shocker - it’s Cuboh).
Web page loading speeds, optimization, and good design are effortless to adjust through Cuboh’s intuitive software and services, and we offer loads of support to keep your life easy.
Gift Cards Matter
Think back for a second - in your life, how much money have you gotten in gift cards? Hundreds? Thousands?
You’re not alone if that number is higher than you initially thought. In fact, Americans spend $200 billion (yes, with a B) per year on gift cards. And if that’s not enough, it’s estimated that America has roughly $15 billion in unused gift card funds just sitting around, gathering dust.
So why should you, a successful restaurant owner, care? Well - that’s a lot of money just sitting around. And the best part? The funds sitting around gathering dust have already gone to the business in question.
This makes two things utterly vital to bumping up your online ordering revenue:
1. Ensure customers can easily purchase gift cards online.
And we loop back around to the importance of web design. The easier it is to buy gift cards, the more likely you are to sell them.
2. Be positive that all gift cards work effortlessly, both in-person and online.
Not all card processing is created equally, and some of the free online ordering systems for restaurants will make this clear very quickly. A paid online ordering system like Cuboh ensures card processing is effortless and near-instant, regardless of whether or not you’re processing a gift, credit, or debit card. Free online ordering systems for restaurants are often very limited in what they can process, when, and how (i.e., online vs. physical, Mastercard vs. Visa, etc.).
Just to reiterate the second point, think about what would happen if you gave a friend a gift card that they were then unable to use. Not only would you be perturbed, but your friend would be, too. Suddenly you go from what should have been a pleasant meal to having two upset customers and (more likely than not) a pretty bad review online.
Ensure Your Staff Likes Online Orders and Promote Tips
Let me tell you a story really quickly. I was once a young line cook making a decent wage with excellent tips in my local pizza joint. And then came GrubHub - suddenly, the orders that came through with massive tips for me were ordered through third-party delivery. And who got those tips? That’s right - the driver, not the restaurant’s employees.
When we started taking third-party orders, the business did very well and began to see significant revenue increases. But the employees started to lose between $750-1,000 a month just in tips. So what happened? People started to quit, angered by the sudden drop in pay, and the shop owner had to raise our hourly rate by ~$2.50 (minimum, often more) an hour for roughly fifty people to retain those that didn’t leave.
While this isn’t always the case, it’s common for restaurant owners to love third-party delivery, while the tipped staff despise those services with all their might. But you can get around this with a straightforward action - make it easy to tip your staff when ordering online.
Highlight the tip section on your cart page, add it as its own checkout process step, and encourage percentages (i.e., 15%, 20%, or 25%) rather than flat tips of $1-3. You’ll soon see three things happen:
- Employees make online orders with more care when tipped, as they’re being compensated for it.
- Customers get faster and better service from happier employees.
- Employee retention will be easier if they’re making more money.
At the end of the day, the most essential part of your business is not the webpage, the menu, or the aesthetics - it’s the people who do the work. So reward them appropriately, be on their side when it comes to tips, and you’ll see happier customers and employees. It’s a win-win!
Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews
This ties back to analytics and data, once again, and to proper web page/menu design. Reviews are the lifeblood of restaurants - the more positive reviews you have on Google, the more new customers you get, simple as that.
So sure, you can rely on excellent service to encourage happy customers to leave a review - but there’s a better way.
Offer an easy, fast means for customers to leave a review. You can do this in one of a few ways:
1. Leave a “review me” button on the checkout screen.
This gets reviews into the customer’s mind, but they likely won’t leave a review until after eating. And that brings us to number two.
2. Send a follow-up email or text asking politely for a review upon confirmation of the delivery/pickup.
Just give a nudge here - something along the lines of “by now, you’re chowing down on some tasty grub - if you love it, leave us a review! It helps us more than you know.”
This makes the customer think that it’s their idea and that they’re helping you - both of which encourage them to write a review.
3. Offer rewards for reviews.
We’ll talk about this in just a second, so hop on down to the next section.
You may be wondering if this can lead to more negative reviews. Surprisingly, not really! Google displays the most relevant reviews to a search, so unless the customer actively looks for bad ones, they won’t even see them.
People will post negative reviews regardless of if you ask for them - ultimately, people love to share negativity. Encouraging them to share positivity is a bit harder but achievable with the above processes.
Finally, we make it to something many business owners have caught onto over the years - humans love to be rewarded. Whether through a punch card, coupon, or rewards/point program, loyalty programs are psychologically proven to be effective.
This is because rewards provide dopamine - the chemical in your brain that makes you feel happy and, coincidentally, the one your body uses to reward you for things it deems “good.”
While this seems like a great idea on its own, there’s more to the picture. You need to be strategic with discounts and rewards - after all, you’re a business, not a charity. This is (once again) where analytics and data come into play. Tracking individual information allows you to tailor deals and rewards to specific customers.
More importantly, it allows you to avoid running generalized “BOGO” deals and market your brand with specific sales. Maybe you’re trying to build a name as the local stop for after-work drinks, or you want to become the household name in burgers. Use that! Offer specific deals on whatever you want people to identify with your brand.
From there, you can move into advertisements and marketing if you’d like, but the best place to start is with your restaurant's online ordering system. Give small discounts for reviews, offer loyalty rewards for regulars, and even provide a one-time coupon for first-time visitors. This will build word-of-mouth, make people associate you with dopamine subconsciously, and actively buy menu items to get rewarded rather than because they want that specific thing.
The most important thing to do here is track who uses which deals through your restaurant's online ordering system. This will help you narrow your marketing to find the most effective options, rather than throwing it all at the wall and seeing what sticks.
The Final Touch
Ultimately, this all means nothing if you can’t execute it properly. There’s no shame in not knowing how to track specific analytics, design a webpage from scratch, or having an eye for excellent food photography. There are countless professionals out there that can help you, and finding a quality support network will make this process dramatically easier.
The best online ordering systems for restaurants will provide personalized support - and Cuboh is precisely that: the best.
Altogether, if you’re trying to get your business out of the late nineties and into the 21st century, you need Cuboh. We can streamline your business, consolidate your ordering systems, and help build a top-tier website that will grow your revenue and help gain traction with new and returning customers.