6 min read
Maybe it’s no surprise, the first thing ever ordered online was a pizza. In 1994, Pizza Hut launched PizzaNet.com as an experiment in Santa Cruz, CA to see if people would really use the Internet to order food. Functionality wise, the site was pretty basic. A customer would fill out a form that included their name, address, phone number, and what kind of pizza they wanted. An employee would call the customer to confirm and arrange payment, and just like that, they would get a pizza delivered straight to their door.
Fast forward to almost 30 years later. Today, online ordering of takeout food from quick service restaurants (QSRs) is no longer a novelty, it’s the norm. According to Bloomberg, online ordering now accounts for about 40% of total restaurant sales—$22.4+ billion in 2021—and has grown 300% faster than dine-in sales since 2014.
Online ordering, which encompasses dine-in, takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery, has become an essential technology tool for high-performing QSRs. According to the 2023 National Restaurant Association’s State of the Restaurant Industry Report:
Fifty-five percent of adults say that purchasing takeout or delivery food is essential to the way they live.
Consumers are increasingly more comfortable with—and expect to be able to use—technology to order, pay, and engage with restaurants.
“Online ordering is definitely a key priority for many of our QSR clients,” says Stephen Lexby, marketing manager at 45/RPM. “For some, it’s about getting started—what system to go with, getting menus online, etc. For others, such as Nando’s, it’s about kicking things up a notch—creating more sophisticated solutions that support not only online ordering, but also connect with their loyalty rewards program and other features that truly enhance the customer experience.”
So what makes online ordering so great? Let’s take a closer look at five ways an online ordering platform can improve the customer experience for your QSR.
1. Convenience, convenience, convenience. Simply put, a well-designed, user-friendly online ordering platform can make it easier and more convenient for your customers to place an order at your QSR. There are no lines to stand in, no phone calls to make. Customers can take as little—or as much—time as they need to review the menu and place their orders. They can order what they want, when they want, from wherever they want—all in a matter of clicks. Restaurants that offer online ordering report 32 percent more orders than those that only accept orders by phone—and an average of $50 per order.
2. More accurate orders, fewer mistakes. Online ordering also helps improve the customer experience simply by streamlining the ordering process and reducing room for errors. Because a customer selects what they want and can double check before finishing their order, this greatly reduces misunderstandings and gets the order right the first time. While mistakes can never be fully eliminated, online ordering can significantly reduce the chance that they will occur.
3. Better customer data. An online ordering system provides a QSR access to customer data that can be used to create more meaningful customer experiences. With every sign-on, search and purchase, online customers offer invaluable data on their likes, dislikes and unmet desires. Who are your regulars? What do they order? When do they order? What food items are the most popular? The insights you glean can be used to help create more personalized customer experiences that drive loyalty and increase sales.
4. More meaningful customer experiences. Online ordering is not necessarily intended to replace face-to-face interactions. With fewer phone calls to field and inaccurate orders to address, it provides employees the opportunity to spend more time engaging with your guests. No matter how fancy or sophisticated our technology becomes, quality customer service will always prevail.
5. Meet guest expectations. Your guests don’t just love online ordering, most of them expect it—particularly younger audiences who have grown up in an always connected era. It is estimated that Millennials account for more than 70% of the at-home delivery business. An online ordering system enables you to connect with guests and serve them wherever they may be—online, on their phones, and in your restaurant.
All in all, it’s clear that online ordering is quickly becoming the new normal for QSR’s and is a smart way to help improve the customer experience. But when it comes to choosing a system, there are many factors to consider—ease of use, customization, pricing, what customer data it offers, how it connects with the rest of your restaurant, and more.
Let’s talk about how 45/RPM can help you connect the dots to develop an online ordering system that is designed to deliver an optimal customer experience for your guests and maximum results for your QSR.