Did you know that online ordering is the fastest-growing source of restaurant sales? Digital ordering and delivery have been growing 300% faster than dine-in traffic and trends show it’s not stopping anytime soon. 

Recent data notes that 86% of operators added online ordering during COVID and plan to keep it. There’s no denying that to stay competitive (or even open), restaurants need to have online ordering. But, the key to maximizing your online sales is making the ordering experience easy and convenient.

In this blog post, we’re going to go over different ways in which you can do this and highlight actual examples of how online ordering is helping restaurants.

Here are 6 ways in which your restaurant can leverage online sales to boost your bottom line:

1. Start With the Right System

According to Hospitality Technology, 70% of consumers prefer to order straight from a restaurant and not a third-party service. In order to get the maximum profits achievable through online ordering, you need to stop paying the high processing fees from third-party services and get an in-house online ordering system. 

Now more than ever you need to save money where you can and many third-party apps take between 15% – 30% of each online sale. It’s also good to note that the markup on a meal from a third-party app can be up to 91% more for your customers. The cost of these fees is eating into their budget and yours. 

Avoid this with an in-house online ordering system that’s going to save you money, such as CAKE. CAKE offers industry-low processing fees on all online orders. Choosing the right system is going to keep you in control of your business to maximize your profits. 

Thomas Bille, owner & chef of Belly of the Beast, shares his experience with online ordering. Here’s what he says about getting started:

 “Belly of the Beast opened in February, 5 weeks before the pandemic. Needless to say, we were hurting. We had to change our business model and start to offer to-go dining. I immediately called CAKE and asked if we could start the online ordering service and was told it would take a few days. Sent all the info in and did what was asked on our end and they were able to have it up and running the very next day!! This has helped our business by offering an easy stress-free online platform for our guests.”

2. Build a Mobile-Friendly Website

Mobile technology is the key ingredient to delivering what your customers want, convenience. Additionally, due to COVID-19, we’ve seen these expectation levels for convenience skyrocket. 

Customers want a seamless ordering experience from their mobile device. Here are some consumer stats from an MGH survey to prove this:

  • 77% of diners visit a restaurant’s website before dining in or ordering takeout.
  • 56% say mobile-friendly websites are very important.
  • 36% of diners avoid ordering from a restaurant because their website wasn’t mobile-friendly.
  • 68% of diners were discouraged from visiting a restaurant because of their website.
  • 62% of diners avoid ordering takeout/delivery for the same reason.

You must optimize your website to be mobile-friendly as mobile makes up 84% of all “near me” search on Google. Begin to think with a mobile-first mindset and you’ll begin to capture more guests online.

Courtenay Tyler, owner of Tonic shares a story with us about her website and online ordering. She says, “At Tonic, we opened in August, during the pandemic. CAKE’s online ordering system lets us offer take-out to our customers quickly, without investing in our website. It was easy to link the CAKE’s online ordering on our website. It took just a few minutes… We’ve been able to add unique sections to the online “store” that we don’t offer at the restaurant. We recently launched a program called “Tonic’s Larder” where we sell our house-made pickles and spreads in pint sizes. People can enjoy these at home and use them to add something special to their own dishes. Having the ability to just click items on and off, means not much expense goes into testing a new concept, as we restaurants all pivot to meet the needs of the community.” 

The CAKE Online Ordering system allowed Tonic to make its website accessible and more attractive to its customers when they needed it the most. It gave them the ability to offer take-out and generate more online sales quickly.

3. Optimize Your Online Menu for Upselling

Did you know that online order tabs are on average 30% larger than orders placed in-house? According to technology expert Jeff Stein, this is due to two factors. The first one is because customers get to order at their own convenience. They can take as much time as they’d like to decide what they want from your menu. Second, he notes that upselling online is automatic, rather than dependent on a server. This is why you must optimize your online menu to drive more sales. 

The key here is bringing awareness to all your offerings. Your online ordering system should have a customization section that features all your add-on items for upsells with each dish. This way your customers can choose all the extra items they’d like and increase their ticket size. 

Another way to optimize your online menu for upsells is by featuring your most popular, but also profitable, dishes at the top of your menu. Add enticing photos with each dish as well to help draw your customers more towards those items.

Managing Partner of Manna Kitchen Markus Schramm shares with us, “We like the seamless integration of our Cake POS system with the online ordering module. Menu changes and updates are done in real-time on one and the same platform. The ease of use and competent customer service availability is making this a winning solution for our in-store and online orders, and our customers have complimented us on the user-friendly system.”

4. Drive Online Traffic from Google

Many restaurant owners aren’t aware of how much online traffic comes from Google. On top of this, many don’t know how to increase their search engine ranking or what it is. That’s where Google My Business (GMB) comes into play. 

Having a complete GMB profile is key to generating online traffic and sales. Here are a few reasons why it’s important to have one:

  • Increase in local discovery
  • Awareness over your competition
  • Access to online reservations
  • Insight on customer analytics
  • Provides customer reviews for feedback

Make sure to have all your information in your profile and keep it updated regularly. Learn how to create your Business Profile for Google here. 

The trend of restaurants offering online ordering is accelerating fast. Look at the Google Trends graph for “restaurant online ordering” below for a better bigger picture. A value of 100 means the term was in peak popularity and a value of 50 means it was half as popular. 

It’s clear that the interest in restaurant online ordering is extremely prevalent. Get your GMB profile set up so you can increase your visibility and capture more guests online.

5. Put Email Marketing to Use

When it comes to marketing, email is one of the most cost-effective tools you can use. In fact, for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42. That’s a very strong return on investment to help boost your online sales. 

Here are a few ideas to send with email marketing:

  • Provide personalized promotions
  • Highlight new menu items & limited time offers
  • Tell your story and give behind the scenes content
  • Share food recipes and tips on preparation
  • Highlight featured press releases about your restaurant
  • Customer spotlights & stories
  • Follow-up customers with abandoned carts

Given that, there’s a lot of valuable opportunities you can be missing out on without using email marketing. These emails need to incentivize your customer to a specific action. They also should be engaging, bold, and compelling. Check out these restaurant email examples from Emma, an email marketing platform, here.

6. Set Up Your Online Ordering on Social Media

With #food being one of the most popular searches on Instagram, your online ordering needs to be accessible on social media. The easier you make it for your customers to order food online, the more sales you’re likely to generate. One of the best practices for driving online sales is promoting your online ordering on social media. 

Huskers Cafe in Atlanta, Georgia did a great job doing this throughout COVID. Co-owner Kelly Alexander shared with us, “A highlight we experienced with our online orders was when we launched a Buy One Give One free meals campaign for all our Essential Workers. We successfully fulfilled 100 online orders in 5 days for the good folks at Grady and Children’s Healthcare Hospital.” 

Below is their social media photo they used to promote this online ordering campaign. This example shows the power that social media has. 

When you have your ordering link accessible through social media, it’s easier for your customers to order from you. According to Modern Restaurant Management, you should be on at least these three platforms:

  1. Facebook: 49% of people use Facebook to search for restaurants.
  2. Instagram: The number one social media platform for engagement with restaurants.
  3. Twitter: Restaurants have the highest engagement on Twitter compared to other industries.

Stay top of mind and be ready to satisfy your customers’ appetite by setting up your online ordering on platforms such as these.  

The takeaway

Today, it’s more important than ever for your restaurant to offer online ordering. Take out and delivery will continue to rise in popularity and in order to stay competitive, you need to be offering online ordering. 

Looking for more ways to turn online sales into a highly profitable revenue stream? Download our Essential Guide to Getting More Online Sales below to get started.