The convenience of ordering pizza online is in such high customer demand that any pizzeria without an online ordering system should question how serious it is about growing business and profits. Offering customers an online ordering system has many benefits, including:
• New customers who prefer online ordering
• Higher ticket averages and sales (our online tickets are worth 25 percent more, on average)
• Increased efficiency due to reduced need for employee order-taking
• Improved customer service because customers can take as much time as they want to place and review an order prior to submission
• Lower marketing investment due to low-cost online ad placement
• Increased ROI due to higher ticket averages, new customers and low-cost marketing
When I first implemented an online ordering system at our pizzeria, online orders grew to 2 percent of total sales just weeks after the launch—and before we sent out a single promotion. Because our online tickets are worth, on average, 25 percent more than our carryout and delivery tickets, online ordering has proven to me that it’s a powerful way to increase profits.
I’ve also learned the importance of choosing an online ordering system wisely in order to maximize profits without requiring a major time investment. The following seven tips will help you select the best online ordering system for your pizzeria.
1. Get A Third-Party Provider
While it’s possible to host an online ordering system on your own website, there are definite drawbacks. Maintenance is up to you, and if the system goes down you will have to scramble to fix it—or wait for your web designer to do so at whatever hourly rate he or she charges. Third-party providers specialize in online ordering systems and are therefore less expensive and more responsive to your needs. Moreover, they are accountable for keeping your system running.
2. Excellent Branding
Your online ordering system should allow you to brand the look of the user interface, allowing you to prominently display your logo, address, phone number, website, company colors and other brand markers. The customer experience should be seamless; patrons should not feel they are being redirected to an unknown entity to complete their orders.
3. Ease Of Use
Your online ordering system should be extremely simple for customers to use. They should be able to log in, find what they want quickly and order it in a matter of minutes. It should also be easy for you to update whenever you have special offers, coupons and price changes. The easier your online ordering system is to use the more you can work it to your advantage, and the more customers will enjoy interacting with it. And, ultimately, the more profitable it will be.
4. Selling Tools
Your online ordering system should include selling tools that will help increase your ticket averages. Suggestive selling, interactive promotions and other sales tools should be presented in an intuitive fashion to the users. For example, any customer ordering bread sticks should be prompted automatically to opt for an extra sauce, and all customers should be asked if they’d like to add soda to their orders. Consider your online ordering system to be a marketing investment that carries an expected return.
The best online ordering systems integrate with your POS to make accounting fast and easy. Yours should also integrate with your kitchen printer, which needs to be outfitted with a buzzer so workers there know when an online order comes in. If properly structured, online ordering shouldn’t add a lot of work and it can make your kitchen operations more efficient.
6. Customer Service
Before you make your online ordering solution decision, investigate a provider’s customer service. You want fast and knowledgeable support staff to assist you when you have questions and quickly correct any system malfunctions. You definitely don’t want to lose an entire night’s worth of online sales waiting for a tech to fix your system. Ask for references and follow up to see if other pizzeria owners would recommend the provider you’re considering.
Finally, pricing should play a role in your decision. As noted, your online ordering system is an investment that is expected to bring a return. The cheapest isn’t necessarily the worst, and the most expensive isn’t necessarily the best. Seek an online ordering system that satisfies the other six requirements listed here, then factor price into your decision-making process. The goal is to implement an online ordering system that will help you earn more profits in return for a fair investment.
Making the most of online orders is one of three topics Shawn Randazzo will be covering at Pizza Expo 2013. He will also present seminars on maximizing delivery business and building a winning company culture. He is co-owner of Detroit Style Pizza Co. in St. Clair Shores, Mich., and was the 2012 Pizza Maker of the Year winner at Expo’s International Pizza Challenge.
For more details on International Pizza Expo 2013, visit www.pizzaexpo.com.