October 24, 2013 |

A Conversation with Jacque Farrell, Farrelli’s Wood Fire Pizza — Inside look at its new online ordering system

By Pizza Today


Jacque Farrell

We believe it has been time for a while (to offer online ordering). With the evolution of the accessibility of smart phones and technology everywhere, we needed to catch up and make it convenient for our guests to place an order with Farrelli’s. Let’s face it, it’s easier to text than call — and the same is true with placing an order with a restaurant. Guests like to have choices at their fingertips and be in control of those choices. Online ordering gives them both. Anything we can do to make it easier for our guests to choose Farrelli’s, we are ‘all in’!

(Our must-have online-ordering features included) seamless integration with our POS system; the online orders printing directly to the kitchen line printers, thereby expediting the order for guest pick up; forced payment through the online ordering site; guests being able to use their loyalty cards to earn rewards, as well as being able to pay with reward points or a gift card; and promo integrations and guests being able to enter a promo code that would reduce their order total through the online ordering site — basically anything you or I have come to expect when placing online orders of any kind.

(The most challenging aspect was) integrating with our current POS system. Researching all our options, it would have been quicker and cheaper to launch online ordering with a third party provider. This would have meant that online orders would kick back to a computer printer in the office somewhere, not on our kitchen line printers. We could not risk orders falling through the cracks on a busy night. It also meant that our guests would not be able to utilize the loyalty program we have vested years in. We needed our guests to be able to integrate their Fire Club offers as well as accrue their well-deserved points. Third-party options would also not speak directly to our in-house POS system in terms of guests being able to pay online. So, we are partnering with our current provider. An additional challenge is the visual brand elements of the online ordering Web site to mimic our farrellispizza.com site. Ease of guest use will be of the utmost importance. This means not confusing your brand with generic looking ordering Web sites.

Currently, our takeout sales represent about five percent of our sales mix on average between our six Farrelli’s units. Our goal would be to increase takeout sales to 10 percent of our sales mix. Additionally, we are not only going to be utilizing our online ordering platform for takeout business, but also for dine-in business. We are going to be encouraging our lunch patrons specifically to place their orders ahead of time on the online ordering site to expedite their dining experience. We know that many of our lunch guests have a limited window of time to dine with us… We intend on nurturing our on-line program to seamlessly bridge our brand with our guests, making it an engaging way to place your order with Farrelli’s.

Web Exclusive

On upselling in the online ordering system…
Studies have shown, as has our personal experience, that guests will tend to upsell or as we like to say, “enhance their experience,” themselves when they have more time to spend with Farrelli’s menu. We have built in a navigation process through our menu that echoes our physical menus in our stores. We will also have a variety of prompts reminding them of choices they may have forgotten or not even known exist.  For example, a prompt to remind our guest to add a gourmet salad or soup to their meal, perhaps pop up a picture of our appetizer special for the month. Then, toward the end of their order, a prompt will come up offering them the choice of adding a Growler of draft beer or a bottle of wine to bring home. It’s our job to remind our guests of the choices out there.

On mobile responsive online ordering…
I think our guests are extremely tech-savvy. Farrelli’s Web site itself is optimized for mobile web browsing, so it is important to us that our guests be able to access our online ordering platform via mobile devices and to easily navigate the platform from their smart phones and tablets as well. The version of the online ordering platform we will be launching in the coming weeks is not yet optimized for mobile browsing, however it will be by the end of the year. (Our provider) is currently recoding it in HTML5, which will streamline the functionality for mobile use. We didn’t want that piece to hold us up any longer on launching our site, especially considering the solution will be implemented by year’s end.

On marketing the new online ordering service…
Farrelli’s Director of Marketing Clayton Krueger explains ‘We have been BETA testing the platform with some targeted e-mail blasts to our loyalty club. We are training our service staff to be pros with the new technology so that they can be ambassadors for it to our guests. We have made social media announcements to build the hype in addition to the “coming soon” link on the Web site. As soon as it is fully functional, we will launch the site with a full-scale e-mail blast to all 35,000 of our email loyalty club members with a special offer code to encourage immediate use of the new site.  We will also have table talkers in our stores to remind guests of this feature for their next orders as well as a box top sticker on our takeout pizza boxes with the link and a discount for their next takeout order. Lastly, the Web site will be modified to make the new feature stand out prominently so that organic traffic to the site will be inclined to explore the feature on their own.’

Jacque Farrell co-founded the six-unit pizza company in 1995. Today, she serves as president of operations.