Online ordering is a rising trend, with approximately a quarter of U.S. take out restaurants already accepting food orders on the internet. This, according to a new research study by Cornell University entitled, “The Current State of Online Food Ordering in the U.S. Restaurant Industry.” Restaurants are also setting-up ordering platforms in their Facebook pages in the hope of augmenting their online sales.
The study, conducted by Sheryl Kimes of Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, provides a fresh insight into the significance of food ordering over the internet for restaurants and their consumers. It surveyed 372 take-out restaurants of varying sizes and learned that 26.9% of the respondent’s make-use of online ordering in accepting orders from consumers, with 47% of these respondents being pizza restaurants. The study also showed that online ordering brings about only a slight increase in order size, although there had been a surprisingly significant increase in frequency.
“The boost in overall sales brought about by online ordering apparently came from an overall rise in volume and not in the customers’ average bills,” said Kimes.
Contrary to the common notion that the customers’ reasons for ordering online is speed and convenience, the study gave evidence that customers like the control that they have over their food purchase—the ability to request food wherever and whenever they want—they don’t have to wait to talk to restaurant servers in restaurant aprons—as well as being able to customize their orders. They also love the fact that they can choose the delivery method and their mode of payment.
One of the top benefits of ordering on the internet is a cutback in labor costs, since restaurant staff in quality restaurant aprons are not bound at the counter or on the phone, which also leads to higher employee productivity. Other advantages include better order volume and accuracy and a slight increase in the customers’ average bill.
In a separate but related report, restaurant operators are slowly tapping social networking as a supplementary channel for online ordering, slowly finding ways in integrating ordering platforms in their Facebook pages. The development has been brought about by the more than 750 million vigorous and dynamic users of Facebook, and the social network’s almost 7,000 restaurant brand pages in existence.
The online ordering platforms permit customers to input their food orders on a restaurant’s Facebook page rather than having to connect to the restaurant’s website. Several giant retail brands have already been using this kind of platform, like Nine West, and have already reaped the rewards of their recent marketing approach.
“The general objective is to try to convert those Facebook ‘likes’ into loyal, buying customers,” according to Stan Garber, partner and co-founder of ONOSYS, a mobile and online ordering systems provider which offers this type of solution to its clients. “Facebook ordering provides restaurants with additional opportunities for their online sales, and at the same time allow them to keep their tech-savvy, willing-to-try-anything-new fans engaged and interested.” The application also provides Facebook users yet another motivation to “like” a restaurant’s page, as ordering through Facebook makes their ordering a process a whole lot faster and more convenient. The idea is the ultimate in terms of customer convenience and brand accessibility.
The new system is presently being introduced at several restaurants across America, like Panera Bread, Papa John’s International, Jersey Mike’s, Charley’s Grilled Subs, Schlotzsky’s, Topper’s Pizza, Panda Express and Ghenghis Grill.