Convenience is the name of the game, and what could be easier than ordering food via a mobile phone? Online ordering has become a way of life for most smartphone users, whether the customer opts to receive deliveries, click and collect, or dines in while skipping the lines.
The latest statistics clearly indicate just how online ordering systems are gaining steam. BI Intelligence states that by 2020, 10.7% of all sales at quick-serve restaurants will come from online ordering , with McKinsey predicting the food ordering market to reach a value of $83 billion by then .
Online ordering represents a lucrative revenue opportunity for restaurants around the US and one that will only grow in the coming years. Deloitte states that customers spend 20% more per visit when they order through the technology – a solution it believes will form part of “the restaurant of the future.” 
Put simply, as a savvy restaurant owner, you really can’t afford to ignore the impact of online ordering options.
Which online ordering system is best for your business?
There is a range of online ordering systems on today’s market, each one offering something a little bit different.
Let’s take a look at the available options and discuss the pros and cons of each:
1. Restaurant Aggregators
Aggregators provide access to a large number of restaurants through a single online portal . This format has proven to be extremely successful in the US, UK and other countries, where millions of people are ordering food online.
UberEats and Just Eat are two examples of aggregators that have expanded their services globally. On a national scale, two or three competitors usually dominate a field based on their reach, so you won’t struggle to find a good solution.
Through the tools themselves, customers are able to compare menus, prices, and reviews from peers. The aggregators collect a fixed margin of the order from the restaurant.
A big downside to the aggregator model is that all of your competitors could be on there, meaning people can see what they offer as well.
You must also factor in a lack of analytics and customer insights, as aggregators are not integrated with your point of sale (POS) technology. This connection is used by restaurants to gain an overview of customer behavior and create data for marketing purposes.
Pros: Your restaurant is exposed to a huge audience of people that want to order food
Cons: Your restaurant is one among many, you are charged costly fees, and you have no analytics via integration with the point of sale (POS) device.
2. Online Ordering Systems
An alternative to the aggregator is the online ordering system. This allows the business to do things like process food orders and collect basic analytics on customer behavior.
Although there are a few different features available on each platform, a big part of the technology is the supporting of pre-orders. Customers can use an app or a website to choose their food, ahead of going to a restaurant, and save themselves some time in the process.
The online ordering system does have a few cons. Businesses should be aware of its basic capabilities in analytics, which can prevent an easy examination of the data they collect. Online ordering systems can also struggle with things like loyalty program integration and the additional features that create a comprehensive solution.
Pros: Your restaurant is exposed to a good audience online and you can use data to understand your customers.
Cons: Each system only offers very basic loyalty programs and restaurant data analytics.
3. Customer Engagement Solution
Another option is to go with a comprehensive customer engagement tool that includes POS integrations, which facilitates online ordering, the collection of insights about customer behavior, and more.
Solutions like Como Sense work on the basis of fixed-rate fees as opposed to the per-order ones attached to aggregators. Your customers’ information is stored in the POS every time they buy and this data is ready to be fully owned and controlled by your business. From there, the information can be used for a range of ways to boost restaurant sales, all with a view to driving the business forward.
For many, restaurant data analytics helps inform their marketing strategy in terms of who receives what offer and how it is personalized. It’s in these areas where the customer engagement solution really speeds ahead of the opposition.
These types of systems also enable a restaurant to create unique customer omnichannel experiences, via apps, websites or in the restaurant itself. Through customer omnichannel engagement solutions, a restaurant can offer their customers a unified, highly personal experience at each touchpoint.
A point worth considering is the time it takes to ensure something like this is properly set-up within your business. Still, given the added benefits it brings, this might prove to be a great investment.
Pros: Create a consistent personal experience at every channel, offer message personalization, cut costs by eliminating per-order fees, good integration with loyalty programs, and strong analytical capabilities.
Cons: Can take longer to get set up versus the aggregator method
Reaching the Potential of Online Ordering
Online ordering is ready to add value to your restaurant in many ways. One area where restaurants can struggle with their adoption of the concept is in the setup phase. Here, the technology’s interaction with other pieces of technology can represent a barrier for restaurants who are after an all-encompassing solution.
An easy way around this is to facilitate online ordering via an end-to-end platform like Como Sense. This enables you to create personalized campaigns on multiple touch points while saving time on things like data segmentation and analysis. You can even drive goals around areas like customer loyalty by using information collected via the POS to create personalized campaigns at multiple touch points.
As you can see, online ordering systems can be facilitated in a few different ways. The key to achieving even more with the function is to integrate it with other areas of your business, having it work in a way that leaves the customer happy, satisfied, and ready to return.
Are you ready to implement and online ordering system to your boost restaurants sales and streamline operations?Request a demo with a Como expert to get started.
Liran heads Como’s Product and R&D divisions, responsible for developing the product strategy and roadmap, and overseeing all aspects of research, development, business intelligence, and innovation.