Online ordering for restaurants is typically associated with off-premise channels, such as ordering for takeout via mobile applications or third-party food delivery platforms. While online ordering for the dine-in experience has been around for years, it has not gained large traction in the industry. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for full-service restaurants to accept orders online. Consumers remain wary of dining in at restaurants, and new social distancing regulations are difficult to navigate for an industry that has traditionally relied on face-to-face contact between guests and servers. Learn how online ordering can help your restaurant adapt to operating during the pandemic, as well as discover its additional operational benefits.

What Is Online Ordering?

Online ordering for restaurants enables guests to place their order through a website or app. In the past few years, online ordering has surged in popularity for off-premise orders such as takeout and delivery. Guests place their order through a third-party app or website such as Grubhub or Yelp. These orders show up on a tablet supplied by the third-party platform. Using this information, a staff member adds the order to the restaurant’s POS system, and the kitchen gets starting on making the food.This self-ordering and checkout system also doubles as a contactless dining solution for sit-down restaurants. By scanning a QR code at the table, guests can pull up the full menu, order, and pay for their meal on their phone. Guests do not need to interact with staff members during any step of the experience, which makes online ordering even more appealing for reopened restaurants. Everything is performed completely online at the guest’s convenience.

Benefits of Online Ordering for Restaurants

  1. Promote Social Distancing
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends restaurants to use digital menus as much as possible, while several municipalities in the US are even requiring the use of disposable or online menus. Restaurant menus typically contain multiple pages and high surface area, and are therefore not as easily disinfected as a tablet or phone screen. By utilizing an online restaurant ordering system, you are showing guests that you are abiding by public health regulations, thereby gaining their trust while also keeping staff members safe.Guests are expecting and demanding this change as well. According to Datassential’s April survey, 92% of US diners like the idea of disinfecting or disposing menus each time, while more than ⅔ require it. In fact, 65% of US diners will also accept no physical menus as a new rule. Additionally, 86% of diners will want to maintain distance from other diners, suggesting that they will want distance from staff members. Online ordering enables guests to place orders without interacting with staff members.
  2. Higher Guest Satisfaction
    Online ordering is faster and more convenient for guests. By accessing an online ordering platform via scanning a QR code, guests can place their orders on demand without waiting for a server to come to their table. Online menus also offer guests the flexibility of filtering menus by allergies and preferences. Guests can sign into their loyalty account, allowing them to easily claim rewards or view past orders. In addition, self-offering eliminates order inaccuracy, and a guest can easily review an order and its customizations before placing it.
  3. Larger Check Size
    Increase your sales by using an online ordering system for your dining room. Guests placing their own orders “tend to engage with the menu longer and spend 15% to 25% more,” according to restaurant analyst Peter Saleh. When guests are in full control and can order on demand from their table, they are likely to interact with the menu more. Guests can easily order refills or dessert on their own. Technology also never forgets to upsell additional menu times to your guests. While browsing the online menu, guests will receive tailored recommendations and item pairings. In addition, a guest who is logged in will see menu items that they are more likely to order first, increasing their likelihood of ordering more.
  4. Faster Table Turn
    Guests can order and pay when they need to without waiting for a server. They can place orders for refills and additional items on demand from their own phone. Online payments also eliminate the need for servers to make several trips between guests and the POS terminal to process each check. As a result, you can serve guests and turn tables faster, helping your business maximize profit during the pandemic downturn.An online ordering system helps you automate your waitlisting process too. Guests can add themselves to your online waitlist instead of waiting in the crowded restaurant lobby. They can also preorder and pay for their meal from the comfort of their own car. Once their table is available, guests receive an automated notification. The entirely digital process shuttles guests in and out of your restaurants more efficiently than a host who must write down names and phone numbers manually.
  5. Know Your Guests
    By using online order and pay technology, you can automatically capture the information of guests who opt in. When guests enter their email address to receive a digital receipt, include a checkbox that gives them the chance to opt into your loyalty program with a single tap. You can offer guests rewards as an incentive for joining your loyalty program, such as a discount or free appetizer for their next visit. Did a guest enjoy a particular dish or have a special occasion coming up? Entice them to return by sending them a personalized offer or message. During their next visit, guests can log in, be greeted by name, and easily reorder a past favorite with a single tap. Guests will love the feeling of being recognized in a safe, contactless dining environment.

How to Get Started on Online Ordering

Quick adoption of online ordering will be essential for your restaurant to meet guest demands. Off-premise order volume is not enough to help you meet your usual sales and third-party platforms often charge high fees that are unsustainable during these difficult times. To help restaurants, Presto has launched a Contactless Dining Kit. Using the kit, guests can be waitlisted, view the complete menu, place orders, and pay at the table—without the need for any human contact. The kit can be set up in less than an hour. Complete the form to get more information on the kit and reopen your restaurant within a few days.