Moving a Restaurant Online

If your customers can’t visit your restaurant for a meal, then selling online gives you the option to let your customers pick up their meals from your restaurant through online ordering.

You can also provide take-out, catering and delivery services to customers who live outside of your restaurant’s walkable radius. Selling your food and drink items for online orders is one way you can expand the reach of your business to customers that you might not otherwise be able to reach.

Why Set Up an Online Ordering System?

Setting up an online ordering service for a restaurant is relatively simple, but will require some decisions on what approach is best for you. The requirements for selling items online will vary by your location and the type of food you serve. The first thing you need to do is choose a service provider to manage your online order system. You will get a lot of offers from companies that claim they can set up and operate a fully automated online ordering system for your restaurant. Their systems are usually fairly expensive, but can provide a professional way for customers to place orders through the web or an app on their smart phones.

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Some restaurants that serve food that doesn’t require any preparation, like pizza, can use on of the many online ordering application providers to get started quickly. These applications don’t require as much customization as larger restaurants might need and are usually less expensive. For restaurants that do not take credit cards, you can also get a hosted phone system to accept phone orders from your customers. To integrate these phone orders into your website, you can use a third party app or some programming in your existing website template.

What Can You Sell in Your Online Restaurant?

If you want to sell beer and wine, you will need to determine whether or not to sell these items online. If your location allows people to bring their own drinks into your restaurant, it may be easiest for your customers to buy these items when they come in. Some restaurants have set up a separate bar or cash-only area where customers can buy wine and beer that is also available for take-out orders.

Online food ordering is a great way to allow customers to place take-out orders for pickup or delivery. Once you have your ordering application set up, you can also provide menus and descriptions for each item on the restaurant's menu. You can organize the menu by item type, category, or price. You can also let customers search through the menu for items using keywords and filters like gluten-free, vegetarian, or spicy.

Use Compelling Photos

Using photos of the food will help your customers see what they are buying online. Some restaurants supply photos of food they serve in order to help customers who have allergies or dietary restrictions. Some restaurants also use photos to help attract new customers. Customers appreciate seeing what the dish or drink looks like, and having the ability to make online orders from their computer or phone makes it easy for them to see exactly what they are ordering.

Sell What Makes Money

While you can still make money selling traditional items like bottled water and coffee on your website, you want to concentrate more on sales that will generate revenue through online ordering. Selling sides and extras for your meals can be a good option because the extra items are often sold in smaller quantities. Selling food items that don’t require preparation, like sandwiches or wraps, is another good option. They are easy to make in advance and you can sell them at a higher price than items that need to be prepared.

Online Ordering Can Increase Your Revenue

Online ordering systems can help you increase the number of customers who order through your website or app. You can use email marketing to remind customers that your business is online, and you can also provide them with special deals. Online ordering systems also simplify the process of taking orders and processing payments, so there are fewer potential points of failure you need to worry about.

Do I Need Professional Help?

If you are interested in selling alcohol, it is a good idea to have a professional handle the sales for you. You don’t have to be a legal expert or an expert when it comes to alcohol sales, but you will still need someone who can answer questions quickly and make changes to your inventory if needed.

Some restaurants choose not to sell alcohol at all. Selling items like water, coffee and sides is often enough for some restaurants. Having a professional handle the liquor sales can help you increase the number of people who order alcohol through one of your online ordering options.

Offer a Loyalty Program

Offering a loyalty program is another way you can entice customers to purchase your online sales. Your customers can choose from different levels that they want to achieve in order to reward different types of purchases they make at your restaurant. You might offer points to people who visit your restaurant on their birthday or for other special occasions such as a wedding anniversary. You can also try adding special promotions around holidays, like Valentine’s Day, Mother's Day, or Christmas.

Should You Off Takeout Ordering?

If you are a restaurant that serves food that requires more preparation than most, you may want to consider selling take-out and delivery options. Some restaurants sell only online orders for take-out and delivery because people who want to pick up their meal sitting down don’t make as many online purchases. It can be more cost effective for restaurants that don’t allow customers to bring their own alcohol or food in off premise to offer this service instead of selling it on their website. Some restaurants that do allow customers to bring their own food and drink also provide a separate service that allows them to buy these items through the restaurant website.

Increase Sales with Alcohol Sales

Selling alcohol can be a great way to increase your online sales. If you don’t sell alcohol already, it may be a good idea for you to get some help from an expert who can help you choose which kinds of spirits will sell well in your area. Some restaurants sell different kinds of wine, beer, and other types of alcohol. Some sell only certain items like bottles of wine or specialty beers. You may want to offer both types of alcohol in your online orders so customers can purchase the type they prefer.

If you sell alcohol online, it is a good idea to offer information about what kinds of beverages you serve as part of your menu. You can detail what ingredients are in each liquor if your customers have allergies or dietary restrictions that might prevent them from enjoying the items on sale. This will also help you improve your online sales by keeping people updated about what is new at your restaurant.

Automate Order Processing

Handling your restaurant’s online orders can be time consuming. A convenient order management dashboard would be great. MenuStripe already has this integration. You do not need to download any apps for that, it is all available in your dashboard.

Ready to create a web site for your food truck? Start your 14-day trial with MenuStripe