“Having online ordering shows our customers that we are progressing as a company and are investing in the future. It will become increasingly more valuable as time goes on.” — J O N AT H A N S C H RO E T E R , I L P R I M O P I Z Z A & W I N G S
McClellan says he paid less than $1,500 for the licensing rights to OrderCounter on all of his existing stations. “The cost was a fraction of what it would have been to replace the entire POS system,” he says. “Now I have Google Maps, online ordering and a cloud-based system that lets me access the system from anywhere.”
KNOW WHAT YOU’RE EXPECTED TO PURCHASE BEFORE YOU SIGN. Ask up-front if you’ll need to purchase terminals, software licenses or other equipment that’s required to make an online ordering service work. “The only equipment that’s needed with ChowNow is an iPad Mini, which was provided to us,” Schroeter says. “Because ChowNow does not integrate with any POS system, the iPad is used for the delivery of orders. The customer simply places his order via either our website, our app—which they created for us for free—or our Facebook page, which they set up for us. When the order is complete, it’s sent to the iPad, and we put the order through to our POS system.” If you do need a POS system, McClellan recommends a quick online search. “There are a lot of high-quality used terminals being sold online by restaurants that had to close for one reason or another,” he says. “Some of these terminals are top-of-the-line, and you can get them for pennies on the dollar. Then you just add your own software.”
INSIST ON A COMPLETION DATE. In business, time is money, so find out how long it will take from the day you sign your contract until you accept your first order. “The overall process took us about a month,” says Schroeter, who saw a return on his
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investment the first month. “We timed it so the relaunch of the website and online ordering coincided together. It was as simple as powering on the iPad and logging into the program—then you’re ready to receive online orders.” With an online ordering system built into your POS, Freida says you can be up and running in a week. In some cases, it’s as simple as inserting an “Order Now” button on your website.
MAKE SURE IT’S MOBILE-FRIENDLY. As mentioned earlier, a good portion of online orders now come in through mobile phones, and this trend will only rise. So before signing on the dotted line, make sure your online ordering provider can help you with a mobile app. At the very least, the service should be mobile-optimized. “If customers access your order page from their mobile phones and it doesn’t adapt to their screen size, they’ll give up fast,” says Krueger. Online ordering has a proven track record of increasing order amounts for both new and existing customers. “We see online ordering as an added value for our guests, even though we don’t offer delivery,” Krueger says. “Our customers still order online for carryout, and we receive between 20 and 60 orders per month. It’s not a huge sales driver for us, but it’s an added value, and we want to provide what our customers want.” But Krueger’s online orders will likely increase in the next few years. “Online ordering is set to overtake traditional telephone orders for the first time, according to new data from market research firm NPD Group,” Fiel points out. “In just five years, the number of online orders has skyrocketed, from around 403,000,000 in 2010 to 904,000,000 by May 2015.” Schroeter agrees. “Having online ordering shows our customers that we are progressing as a company and are investing in the future. It will become increasingly more valuable as time goes on.” Liz Barrett is PMQ’s editor at large and author of Pizza: A Slice of American History.