Online Ordering for Restaurants: A Complete Guide | ResDiary

Online Ordering for Restaurants: A Complete Guide | ResDiary

Restaurants are always looking for new ways to innovate their service and please their customers. The digital age has presented a variety of methods customers can use to interact with hospitality venues.

One of the most significant is online ordering. In an age where everything is about convenience, online ordering is gradually becoming an expectation.

In our comprehensive guide, we'll provide everything you need to understand about online ordering for restaurants. We'll take you through the many different forms of online ordering, and the key benefits they can offer for your business.

Types of online ordering for restaurants

There are many forms of online ordering for hospitality venues to be aware of. Understanding the ins and outs of each method will enable you to reach the best outcomes for your business.

Online ordering for delivery or takeaway

One of the most significant trends in hospitality in recent years is the growth of online food ordering for delivery or takeaway. The entrance of apps like UberEats and DoorDash made it easy for restaurants to be placed in front of hundreds of local customers looking to order delivery.

The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic made online ordering a critical income stream for many restaurants. It further solidified the place of online ordering in the industry.

Now, the market for online food delivery in Australia is estimated to reach AUD$18.24 billion in 2024.

Third-party apps aren't the only way to facilitate online ordering for delivery or takeaway. Many businesses have elected to create their own in-house online ordering system. This allows them to keep all the revenue from sales to themselves.

At-table ordering

Another method restaurants have turned to in recent years is at-table online ordering. This involves having customers within your restaurant place an order while sitting at their table. It is usually accomplished with a QR code and a smartphone.

This method can be more convenient for customers who don't want to wait for a waiter to come to their table. They can simply order and make online payments in one easy process.

There are advantages for restaurants, too. This method of ordering can free up time for your staff, and even allow you to reduce shifts in your venue.

Online pre-ordering

Another way to integrate in-house dining and online ordering is through pre-ordering. This involves having customers place orders ahead of their visit to your restaurant.

This is achieved through digital menus, which customers can access via your website or over email. Many customers enjoy the pre-ordering process as it enables them to streamline their visit to your restaurant.

Knowing that their orders have already been placed and paid for means they can simply focus on having a great time dining in your venue.

Online ordering of merchandise

An often-overlooked method of online ordering for restaurants is selling merchandise and products on your restaurant's website.

This is another method of revenue-raising that gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be incredibly effective if your business has strong branding and loyal customers.

Another way to take advantage of online ordering is to merchandise your most popular foodstuffs or drinks. From homemade juices to bespoke mustards, customers will love the chance to have their favourite products from your restaurant delivered to their door.

Benefits of an online ordering system for restaurants

Setting up online ordering in a restaurant takes a bit of work. So why make the effort? Here are the key advantages of utilising an online food ordering system in your restaurant:

  • New customers: Online ordering can open up your venue to whole new bands of customers. Whether they don't like going out to eat in restaurants or just aren't in the mood that night, online ordering enables your venue to meet their preferences with ease. You can also add to your customer database by taking down their emails.
  • Accessibility: Your customers may live with anxiety disorders or conditions that affect mobility. By providing more options for customers to place orders, you become a more inclusive venue.
  • Improved operations: Online ordering can make life easier for your staff. More orders placed digitally means less time staff have to spend taking orders from customers. Online orders also mitigate the risk of miscommunication between customers and your team.
  • Alternative income streams: Without any online ordering functionality, customers will likely see your venue as purely a place for sit-down dining. Whether you start delivering your famous loaded fries to customers' doors or start selling merchandise like clothing, online ordering offers new methods to generate income.

How does online pre-ordering work?

A popular method of online ordering is pre-ordering. This is a process by which customers can place and pay for online food orders before they arrive at your venue.

Online pre-ordering involves providing a digital menu to your customers. This is usually achieved on your website, or over email.

For example, ResDiary's pre-order system allows you to send emails to your customers when they make a reservation. They can browse a digital menu, place their orders and pay in one simple process.

Alternatively, you can send out pre-orders via promotions. You could create a Valentine's Day promotion and automatically send out special menus when customers place a booking through it.

When they arrive at your venue, all they need to do is have an amazing time with other members of their party.

Benefits of online pre-ordering for restaurants

Here are some of the key reasons to consider implementing online pre-ordering in your restaurant.

Handle large bookings

One of the top applications for online pre-ordering is making the service of large bookings simpler. When each member of the party places an order ahead of their visit, it becomes easier for your venue to plan accordingly.

Multiple parts of the usual in-house dining process are removed when you take advantage of pre-ordering.

This makes it far more straightforward for your team to deal with large bookings. No longer will you be filled with dread when a party of 15 makes a booking.

Better customer experiences

Restaurant owners are on a constant mission to make customers happy. Making use of online pre-ordering systems is an excellent way to improve their experiences in your venue.

Customers can place their orders and pay for them ahead of time. This means that when they're in your venue, they're focused on enjoying themselves, while also experiencing shorter wait times.

This service can also be useful for diners who are in a hurry to be served. For instance, this might apply to corporate diners with limited lunch windows. 

Rather than stress about getting seated and served in time to eat their food and get back to work, they can enjoy a more relaxed, enjoyable experience.

Reduce staff costs

Online pre-ordering streamlines operations in your venue. The result of this is reduced staff costs.

If a large portion of your seating is taken up by a single group, you'll need to dedicate several members of staff to attend to them. However, if they have already ordered and paid, you can schedule fewer staff members to be on for that shift.

Advance knowledge of what food is ordered can also help to make operations simpler in your kitchen. You might even be able to reduce staff costs in the back of house, too.

Integrated into booking process

With solutions like ResDiary, pre-ordering can be easily integrated into the booking process. This simplifies matters for your restaurant and your customers.

You don't need to worry about setting up a separate solution for accepting pre-orders once a reservation has been placed, and customers can easily understand how the pre-order process works.

Whether you use ResDiary or any other pre-ordering solution, taking advantage of integrations with a restaurant reservation system is the perfect way to enjoy seamless implementation in your venue.

The future of online ordering for restaurants

In recent years, we've seen many fascinating online ordering trends. While we don't have a crystal ball, here are a few of our best guesses for where online ordering may be heading in the future:

  • Greater emphasis on pre-ordering: With the rise of online ordering for delivery and takeaway, customers have clearly shown their appetite for high levels of convenience. As strides are made in pre-ordering, we expect to see it become even more integrated into the dining experience.
  • AI and machine learning: The world is undergoing a technological revolution. AI in restaurants is already making a mark, and you can expect its impact on online ordering to become more pronounced. This may take the form of greater personalisation based on customer preferences,
  • Social media integrations: Social media platforms such as TikTok are having an enormous impact on hospitality. One survey showed that 53% of Millennial TikTok users have visited a restaurant and/or ordered food from it after seeing it on TikTok. It seems only logical for restaurants to integrate their online ordering process with the potential of social media as much as possible.

Serve customers faster with ResDiary pre-ordering

ResDiary's pre-orders are an effective way to improve your customer's experiences and implement smoother operations in your venue.

You can automatically send emails to customers, allowing them to fill in their pre-orders and pay ahead of time. You can also use ResDiary promotions for this process, or to enable online ordering for takeaway or delivery.

The system integrates seamlessly with ResDiary's other booking management features for a silky-smooth customer experience. This allows you to collect diner data and provide superior service.

Don’t take our word for it, listen to a satisfied ResDiary user. Kieran Inglis, owner of The Apple Shed Kitchen & Bar, used customer data collected by ResDiary to great effect:

“ResDiary allows us to record things like when people are coming, or if they prefer sparkling water or have preferences for specific wines. We can provide better customer service when we know these things.”

Book a demo today and find out how ResDiary's booking management system can elevate your venue.

Book a demo

Disclaimer: This guide is general in nature and does not take into account your individual circumstances. Before acting on any information, you should consider whether this is right for your business.