Best Practices For Building a Restaurant Website

online pizza restaurant website logoMany website designers shy away from building serious restaurant websites!  They may do a simple website with an online menu, not much more.  In today’s Internet to make a successful restaurant website, the website must be fully integrated with social media outlets like Yelp, Foursquare, Grub Hub and many more.

To be truly productive today’s restaurant websites must facilitate online ordering.  Newcomers to online restaurant ordering may say the cost is too high. The reality is that when labor is factored in online ordering actually saves the restaurant, all the cost of labor involved in taking and charging each order.  Once setup online ordering is labor free! Simply receive the order by fax, email or through your POS and deliver it.  You'll likely realize higher sales at a lower cost.

There are other factors that serve to reduce the overall cost, eliminate and actually move your online ordering profitability into the black. Online orders are consistently higher than in store orders. You can promote specials directly through your online ordering system, even specials only offered to online orders. With your social media integrated website you'll be able to keep customers returning time and time again. Simply post a special on any of your social media channels and provide a link to your online ordering menu and presto, you've got sales. Repeat sales!

carryout restaurant foodSome features of your online ordering system will really make life easier for your busy customers. Part of the reason you don’t see all of your customers more frequently over the lunch hour is time. It’s your busiest hour(s) of mid day, typically you've a line of hungry folks waiting to order, most of which only have an hour or less including to/from travel time form their place of business. With online ordering, no more waiting in line to order their dine in or carryout orders.  Just arrive and pick up or dine in! Their order was already completed, billed and made before their arrival. Keep your dining room full and carryout flowing.

bagel shop catering platterFor customers who take orders for their office staff, your online ordering system will save them from having to run around the office taking individual orders. No collecting money and giving change either. All they have to do is visit your websites online ordering system and request a group order. Customers can even chat online with their group and share their favorite food choices all while placing their orders using your online menu. Group orders can be billed all to one account or split with each individual paying just for their order and even include tips! How much with this increase your carryout business, your lunch time catering orders?

Even tech resistant Chipotle uses online ordering

Restaurant owners are experienced with the restaurant business.  Putting together great menus, creating an appropriate atmosphere in their store, working with the restaurant staff and putting smiles on their customers faces.  However when it comes to deciding what to do about their website they’re extremely susceptible to being taken advantage of by the many internet marketing companies that are solely interested in closing the sale and billing their project. Most have little interest in putting together a project that will maximize the restaurateurs’ return on investment for years to come. 

steaming best hamburgersHere at 1 Sky Media we've done the research for you.  We can recommend what the best solutions are and we can guide you into a website that will produce for you for years and years to come.
Online ordering for restaurants, should you build and host your own system or use one of the many online ordering services?

Have your own website and just integrate the order portion for a few important reasons:
  1. The independence to establish your web presence and not be married to the online provider. With your own website you can easily change from one supplier to another for any reason, without disrupting your visitor’s impression of your website (they'll  come to know your website just as your regulars know you).
  2. Your website will establish a presence on Google, Bing… and if you dramatically change it (E.g. change to a different online ordering company with a different site) it disrupts the search engines trust in your domain name and website, which can dramatically reduce your referral traffic from the search engines.
  3. No matter the system you choose you will have an investment in time getting it just the way you want. Having your own site, you own your face to the public and can refine it to be exactly as you want.

You'll have your own website but what about the online ordering functionality?  Do you build your own or subscribe to a service?

Pros and cons of building your own online restaurant ordering system:
  • Higher startup costs to purchase license, install, customize and setup online software.
  • Software may not have all of the features you need  today or will want tomorrow. Each time you need to upgrade you will bear the total cost in dollars and labor to transition to a new release.
  • Equal time to input your menu.
  • Still have to ongoing costs of the credit cards gateway and merchant account.
  • High cost to try.
  • Catastrophic if it doesn't work the way you wanted.
  • You'll save ~5% on each order which depending on the size of your business may be significant.

If you just have to have your own customizable online system here are a few starting points:

There are a number of plugins for Word Press for restaurant websites and even setup online ordering if want you try to build your own system here.

Pros and cons of Integrating and existing online ordering software as a service:
  • Low or no initial setup cost.
  • Some will install your current menu, you save on the labor.
  • Service has a high interest in keeping up to date and offering the latest features and services to keep your business.
  • Service bears all costs for development and implementation of upgrades and improvements. • Low cost to try and no cost to escape.

There are many suppliers of ordering online as a service. We've investigated all of them from the oldest to the newest; the most expensive to those that are dirt cheap. What we found is:

  • Some only work with a complete chain of restaurants so this rules out the largest part of the market, small independents.
  • Some are only available if integrated with their portal for online ordering which may also feature all of your local competition and potential cost you some sales as diners shop. An example of an online ordering portal is GrubHub.com. In some cases portals can be advantageous for example, if your restaurant is new and doesn't already have good market penetration.
  • Others will allow you to participate or opt out of their online portal.

Olo.com works with chains of thirty restaurants or more.

OnoSys.com works only with chains.

Micros.com built Friendly's online ordering system. 

Grubhub.com primarily a food portal, they include online ordering.

Of all we looked at Zuppler Works appears to be the most modern design, feature rich functionality, ease of integration and color matching with your website, they also offer competitive pricing Zuppler Works.

We're available to make your restaurants website the best it can be be so give us a call 717-569-2484.

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