The restaurant industry is on the road to recovery. And digital ordering of food from favorite restaurants that have implemented an online ordering system is the latest way in which restaurateurs can connect and engage with customers. While 2020 was challenging for the foodservice industry, the upcoming year brings excitement and a strong opportunity for growth. According to the National Restaurant Association’s “State of the Restaurant Industry” report, consumers purchasing takeout or delivery is “essential to the way they live.” And the overwhelming majority (two-thirds) prefer to order directly from a restaurant. It is in this space where integration and technology thrive.
But how to structure an online ordering system, how to fulfill delivery of online ordering, and when to integrate third-party marketplaces have several considerations operators must make. Let’s take a closer look at three different ways an operator can structure the setup and fulfillment of an online ordering system.
Your Own Online Ordering System with Your Own In-House Delivery
Restaurants opting to use their own integrated online ordering system with an in-house delivery team see many advantages compared to exclusively using third-party delivery apps like UberEats or DoorDash for their digital sales.
These perks include the ability to:
- Owning the entire customer journey and customer data
- You’re in control of your restaurant brand experience.
- Keep all the profit from delivery meals, with no 15-30% commissions paid to a third party.
However, the tricky part is managing the delivery portion of the ordering experience, where labour shortage is an issue. Developing an in-house delivery program can come with many challenges, primarily the labour challenge stands out, as Panera found out when they implemented their own delivery program. As the company stated in National Restaurant News, “Panera continually evaluates our model to put guest preferences at the center of everything we do,” Chris Correnti, senior vice president of off-premise channels at Panera, told Nation’s Restaurant News. “This change enables Panera to offer a broader delivery range to serve increased demand for delivery, in response to an off-premise market that has grown and shifted dramatically over the past year.”
The article further states potential reasons why Panera made this change: “Although Panera did not expand further upon their reasons for giving up on in-house delivery, John Gordon, a restaurant analyst with Pacific Management Consulting Group, said that he would bet it has to do with the staffing crisis: “For Panera to abandon their vehicles and the capabilities they built in years ago, I can only think they did not want to do this and they are so short on employees that they had to,” Gordon said.
Gordon went onto also state, “I think they would put [in-house delivery] back in a heartbeat, which may be why there’s no publicity on this: they may want to resume it immediately once labor conditions resume. It’s costing them money to do this.”
Leverage Third-Party Delivery Apps for Your Digital Sales and Delivery
Operators who want to quickly enable digital sales and subsequent delivery are partnering with a third-party delivery marketplace to create a new revenue stream for their business.
The process for operators to get started is relatively easy. Operators sign up their restaurant with third-party delivery marketplaces and submit their menu to and are immediately ready to get orders from customers, increasing brand exposure on popular apps such as UberEats, SkipTheDishes and DoorDash. However, unlike your own online ordering system you build to take orders from customers on your own website, there is a price to pay when putting your menu and taking orders with delivery fulfilled by a third-party marketplace. On average, these marketplaces do charge a 10-30% commission on all your orders, so operators should take that into consideration when building out delivery with online ordering.
There are benefits to putting your menu on these popular third-party apps and having the third party fulfill delivery including:
- Reach new customers quickly who are in-market and ready to purchase today.
- Less overhead and operational costs as you already have the food ingredients, the staff, and takeout containers on hand.
- No need to hire, train, or manage drivers, as the third party is ready to deliver any orders taken via the apps.
That takes us to another way to introduce delivery with online ordering: combining your online ordering system on your own site with third-party fulfillment of delivery.
Combine Your Online Ordering System with Third-Party Fulfillment Of Delivery
Operators still can gain the benefits, control, and customization by offering online ordering on their website without having to hire drivers to fulfill the delivery. Operators can think of this arrangement of having a third-party company fulfill the delivery much like an e-commerce shop that sells goods and has a parcel carrier fulfill the delivery. In other words, they get the benefits of delivery without the added investment costs of hiring in-house drivers, worrying about insurance, and more. For example, programs offered like DoorDash Drive use your own online ordering website or app and their drivers, called “Dashers” fulfill orders with Drive from DoorDash. Operators, instead of a percentage of the check fee, i.e., a commission, pay a flat fee per order while DoorDash handles all the logistics of delivery. Tacit, as a DoorDash partner, has the ability to implement an online ordering system and establish a program with DoorDash Drive.
The arrangement of having your own online ordering system with the delivery fulfilled by a third party also has several benefits including:
- Stronger focus on creating an amazing food experience instead of building out a delivery driver program.
- Establish a white-label solution with the third-party delivery provider so operators can strengthen their brand with customers. A white-label setup allows operators to hold brand integrity high without the cost of hiring, training, and managing drivers.
- Ability to ensure consistent, reliable delivery using a proven network built by the third-party company.
- Scale as you grow online orders, as the third-party delivery has the driver network in place to serve your needs as you increase business through online ordering.
Blending Your Online Ordering System With The Delivery Marketplace To Bring It All Together
The real secret sauce of today’s successful online ordering systems lies in connecting wherever customers wish to order. Many operators choose to offer an online ordering system that has a hybrid approach. In addition to offering ordering directly on the restaurant’s website for delivery, operators are also allowing customers to order on third-party apps that are then delivered by the app where the order is placed. This involves offering online ordering on the restaurant website or app with delivery handled by a combination of in-house drivers and third-party delivery along with the use of third-party delivery apps to attract new customers.
A hybrid approach does give operators the ability to get orders from wherever the customer wants to order, but when utilizing third-party apps for order and delivery, there are a few challenges to consider in this type of structure, when the third party app is not integrated into the operator’s point of sale. These can include:
- Increased labor costs or inefficient use of labor. Paying staff to monitor orders that come in through the third-party app iPad or tablet.
- A chance for higher errors. The staff then has to re-key that order into the point of sale, increasing the risk of errors through miskeying.
- Missing orders with manual processes in the case of multiple third-party app use. Operators and staff often refer to this environment of managing multiple tablets to monitor multiple third-party app orders as “Tablet Hell.” This environment can lead to inefficient use of labor, increased order error, and even potential for missing a customer order altogether, leaving money on the table and a bad taste in the customer’s mind about your brand.
Operators are able to overcome these challenges in a hybrid system that includes online ordering on the brand’s own website along with third-party apps by deploying third-party delivery platform integration to the POS. And in fact, Tacit integrates operators’ online ordering systems with DoorDash, UberEats, and SkipTheDishes to the point of sale system.
Without POS integration, the ordering flow of offering an online ordering system that includes options to order on the website and on third-party delivery apps is quite complex and full of risks, as outlined above.
Integration of the third-party app to the POS eliminates certain challenges immediately by letting the operator keep using the POS that’s already in place. The POS integration significantly reduces order mistakes, creates efficiencies by bringing all workflows into the POS, and allows both the front and back of the house staff to focus on the quality of service, instead of the process of ordering.
Get set up with online ordering system success by Choosing the Right Partner
These three ways to introduce delivery with online ordering all have worthy consideration. At the end of the day, your online ordering system should align with your overall business goals. With many considerations for operators to offer digital ordering to reap the benefits outlined above, the right partner will make setting up your online ordering system that fits your exact needs a breeze. Reach out to Tacit today to learn more about how we partner with brands and implement digital ordering done right.