Why You Should Avoid Homemade Solutions For Your Restaurant Ordering Systems

restaurant ordering system

Over the past two years, restaurateurs have continuously embraced contactless service and mobile ordering to utilize technology-supported efficiency. However, as contactless services continue to grow in popularity and necessity for safety reasons and convenience, restaurants have been forced to adapt. Depending on the business, this includes a mix of optimization efforts through restaurant technology and building or implementing new mobile ordering solutions. Unfortunately, homemade ordering solutions come with some limitations, including being less able to scale and increased difficulty when adding new features. In this blog, we’ll look at the issues associated with a homemade restaurant ordering system and how those challenges lead to more stress, lower profitability, and subpar customer experiences.

What Are Homemade Ordering Solutions?

Rather than partnering with an online ordering provider, restaurants attempt to create their own in-house ordering system. However, adding technology or any new software to a business can add challenges with adjusting or processing the change. Discovering how utilizing an online ordering system can be beneficial is great, but it comes at a cost. In other words, does your team have the time, energy, and resources to build it? Even if the answer is yes, think about how you currently partner with companies like DoorDash or UberEats to outsource some of your ordering via their apps and perhaps all of your delivery of the food. 

After all, outsourcing with those third-party aggregators and delivery platforms means you’re outsourcing food delivery, so for the development of your digital ordering solution, it makes sense to outsource all that goes into building an effective multi-channel, multi-faceted digital ordering solution with a vendor.

When deciding to add in-house ordering, finding a developer or partnering with a development firm begins the process. Unfortunately, this will later cost multiple thousands to simply start the basic ordering structure, not to mention additional costs for any custom features added to the menu, how customers navigate your online ordering app or website, and more.

According to QSR, “Meal delivery orders increased by more than 150 percent between 2019 and 2020. At that rate, experts expect the food delivery market to be worth $365 billion by 2030, a tenfold increase over today. By focusing solely on takeout orders, dark kitchens make the most of this developing trend.” While the sudden demand spike has become part of history, the rise of online ordering and delivery continues to grow as recovery continues.

Restaurateurs can tap the increased market depth by leveraging technology to reach more customers. And with uncertainty still at play in different areas, customers’ expectations for a superior experience will continue to define the success of your brand. 

Homemade ordering solutions do offer increased control and complete customization of your menu and experience. However, the changing state of the economy and customer expectations for convenience means your brand needs a continuously evolving digital experience. While customers value consistency, adding new features and continuously developing your digital ordering capabilities with new designs to maintain a fresh look will further encourage repeat orders. Moreover, this can be a useful way to increase marketing by keeping your online system continuously changing. But there are some considerable challenges to overcome with trying to maintain a homegrown solution.

The Challenges of Homemade Ordering Solutions

Creating a homemade ordering solution comes with significant challenges. Superficially, building an ordering system sounds simple. However, it is a continuous process that needs to connect in-house and outsourced delivery services, curbside, online menus, and virtually every other channel. Unfortunately, it is easy to overlook the real and resource-consuming challenges associated with a homegrown solution. Here’s a look at these specific challenges.

Little Integration With Third-Party Systems

The first challenge may not be immediately evident. It is a lack of thorough integration with third-party systems. This is not simply integration with singular delivery services. Instead, it includes the need to integrate with all applicable systems within your restaurant, including loyalty programs, payment processing platforms, and more. Without integration, the ordering system cannot function to its fullest potential.

Over the past two years, restaurateurs have continuously embraced contactless service and mobile ordering to utilize technology-supported efficiency. However, as contactless services continue to grow in popularity and necessity for safety reasons and convenience, restaurants have been forced to adapt. Depending on the business, this includes a mix of optimization efforts through restaurant technology and building or implementing new mobile ordering solutions. Unfortunately, homemade ordering solutions come with some limitations, including being less able to scale and increased difficulty when adding new features. In this blog, we’ll look at the issues associated with a homemade restaurant ordering system and how those challenges lead to more stress, lower profitability, and subpar customer experiences.

Trouble Connecting to the POS

Limited integration naturally lends itself to the next problem, difficulty connecting to your restaurant’s POS. Without this connection, menu prices may be outdated, and customers do not have a reasonable expectation for what an online order will cost. Of course, adequately integrated systems that connect to the POS can give customers the ability to pre-pay for their meals and avoid all issues at the time of pickup.

Limited Data Analytics

In today’s world, dozens of systems and processes generate data. And that data is a treasure trove of information about your customers’ preferences, payment details, order history and even serves as a measure of their loyalty. Using advanced data analytics, which requires integrated systems in the beginning, helps restaurateurs better understand their customers. As a result, customer experiences are likely to result in more satisfying outcomes and turn customers into advocates of your brands who not only order from the restaurant over and over again but also refer friends. This is vitally important in an industry where marketing is designed to push customers toward the next new trend continuously. Yet, restaurateurs are not data analysts, so why would they want to devote countless resources to figuring out what someone’s metadata means?

High Labor Costs

Another challenge with developing, launching, and maintaining a homemade ordering solution is controlling costs. High labor costs are associated with building technology and software. That is the reality of the industry, and even in the simplest of systems, it is easy to make mistakes. Without an eye on the actual labor costs incurred, your online ordering platform may not generate a strong enough ROI to justify the investment.

Continuously Evolving Technology

Another challenge rests with the continuously evolving state of technology. In the same way that storage space gets smaller every year, advancements in technology are inevitable. This amounts to meeting that same technology powering your brand’s online ordering capabilities for the modern restaurant-goer. Unfortunately, the continuous evolution of technology will mean recurring maintenance costs for your system’s continuous development and relaunch. Can your brand afford to build an entirely new system every year or two? That is the question you need to seriously think about before trying to build a homemade ordering solution.

Additionally, performing maintenance and upgrading your systems takes much more than simply time; it can result in downtime for your website if not properly planned. Even if your brand does close at some point through the day or weekend, there is still a risk that something will go wrong. As a result, your brand’s online ordering system ends up in a state of downtime, but the right ordering solution has maximum uptime rates and will not need to be updated around the clock.

Limited Talent in Building a System

While thinking about the challenge of understanding how to build and launch a homegrown ordering solution, there is another issue to consider. Your inexperience in creating online ordering systems will be evident to your customers. Customers want an immersive experience with a feel and touch comparable to that of visiting your physical establishment. This is even more important for dine-in guests leveraging mobile devices to place orders, interact with waitstaff, and pay for their meals. Without the right talent building and maintaining your system, it will leave something to be desired for customers.

Missing Loyalty Program

The loyalty program is yet another issue that may come to light when trying to maintain a homegrown solution. Will your in-store loyalty program carry over to third-party apps, and if not, how do you intend for customers to track their points? This fundamental capability of tracking rewards is valuable for increasing repeat visits and testing new menu concepts. But without integration and a robust restaurant tech stack that functions as a single, one-stop solution, the loyalty program will be nothing more than a vague collection of memories.

Little Automation to Manage Incoming Orders

With online ordering, there is ample scalability in incoming requests. With the ease of curbside, dine-in, pick-up, drive-thru, and delivery services, your kitchen could quickly become overwhelmed, delaying orders. That’s where having a system that can throttle the flow of incoming orders is valuable. For example, rather than filling every request, peak dining hours may limit incoming orders to avoid overburdening your team. This is vital for brands trying to maintain a positive brand image.

Kiosk Programming and Maintenance Too

Lastly, there are challenges associated with launching new physical devices and kiosks in your restaurant. While customers may opt for mobile device ordering, tableside kiosks and in-store counter-kiosks add value by reducing the strain on counter staff and helping your team handle payments. However, those physical units also require programming, integration, and maintenance, alongside all the issues mentioned above. There’s a ton of room to make mistakes, and since your brand is effectively outsourcing the experience to a digital, online world, why wouldn’t you want to manage every aspect of it? The answer to that last question is simple; effective online ordering solutions help you work smarter, not harder, and unless you have a programming degree and plenty of resources at your disposal, it’s best to let the experts handle the work of building, launching and maintaining your online ordering presence.

Choose Tacit to Reap the Rewards of a Digitally-Enabled Restaurant, While Cutting Homemade Ordering Solution

Restaurateurs have demonstrated they can successfully deploy new business models and leverage technology to maximize efficiency and reduce stress on labor resources. However, the current market is extremely tight as restaurateurs struggle to find and retain labor to staff the brand at minimum levels simply. Unfortunately, that problem is likely to continue well into 2022. Rather than trying to devote limited resources to building a new homemade ordering system, it’s best to take advantage of turnkey solutions that can offer white-label service, scalability, and more. Connect with Tacit, an experienced partner in restaurant technology, to avoid homemade ordering solutions without sacrificing the quality of the customer experience.

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