“Even in the last five years, we’ve seen a
lot of changes, including online hubs, social media and group buying.” Ziegler says
that most restaurants view online ordering as a commodity now and as an important avenue for selling more pizza.
As online ordering technology has
evolved, so have consumer expectations.
James Sinclair, a business growth consultant at OnSite Consulting in Los Angeles,
says the consumer’s expectations have
changed in recent years when it comes
to online ordering. “It used to be this sequence of order it and pray,” says Sinclair.
“Now ordering is part of a fun experience
and incredibly personal, from mobile applications to website widgets to fun Twitter
engagements and everything in between.”
With companies such as Domino’s Pizza
( dominos.com) allowing consumers to
track their pizzas from start to finish, consumers feel more connected to both the
product and the store, with mobile ordering making it even easier, Sinclair notes.
“Memory, rewards—all in one click; everything is consumer-driven,” he says.
As consumer needs have changed, so, too,
have the needs of operators who are interested in offering online ordering to their
customers. But pizzeria operators don’t
necessarily have the time or energy to
invest in setting up a website or integrating it into their POS systems. Thankfully,
nowadays, most of the work is done for
you, with companies offering solutions
that will have you up and running in a
matter of minutes. At the same time, other companies allow a do-it-yourself approach for those who enjoy building their
own site (a comprehensive list of providers can be found on pages 32 to 33).
Arlington, Texas-based Breakaway
Restaurant Solutions has been offering its IRIS online ordering option to
its POS customers since January, and,
according to director of sales and operations Michael Stuhlman, the system can
build an entire menu online in less than
10 minutes with the click of a button. “If
the store wants to add something to the
menu, they just add it to the site and re-
synchronize it with the store,” Stuhlman
says. “It allows a restaurant to bring new
features to customers quicker.”
But some features of online ordering
can be trickier than others, says Jason
Kiefer, president and founder of Real
Time Ordering (RTO), based in Fullerton,
California. According to Kiefer, whose
company boasts a pizzeria client list of
about 400 (one-quarter of which are
small independents), pizzeria operators’
No. 1 need is an easy topping strategy.
Apparently, with all of the different cou-
pon deals and menu combinations, this is
an area that has been difficult to perfect
in the past with online ordering modules.
Because of so many requests, Kiefer says,
RTO is now able to customize any topping
combination a pizzeria requires.
Meanwhile, with the topic of nutritional information requirements dominating the news lately, One Click Dining
has taken notice and integrated a feature
into its online ordering module that allows for the addition of nutritional data
as well as Weight Watchers points. And
company owner Richard Allen says he’ll
soon introduce technology that could
further revolutionize the online ordering
process: an app that utilizes interactive
voice recognition software.
Texting creates safety issues, and a
few cities have even begun issuing fines
for “careless walking” or “distracted
walking.” Allen says his “click-n-speak”
technology will allow smartphone users to place online orders using voice
commands instead of pushing buttons.
“What I’m working on is entirely voice-activated, including the ability to locate a
restaurant, call in a reservation, place an
online order and even pay for the order,
all without ever dialing the phone.”
As technology has grown to meet consumer demand, we’ve also seen online
ordering numbers mirror that growth.
Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Chicago-based Money Crashers Personal Finance,
notes that online orders at Domino’s and
Papa John’s ( papajohns.com) now account for more than 30% of each of the
companies’ overall business. Additionally, recent statistics show that an average
online order is an estimated 18% larger
than one placed over the phone. “
Consumers have reacted very well to the concept of online ordering,” Schrage says.
“They can take their time, browse an online menu and make their choice without
feeling rushed or pressured. This is a key
reason why online orders are higher than
those placed by phone.”
Integrating online ordering into Facebook
seems like a no-brainer. There are close to 1
billion people on Facebook, and, according
to Mintel, a leading market research company, nearly 50% of consumers surveyed
consider online ordering to be an important
“Many online ordering programs today have developed or are in the process of developing applications that re-
“Now ordering is part of a fun experience and
incredibly personal, from mobile applications
to website widgets to fun Twitter engagements
and everything in between.”