Online food ordering
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Online food ordering services are websites that feature interactive menus allowing customers to place orders with local restaurants and food cooperatives. Much like ordering consumer goods online, many of these allow customers to keep accounts with them in order to make frequent ordering convenient. A customer will search for a favorite restaurant, choose from available items, and choose delivery or pick-up. Payment can be amongst others by credit card or cash, with the restaurant returning a percentage to the online food company.
While e-commerce has been around for over a decade, closing the gap between food and the Internet has taken longer. The first restaurants to adopt online food ordering services were corporate franchises such as Domino's and Papa John's. Other pizza franchises such as Pizza Hut have been quick to adopt online food ordering.
The preexisting delivery infrastructure of these franchises was well suited for an online ordering system, so much so that in 2008 Papa John's International announced that its online sales were growing on average more than 50 percent each year and neared $400 million in 2007 alone.
Local companies have teamed up with e-commerce companies to make ordering quicker and more precise. Annie Maver, director of operations for The Original Pizza Pan, Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio comments that "the system is good for customers who don't speak English."
Some restaurants have adopted online ordering despite their lack of delivery systems, using it to manage pick-up orders or to take reservations.
Independent online food ordering companies offer two solutions. One is a software service whereby restaurants purchase database and account management software from the company and manage the online ordering themselves. The other solution is a Net-based service whereby restaurants sign contracts with an online food ordering website that may handle orders from many restaurants in a regional or national area.
One difference between the systems is how the online menu is created and later updated. Managed services do this via phone or email, while unmanaged services require the customer to do it. Some websites use wizards to find the best-suited menu for the customer.
Food cooperatives also allow consumers the ability to place an order of locally grown and/or produced food online. Consumers place an order online based on what is available for the ordering cycle (month, week) and then pick up and pay for their orders at a central location.
As an offshoot of online food ordering services, websites archiving restaurant menus online have appeared.
Advantages for Online Ordering
There are advantages for both the customer and for the restaurants who participate in online ordering. First, a customer can order at will when they have time to. Also, the customer is able to customize their order the way they like it without errors in communication between the customer and the person taking the order. In addition to customer advantages, the restaurant is able to take more orders with less staff. The restaurant does not need a waiter or hostess to be on the phone to take the order. The order can go straight to the kitchen.
Disadvantage for Online Ordering
Customers are not able to ask about quality of food or ask for any specialized diet foods. It is more difficult to ask for gluten free or allergy free foods with online ordering. Also, it is more possible for a customer to place an order, but never pick up the order which can lead to waste of food and possibly a loss of profits.
Online Ordering with Phone Apps
Today, many restaurants offer the technology to place an order with an app. Many restaurants will offer a special if the order is placed online. Subway offers a free cookie while Papa Johns offers specials only available on the app. Restaurants do this because they are able to reach a larger market with this technology. They are able to reach a target market that is tech friendly. Many people these days have a smart phone and that percentage continues to rise.
- “Pizza Hut Announces System-Wide Online ordering.” Business Wire. 5 June 2007
- Associated Press. "Papa John's hits online ordering milestone." 5 May 2008.
- Soder, Chuck. “Online Ordering System Will Get Bigger Slice of Case Students' Pie.” Crane's Cleveland Business News. 14 May 2007.