Online food ordering
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Online food ordering is a process of ordering food from a local restaurant or food cooperative through a web page or app. 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, usually filtered via type of cuisine and choose from available items, and choose delivery or pick-up. Payment can be amongst others either by credit card or cash, with the restaurant returning a percentage to the online food company.
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 an internet-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.
Many restaurants offer the technology to place an order with an app, and may offer a discount or bonus item when the order is placed.
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Advantages for Online Ordering
There are advantages for both the customer and for 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 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 fewer 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.