Latest generation online order platforms offer many benefits for your business

Key points

  • Australia’s online takeaway market is set to rise to $4.2 billion by 2025
  • An alternative to third party online order platforms is to utilise one tailored for your own business
  • Latest generation platforms are designed to work across both desktop and mobile devices and typically all you need is internet access
  • In choosing an online order platform, pay particular attention to how much flexibility the system provides

This represents a major shift for the foodservice sector, especially given the presence in Australia of big brand third party online order platforms. But for many foodservice operators, signing up with third party platforms can be a difficult balancing act.

Third party platforms can bring in more customers resulting in increased order volumes, expanding your delivery areas and boosting your turnover. But this has to be balanced against the cost to your business – not only in terms of the reduction of your profit margin because typically between 30 to 35 per cent of the sale goes to the online order platform, but also through the fact that customers who formerly would have ordered from you directly are now placing their orders through a third party. In other brands, their brand loyalty has shifted from your business to the order platform’s.

There is, however, an alternative to going with a third party platform – and that is to take control with an own online order platform tailored for your business.

The latest generation online order platforms are typically designed to work across both desktop and mobile devices (phones, tablets, iPads etc) and many work independently of a Point of Sale (POS) system, which means you don’t need to have one installed to take advantage of them.

Typically, all you need is internet access – and the platform provider can usually assist you with setting up a wireless internet account if required.

Your online order platform supplier will then provide you with a terminal consisting of a tablet and printer, for recording and printing out orders. If you already have a website, the online platform will need to be integrated within it – usually a fairly straightforward process of customising it so that your customers don’t notice any transition between your site and the order platform.

If you don’t have a website, it makes sense to set up a simple one which links through to the online order platform, and many platform providers will offer full web design and hosting services as part of a package deal.

Today’s online order platforms usually include an admin area where you can edit content. This means you can update menu prices, trading hours, loyalty coupon codes and more – giving you the flexibility to make changes in realtime.

A major benefit of using such a platform is that it will make a database record of each customer who places an order. This enables you to build up a contact list of customers (including regulars) who you can then make contact with using marketing materials and special offers to keep them coming back to your business.

In choosing an online order platform for your business, pay particular attention to how much flexibility the system provides. For example, if you operate multiple restaurants in different areas, you’ll want one platform which allows you to control all their orders and enables you to set delivery zones by suburb. A system which provides detail statistics such as daily sales totals and can break these down by meal categories and order times is also helpful.

Finally, it’s important to make sure that whatever system you choose provides personalised customer support should you need it – including the ability to talk to real support staff over the phone and have them assist you with any issues that might arise.