August 15, 2023
Devn Ratz

How Online Food Ordering Works to Future-Proof Restaurants

Can you picture two decades ago when online ordering was still merely a convenience? Now, it stands as a standard of the modern eatery, offering healthy fare in sustainable packaging through convenient digital menu ordering

Restaurant owners who seek to build up their business will find great delivery service an attractive way to power their profits. To take advantage of online food ordering trends, restaurants sometimes rely on the expense of working directly with third-party apps, like Grubhub, DoorDash, and Postmates.

Although, restaurants also have the option to spearhead their own online food ordering. This becomes possible through cloud-based software and app integrations with the existing systems in the restaurant, including a POS system, CRM software, and inventory management.

Key Takeaway: Online food ordering enables restaurants to tap into the majority of dining sales, since online orders at restaurants have beaten on-site traffic since 2020. 
Learn to leverage online food ordering at your restaurant with our free expert guidance. Download the eBook now.

What is Online Food Ordering?

When you think of it, online food ordering doesn’t veer far from the experience of shopping online for goods and services. In both, the customer uses a delivery service provider, website, or application to place an order for delivery or pickup. 

The concept was simple when it was first introduced, and Pizza Hut delivered the first online order with their signature crust. The results for enterprise restaurants and restaurant owners has been nothing short of explosive for the industry. 

Today, consumers engage online ordering weekly, and many multiple times per week. The third-party apps that got their start just a few years ago have steadily climbed since they saw strong success in 2018, reaching $90 billion. However, by the end of the pandemic, the industry grossed over $290 billion. That’s why it’s called a delivery revolution.

The Timely Rise of Online Food Ordering

While online food ordering hasn’t boasted such an influential sales number for long, it is a steep incline of growth since 1994—when enterprising giant Pizza Hut sent the first online food order slice. 

In the United States, the online food ordering category has appealed to most adults, especially since nearly half of them all have ordered food online at least once. But, that wedge of interest continues to grow as grocery stores, hotels, grocers, and country clubs come online as well. 

Few may remember, but in the early 2000s, if you wanted to run a restaurant delivery service online, you usually had to build a custom application. Once businesses like Pizza Hut and others started jumping in on this investment, they say a 20 to 30 percent jump in business. 

Then, as smartphones began to penetrate the market, food delivery got its kick from innovation. This is when startups like DoorDash and Postmates started to gain traction with tech solutions. By that point, it was easy to see how app and online food ordering overcame phone interactions. 

When it was estimated in 2018, experts at NDP said that the industry of online food ordering was growing faster than dine-in traffic by threefold. Then, after COVID struck, online food delivery was boosted to further heights as a venture all in its own. 

Now, we see new types of restaurants emerging as companies strive to innovate online ordering platforms and take hold of this rich market ready for unique offers.

Types of Online Food Ordering Restaurants

Know your options. Know your competition, and know online food ordering inside and out with this quick guide to different ordering types. You might find your restaurant approach here, so review the benefits and cons of each to decide if you need to augment your restaurant’s service for more success. 

Traditional Delivery

There was once a time that only fast food and similarly casual restaurant chains would have delivery or takeout. More recently, these services have started moving away from the in-house driving and custom in-house development of apps to handle this function of the modern restaurant. 

However, those who have been offering delivery services for many decades—such as Papa John’s and Dominos, too—continue to innovate to stay ahead. These global brands use every kind of online food ordering to capture each segment of this excited demographic.

Restaurant Websites

When restaurants want to increase food deliveries, they need custom development or a flexible, robust software partner like Revolution Ordering.  In this way, the restaurant or chain can integrate with their existing POS systems, inventory management software, or CRM systems to create a seamless user experience. 

If the restaurant hires a vendor for the service, they’ll pay a monthly fee for the cloud-based SaaS for restaurants enabling off-premise ordering. Otherwise, they may pay a percentage on each order to compensate the tech solution company.

In its most simple workflow, the process begins when customers visit your website. From there, they can select whether they want a pick-up, take out, or reservation-based order. Once they add their items to the card and process payment through a secure portal, customers are notified and kept up to date by order tracking and automations. 

Delivery Apps

There is also online food ordering without much involvement from restaurants—but it comes at a high price. 

Drivers and third-party apps can process and arrange your deliveries through their own digital ordering approaches. To participate, restaurants pay a subscription fee of a percentage or flat rate to appear in results and be part of the rapidly growing service. 

Meal Kits

Finally, online food ordering also includes unprepared, fresh, and raw ingredient delivery. This is a growing segment of the online food ordering market because many customers value their messaging of sustainability and conservation. 

Many also appreciate the experience of getting to cook while still having the comfort of getting the items delivered. 

Ghost Kitchens

As the food delivery market continues to dominate eating in the US and elsewhere, new types of restaurants have emerged to fit the demand. 

For instance, many have turned to the low overhead and simplified operations of virtual service only. This means that customers can order from the restaurant, but they will never see a brick-and-mortar store featuring its name. Instead, these ghost kitchens rely on the boom of online orders to feed their business year round. 

Since these virtual service-only restaurants keep coming in new designs, branding, and flavor profiles—there’s no reason to suspect they’re going away any time soon. 

Online food ordering promotes enterprise brands to become market leaders. Demo Revolution Ordering to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Food Ordering

To future-proof a restaurant against the consistent pressure of online food ordering, knowledge is power. 

Check out these most frequent questions about online food ordering from other restaurant owners and staff. See how integrations can help you reach new customers, improve order accuracy, and integrate with third-party apps while supporting seamless online food ordering.

How can restaurants expand with online food ordering?

Online food ordering assists restaurants in expanding by reaching new customers and increasing their spending through sustainability for restaurants or online ordering platforms. 

By offering delivery and pickup, restaurants appeal to customers who prefer conveniences. At the same time, online ordering can help brands streamline their operations, cut food waste, and reduce human error. This is a win for revenue as well as future sales when loyalty programs boom as a result.

Which software helps restaurant owners improve order accuracy?

Many solutions help owners increase order accuracy, but most restaurants can save by choosing to expand into online delivery through integration—rather than replacing existing systems. 

Keep your point-of-sale system, inventory management software, and customer relationship management software. You’ll process orders more accurately and with more speed through the simple ease of online ordering integration with intelligent automations.

Do online ordering tools for restaurants integrate with third-party apps?

Some online ordering partners integrate with third-party apps. Other options promote their own delivery services and charge steep fees for participating in their app’s roster of restaurants. 

Research carefully, and choose an online ordering solution that best fits their needs and goals before you leap into the exciting world of online food ordering for off-premise revenue.