2021 Restaurant Guide: How to Start an Online Restaurant in 3 Easy Steps

In a world plagued by the COVID-19 crisis, online ordering has become immensely popular. Food delivery is now the norm all across the globe and it is growing phenomenally every day. This translates to big opportunities in the field of online ordering for the years to come. 

Online restaurants are a profitable business model today and have completely changed the way the F& B industry works. These restaurants operate in the digital space. Essentially, they are commercial kitchens that don’t have traditional dine-in spaces. Instead, they receive all orders online and work on food delivery.

A major perk that comes with this set up is that restaurants can retain 100% of the profits they make with every order. They can avoid hefty commissions altogether and have higher revenue generation. These restaurants also incur much lower costs compared to brick-and-mortar restaurants such as rent and utilities.

The future of the restaurant industry lies in online ordering and any business needs to have an impressive online presence today. Whether you want to set up a new virtual restaurant or want to shift your existing restaurant online, don’t let it intimidate you. 

In this article, we’re going to cover how you can enter the world of online restaurants with 3 simple steps:

  1. Find a Reliable Online Ordering System
  2. Create a Delivery-Specific Menu
  3. Set up Self-Delivery

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Find a Reliable Online Ordering System

Investing in the right online ordering system is crucial for your business. A robust online ordering system that not only provides a branded website but also enables personalized customer experience is your best bet in today’s time and age. But with a multitude of online ordering systems at your fingertips, it can be quite overwhelming to choose one that suits your business. Even though all major restaurant online ordering systems offer free trial sign-ups lasting between 14 and 30 days, but it’s only wise to do your own R&D before you onboard with one. A few months back, we wrote an article on 10 questions that you should ask your online ordering system provider, today, we’ll discuss factors that you must consider before making the final call. 

So, here are a few factors to keep in mind:

Reviews
Before narrowing down your options, check out the websites of different Online Ordering Systems that you’re interested in. Do they have testimonials from successful restaurants? Have they received much acclaim from their clients? Try to find as much positive information and good press you can with regard to user experience. This can help you gauge whether the system will be the right fit for you. 

Contactless Ordering

Contactless ordering has grown crucial in the wake of the pandemic. Your Online Ordering System should provide the option for contactless ordering and delivery within the website/mobile app. In addition to this, if you have a dine-in facility, the same provider should be able to equip you with QR technology that your diners can use to place orders from their phone or smart devices. 

Device Friendly

This one almost goes without saying-having an online ordering system that can’t be accessed on your mobile and laptop is a recipe for disaster. Your staff should be able to manage orders on the go, from their most preferred devices. And most importantly, your customers should have the freedom and the flexibility to place orders seamlessly from anywhere, anytime from their devices - whether iOS or Android, Big or Small Screen, Desktop or laptop. 

Easy Payment Options

Ensure that your online ordering system offers a wide range of payment options, ranging from debit cards to credit cards, digital wallets, cash on delivery, etc. This not only ensures a better customer experience but also improve conversions. 

Analytics

Monitoring customer data, insights on products and sales, can all help you make informed marketing strategies, which is crucial for the overall growth of the business. A solid Online Ordering System that provides a comprehensive set of analytics can be a huge asset. 

Simple Onboarding Process

When you’re getting accustomed to new technology, getting to know it can take some time. It’s important to have a support team at your service 24/7 that can help you set up the system from scratch. The entire process of incorporating a new restaurant online ordering system should be as seamless as possible. Quality support can help you level up the game. 

Step 2: Create a Delivery- Specific Menu

In most cases, a delivery-specific menu is usually a shorter version of a traditional restaurant menu. Here’s why - not all dishes that you serve at your restaurant sit well in a delivery context. Certain dishes can get soggy and unappetizing on delivery. This can affect the customer experience as well as tarnishing the restaurant’s reputation. 

Optimizing your menu for food delivery is a major requirement when you prepare your restaurant for online ordering and takeaway. To do this, you need to take multiple factors into accounts such as food preparation time, food temperature, quality, and texture. Each item should be easy to pack and deliver to customers. It should also not lose its appeal for at least 40 minutes or the duration it takes to reach the customers.

Take some time to weigh in different packaging options for menu items and gradually only keep those items that are delivery-friendly. One way to reduce costs is to include food items that have several ingredients in common. Cutting back on your list of ingredients also helps in keeping food wastage at a minimum.

Further, place your high-margin food items front and center in your menu to draw more attention. Post-high-quality images of food along with mouth-watering descriptions. Stay away from offering foods that don’t have competitive pricing.

Try to trim your menu to fit in popular dishes that people love. Offering a plethora of options can have a negative impact and overwhelm customers entirely. So, keep it simple!

Step 3: Set Up Self Delivery

Once your online ordering system is up and running and you’ve engineered your menu to its most optimal version possible, it’s time to focus on the delivery aspect. The most cost-effective way to handle food delivery is to set up self-delivery for your restaurant. 

While partnering with third-party vendors is a common choice, commission rates go as high as 30% of each order. These steep costs add up quickly and eat away a large chunk of profits made by your business.

Hiring a fleet of drivers for food delivery is your best option. Depending on the number of orders you receive, you could test the waters by hiring a couple of drivers first and then moving on to a whole team. You will have to decide whether you want to hire employees with their own vehicles or provide them with company transportation.  

You will also need to train these employees on how to place food items during delivery and avoiding any spills. Given that they represent your brand, it is important to make sure their attitude aligns with your brand image.

Having an in-house delivery team can lead up to a 50% lower delivery cost compared to partnering with aggregator apps such as GrubHub and Uber Eats. By cutting your delivery costs in half, self-delivery subsequently increases your revenue. If you decide to charge your customers a nominal amount of delivery fee, you can expect high margins per order. 

Not only this, but you also get to exercise complete control over the customer experience, all the way from online ordering, meal prep to food delivery. 

As the restaurant industry is an ever-changing space, it is important to embrace new avenues constantly.  You can expect high revenues and more growth by setting up an online restaurant while keeping in mind the factors we’ve mentioned.

Ready to get started?

Schedule a Live Demo with our Support Team to see how your restaurant ordering website will look and function when you sign up with Restolabs. 

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