Online Ordering - The Real Debate

I am a pizza owner in a small suburb outside of Detroit, MI. I am looking into getting into online ordering. Let’s start an actual debate on whether these services work and some of their highlights.

I’m thinking about going with for my online ordering needs. I’ve heard that my check averages will increase by 293.5% and my operations will become so efficient that I will no longer need employees to make the pizzas! I was going to start the process this month, but before I could send off an email requesting service I discovered that I’ve won the European Union lot-tery and have instead decided to retire from the pizza business - amazing since I didn’t even know I was entered!

Pointless in my town. Cost too much to add on internet service . . . and the increase in business won’t pay for the added costs.

What is the best way to promote on-line ordering? Why would a customer chose ordering online over calling it in?
It sounds like a “cool” idea but is it going to bring in new business?

And, if it shifts a bunch of current customers from phone to I-net . . . does it reduce my cost of taking those orders, or simplify the handling of those orders?

There are 2 aspects to online ordering…1st is the question about whether or not it will bring in more more business…I think the jury is still out on that, however, I think it looks promising…If you make things easier for your clients, common sense says it should work…2nd is creating some efficiency in your operation…I think the online ordering creates some efficiencies, however, I am not sure this translates into saving…If you have a phone answerer on shift and they have less calls to answer, can they be sent home?..Perhaps…But most of the time they will be their for their shift anyway…So the only way to capture this time is to increase volume…The thing I like about online ordering is that the computer understands what I want and does not talk back…

I wish my wife was like that! lol.

Since the POS provider I use started offering online ordering a few years ago, I actually considered it. While it required internet connections for the stores (which I have since added for future franchise sales reporting), after careful consideration of our mission statement and customer base, I didn’t think it would enhance my business model.

I think the uniqueness of an independent pizzaria, aside from the quality of the product, is the personalized service which accompanies it. I spend a lot of time on the phone, as it gives me the opportunity to “connect” with my customer base. I rely on the use of cordless phones and headsets to allow freedom of movement and “multi-tasking” while taking orders/interacting with customers.

Online ordering may be a great thing for Papa John’s, but I’m not sure how much it would benefit the average independent. Maybe both my business and customer base are stuck in the past, but I think we both like it that way.

Pizzachop because you say “I’m not sure how much it would benefit the average independent” it would be a good idea to find out before you write it off…If you are wrong and left in the “dust” you may not be able to recover…A few years back one of my suppliers send around a survey about whether or not I was interested in “online ordering”…I was in the 7% that said yes, yet less than 2 years later it now accounts for over 50% of their business…If it were just you, you might be able to proceed differently, however, your being right or wrong also affects your franchise owner…So you have to get it right…

Papa Johns has stated that approx 20% of their sales are from online ordering. At the same time, they have flat sales. So, this tells us that people are going online to order instead of calling. The upside is they are spending more time viewing the site and menu-better chance of buying more, the downside is we are not able to suggestive sell any items.
Food For Thought.

I will be adding online ordering that is integrated into my POS within the next few weeks. Where I see it helping the most will be on our busiest hours of the year when our five phone lines are all being used non stop and customers are repeatedly getting busy signals. this happens for an hour or two 5 or six times a year. If some of these customers that can’t get through go online to order from me instead of dialing my competition record days will be shattered this fall. I’ll keep the think tank posted as to it’s effect as it gets implemented and marketed.

I use Reventions system, it has online ordering tied into my POs as well as a marketing tool built into it so I can amass email addresses of know guests and email out web only specials, can’t wait to use it! Opening June 25th I’ll post results. Oh, since I put up our sign which includes our web address we’ve gotten no less than 30-50 new sign ups a day!

I am not sure if it is available but I have seen it on some of the electronics/computers sites they have a section that show others who have ordered this product also ordered this other product. Maybe it can be done with menu items as well.

I’ve done some research but I’m interested to hear people with some personal experience?
Any companies to go with? That post at the top talks about onosys, and I’ve heard of bigholler and delphis. Are these the industry leaders or do people have better experiences with other companies?

We use $10 per month. Nothing fancy or flashy. customer places their order online. The order is faxed ($.10 ea), emailed (free), and I get a phone call telling me the order has been placed ($.10ea).
The system has the ability to hold pictures, take pretty complicated coupons and specials, 1/2 and 1/2 pizzas, gathers customer information and has the capability to send birthday coupons, etc.

But it does not tie into anyones POS, it won’t allow for text orders, and it only doubles checks for your delivery area by zip code, not street listing.

My thought was for $10 a month plus fees, I’ll take a couple years to work out bugs and learn how to maximize the technology…

In my first 6 months of this system, my feeling is I am not getting more orders with the system than without. But the orders I do get are 50-100% higher tickets than those taken on the phone. Nobody is rushed, they browse our menu at their leisure, and the orders reflect that.

Napoli, you beat me to the punch. I too use ehungry ( At first, it was an experiment. But in 8 months, I have received 620 orders from 211 customers for a total of $16,323 in sales. Now, I’m hooked. I’m thinking about having ehungry customize the interface rather than using their branded templates.

As Napoli stated, it’s very inexpensive. You only have to make a couple of sales per month to pay for itself.

My observations:
Average check is higher than phone orders
Online customers very seldom use coupons
Frequency of repeat orders
Customers seem to enjoy “scheduling” their pickup or delivery

Bottom line is that at $10 per month, it’s almost a no lose situation.

honestly, when i hear this debate about internet ordering, it is like listening to a sales rep for yellow pages advertising. sure, some people, maybe even a lot in some cases will order thru the internet. but how can you think those are additional sales? how do u know they wouldn’t have picked up the phone and ordered the same thing from u?

i tried internet ordering in it’s infancy because i thought at the time that maybe it would be big. it was full of problems and it didn’t replace phone ordering, so after 2 years i dropped it. that was over 12 years ago.

one of my other friends with a shop near mine currently has it and says he only gets a couple of orders a day.
is it really worth it for that? if u like having it, and it works for u, great. i personally can’t get too excited about giving up any money for orders i would probably get any way.

you can say that about any kind of marketing or coupon you issue - how do you know people wouldn;t have ordered from you anyway? Well a few points:

  1. It easy to see extra/online only customers - these are the people who ONLY order via internet - or have order from a certain date ONLY via the internet (as per point 3) these people orders have higher ticket prices so who cares if they are new or not.
  2. Some people will only order online - one guy who is deaf (yeah I know its an extreme example but it work really well) but for him its the only way he can order easily. He pays on-line and also leaves a note on the order (goes into our POS) telling us he’s deaf and to make sure we use his door bell rather than knocking. Same for anyone else with poor English skills or those who just don’t like ordering over the phone (and there are a lot).
  3. We also get customers who prefer to pay online as they feel it is more secure than passing credit card details over the phone/via driver.
  4. We run on-line coupons - some are built in to the website and some are on our menu. Why? well to be honest I’d rather have a good proportion of my customers order on line a) because (as said many times above) online order tend to be high ticket price b) it saves me the labour for answering the phone which is a benefit on a busy night and c) even with the online coupons on the site and the menu a significant number of customers order without using them!

I do a lot of on-line business but I have had to work to get it - I actively include it in my marketing plan - we did postcards when we launched it (with a discount when you spent over a certain amount) and include an online coupon code in menu. I also try to include mention of the website and an online offer in every piece of mailing we do.

Its not really like yellow pages at all - there are plenty of operators on this site who are saying it works and I dare say PJ’s/Domino’s/PH are not really that likely to invest millions of dollars on something that is a fad or doesn’t have proven benefits.

my friend who is a programmer orders online all the time. if we order chinese, he makes me call, but he will do the online ordering for pizza. he grew up on a computer and he is more comfortable using online ordering than using the phone.

here is another point some of you may not be considering - I hear a lot of talk about menus, but when he used to order pizza over the phone (again, I was doing the calling), he did not use a menu. he would just order a simple pizza - sausage or whatever. he knew basically what he wanted, the toppings he was interested in were pretty standard, he would order a soda and just take whichever they had, coke or pepsi. now that he orders online, he is encountering the menu, seeing the specials or the specialty pizzas, adding on breadsticks…that may be part of the larger tickets people are seeing with online ordering.

another thought - ok, so their sales may be flat doing the online ordering, but what might their sales be without doing it? maybe they would have declined, eh?

I think this internet thing is going to be sticking around for a while…