Canadian Pizza Magazine

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the pizza chef: Online ordering adds sales without extra staff


April 9, 2010
By Diana Coutu

Topics

Online ordering is a great technology but to make the most of it you need to be aware of the potential hazards.

Online ordering is a great technology but to make the most of it you need to be aware of the potential hazards. Last year we incorporated online ordering into our pizzeria. While there are many companies that promise effective integration of online ordering, for us it was a matter of full assimilation with our existing POS system. Over the past few years there have been several business start-ups that create websites with the option of taking orders online. Some fax or e-mail the order to your pizzeria, others send a text message to indicate there has been an order placed online that the operator or a staff member needs to retrieve by logging into a website, then print and assemble. There are so many businesses that offer this service nowadays that it is wise to be wary of turning into someone’s guinea pig. I recommend choosing a company that has a proven track record and satisfied clients that you can actually talk to.

Before committing to any online ordering company you need to ask what type of systems they have in place in case their servers go down. How does your customer know if they’ve successfully placed an order online? Will it send them a confirmation e-mail or a text? How soon after the customer enters their order will it show up in your system? What if your customer has a special request, for example asking to knock at the door instead of using the doorbell because of a sleeping baby? Or what if they need change for a $100 bill? What happens when someone tries to place an order for delivery that is outside your defined area? What happens when someone tries to place an order
after you’re closed?

Real life is rarely cut and dry. People have all sorts of requests ranging from mundane to complex and when you add another layer of technology you need to anticipate these situations. The last thing you want to do is to have a successful launch of an unsuccessful system.

In our case, we knew we didn’t want to have a fax machine that we’d have to check every five minutes.  We also knew we didn’t want to have several other steps to retrieve the order. We restrict staff access to the Internet and we knew we didn’t want to open that Pandora’s Box. In the past we’ve discovered staff surfing the Internet for hours (while on the clock) and even infecting our system with a nasty virus. We simply wanted the order to show up in our POS as if one of our staff had entered it. Approach any new technology by asking yourself if during the busiest Friday supper the new technology will be truly helpful or add to the chaos that can turn a good shift into a nightmare. You should also be prepared to fully test the system before going live. Never expect that it’ll work as intended as that’s always a recipe for disaster.

Our POS provider put us in touch with its recommended online ordering company which built us a new website incorporating numerous requests for our specialized needs. Month after month, we’ve seen not only an increase in online ordering by our customers but also higher ticket averages than orders placed via the traditional phone or in-person
methods. How great is that? Sales are coming in and we don’t need an extra phone person on the schedule. It’s been so successful that we’ve contracted Brygid to build us a mobile site, which for all of you non-techies is a website built specifically for viewing on iPhones and smartphones without the need to resize because of the smaller screen. We anticipate that our customers will adopt this new technology with even more ease and that our sales will continue to soar.

Overall our online ordering system has been a great addition to our operation. Of course, there were a few bugs to work through. Some had to do with customer entry mistakes and adding tools to help reduce them and others with adding proper coupon codes so our customers could use special offers that were mailed to them. No system is inherently perfect from the start but by choosing a company that has a proven track record you will head off potential frustration for you and your customer while giving your sales
a boost. •


Diana Coutu is a two-time Canadian Pizza Magazine chef of the year champion, internationally recognized gourmet pizzaiolo, co-owner of Diana’s Gourmet Pizzeria in Winnipeg, Man., and a board of directors member for the CRFA. In addition to creating award-winning recipes, Diana is also a consultant to other pizzeria owner/operators in menu development, creating systems to run a pizzeria on autopilot, along with marketing and positioning to help operators grow their businesses effectively and strategically. She is available for consulting on a limited basis.  For more information contact her at Diana@dianasgourmetpizzeria.ca.