ECommerce continues to transform the retail industry. The surge in online ordering predates the COVID-19 pandemic, which turned a flood of online sales into a tidal wave. Some key data trends to be aware of include:
- Research firm Statista forecasts that worldwide online retail sales will increase from $3.53 trillion in 2019 to $6.54 trillion in 2022.
- MarketWatch estimates that eCommerce will represent 25 percent of all retail sales by 2025, up from 15 percent currently.
- The mobile share of eCommerce sales will increase from 59 percent, or $1.4 trillion, in 2017 to 73 percent in 2021, according to Statista.
The eCommerce trend is spurring retailers to adopt POS system online ordering as a way to capture a greater share of this growing market. Retailers are finding that integrating their online ordering with their POS systems allows them to process orders faster and more accurately while also maximizing the revenue they receive from online orders.
Planning Your Online Ordering Strategy
Selling products online requires a different approach than in-person sales, but one important factor is unchanged: Businesses still must meet and exceed customers’ expectations. How retailers go about keeping their online clients happy entails devising an online ordering strategy. The first step in the strategy is determining which products to offer for sale online:
- Is the product’s packaging appropriate for delivery?
- Will packaging and delivery costs make it unprofitable to sell the product online?
- Will customers have sufficient information about the product (sizes, dimensions, etc.) to be sure they’re ordering the right product for their needs?
- Does the product travel well or will its quality be diminished in transit to the customer?
- Are sales of the product online subject to any legal restrictions?
Another consideration is whether the store’s staff is adequately trained to ensure a quality experience for your online clientele. They must be trained in how to package goods for safe transport, when to discontinue online orders for specific products, how to schedule and monitor product deliveries, and how to handle returned products.
Special Online Ordering Considerations for Restaurants, Bars and Cafes
Some dining and drinking establishments believe accepting online orders is as easy as putting a copy of their menu on a website and waiting for the orders to pour in. Just as with other retailers, restaurants, cafes, and bars have to consider which of their offerings will be appropriate to sell online:
- Can the product be packaged in a way that makes it safe and convenient to deliver without diminishing its quality?
- Will the product represent the business well when it is received by the customer?
- Is the product reheatable, and are special instructions required for doing so?
- Do any laws or regulations restrict the online sale and delivery of the product?
Likewise, the same staff-training considerations that apply to retailers will have to be managed by food and drink establishments. Customers will expect the products to be presented online in ways that are easy for them to find and with complete descriptions. The products should be shown in high-quality images and grouped in ways that facilitate planning multi-course meals. The descriptions must be appealing and informative without being wordy.
The first step in setting up online ordering for a restaurant is to devise a workflow strategy that takes full advantage of your POS system’s ability to accept and process online orders quickly and efficiently. This ensures that important tasks, such as pre-staging bags with utensils and condiments, are integrated smoothly in the production process.
The workflow anticipates all the functions that will be necessary for POS system online ordering:
- The appropriate parties are notified when an online order is placed.
- The order doesn’t appear on the kitchen display system (KDS) until payment has been confirmed.
- Orders that are missing a delivery address, a payment method, or other required element are rejected.
- The KDS notifies the delivery coordinator as soon as orders are ready to ship.
- Drivers are able to close out delivered orders via a mobile app.
How to Avoid Common Online Ordering Errors
The biggest mistake many retailers make when implementing an online ordering system is rushing to get something, anything, in place right away. Fear of missing out causes some retailers to start with a free or low-cost online ordering solution that they can “fix” later. This approach is a recipe for disaster.
A POS system for online ordering has to have all the features the retailer needs from day one. That’s why it’s imperative to start the process by tapping the expertise of an advisor with first-hand POS software experience who understands the best way to integrate online ordering with the business’s other processes.
One of the greatest challenges that restaurants and other retailers face when planning and installing an online ordering system is making sure their online presence represents their brand. The online component becomes the face of the business, so it must engage customers the same way their store’s ambiance does. Customers need to be comfortable with and have control over their shopping experience.
The online ordering system is an opportunity for retailers to improve the efficiency of their operations by ensuring timely and accurate order processing. Order status can be tracked from the time the order is placed until it is delivered. The systems also allow retailers to assign new tasks to workers who have been furloughed by COVID-19 precautions, such as converting store clerks or wait staff into delivery drivers.
Online Ordering Helps You Adjust to and Thrive in the New Reality
Retailers have always known the importance of adapting to changing customer preferences, new technologies, and unpredictable market conditions. While there has never been anything like the disruption caused by the pandemic, people still need the products and services that stores, restaurants, cafes, and other retail establishments provide.
The retailers who are best able to capitalize on the reimagined retail environment will continue to connect with their customers using all the avenues at their disposal.
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