Online food ordering services are websites that feature interactive menus allowing customers to place orders with local restaurants. Much like ordering consumer goods online, many of these allow customers to keep accounts with them in order to make frequent ordering convenient. A customer will search for a favorite restaurant, choose from available items, and choose delivery or pick-up. Payment can be by credit card or cash, with the restaurant returning a percentage to the online food company.
Service types: While e-commerce has been around for over a decade, closing the gap between food and the Internet has taken longer. The first restaurants to adopt online food ordering services were corporate franchises such as Dominos and Papa John’s. Other pizza franchises such as Pizza Hut have been quick to adopt online food ordering.
Restaurant-controlled: The preexisting delivery infrastructure of these franchises was well suited for an online ordering system, so much so that Papa John’s expected its online business to double last year to $200 million. Local companies have teamed up with e-commerce companies to make ordering quicker and more precise. Annie Maver, director of operations for The Original Pizza Pan, Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio comments that “the system is good for customers who don’t speak English.” Some restaurants have adopted online ordering despite lack of delivery systems, using it to manage pick-up orders or to take reservations.
Independent: Independent online food ordering companies offer two solutions. One is a software service whereby restaurants purchase database and account management software from the company and manage the online ordering themselves. The other solution is a Net-based service whereby restaurants sign contracts with an online food ordering website that may handle orders from many restaurants in a regional or national area. One difference between the systems is how the online menu is created and later updated. Managed services do this via phone or email, while unmanaged services require the customer to do it.