For small businesses, starting an online store can be a game-changer for your business, especially in today's hyper connected world. If you're still on the fence, now is the best time to take the leap. By creating an online store, you can tap into an entirely new sales channel for your business. Not only will you reach a wider customer base, but you'll also have the ability to sell your products or services around the clock.
In this blog post, we'll walk you through the numerous benefits of starting your online store, including the features you should prioritise and some of the top platforms to consider using. Don't miss out on the potential growth and profitability that an online store can offer your small business.
Benefits of Taking Online Orders
For starters, taking online orders gives you access to hungry customers around where you operate. You can expand your reach and target a larger customer base than what’s available in your local area. Plus, with an online store, you can make updates to your menu items anytime you want—no printing costs necessary!
Besides that, another benefit is that it improves your customer's ordering experience. By offering an easy-to-use ordering platform integrated with a third-party food delivery services like DoorDash or Grub Hub, you can make it extra convenient your customers to order and pay for their food. You can even offer pickup or delivery options to give customers even more flexibility.
Finally, taking online orders is another way to make extra sales for your business. Having an online storefront can help you to gain new customers and increase sales without having to worry about extra overhead costs like rent or staffing. And since the entire process is digital, you don’t have to worry about printing new menus or other costs associated with other traditional marketing efforts.
Next Steps for Taking Online Orders
Now that you know the benefits of taking online orders, it’s time to get started. The first step is to find an online ordering solution that meets your needs. There are a variety of software options available for restaurant owners, including popular options like ChowNow, Toast, and Cococart.
Each of these platform offers a variety of features and capabilities so do make sure to do your research and choose the one that you think would suits your business best. And once you’ve decided on an online ordering solution, you’ll need to set up your online ordering process. This may include creating menus, setting up payment methods, and integrating with third-party delivery services like DoorDash or Lalamove.
Features to Consider When Choosing an Online Ordering Platform
1. Determine your business needs
Before choosing an online ordering platform, determine what your business needs are. Consider factors like budget, customer demographics, order volume and type of products you sell. Once you have narrowed down your needs you can then proceed to select a platform that suits your business best. For instance, as a restaurant owner you may need a platform that allows menu customisation and customer reviews, while a running a retail outlet, you may require a platform with inventory management, shipping, and couponing capabilities.
2. Choose a user-friendly interface
Next, another feature to pay close attention when selecting an online order platform is the user interface. This is pretty crucial because the user interface of the platform will directly impacts the user's experience of your store. Your online platform needs a well-designed interface for customers to navigate easily, find what they want, and place orders without difficulty.
Avoid a poorly designed interface that causes confusion and leads to abandonment. To achieve success, invest in an intuitive, visually appealing user interface that is optimised for all devices.
3. Payment options
Selecting an online ordering platform requires careful consideration of payment options, as they play a significant role in customer satisfaction, retention, and ultimately, your business's profitability. Here's why diverse payment methods are essential:
- Convenience: Providing multiple payment options simplifies the purchasing process for customers, enhancing their overall experience. This ease of use can lead to repeat business and increased customer loyalty.
- Security: Customers have varying preferences when it comes to payment methods, but all seek a secure transaction process. Incorporating trusted payment options such as credit/debit cards, PayPal, or other reputable payment processors ensures customers that their information is safeguarded.
- Catering to Customer Preferences: Some customers exclusively use specific payment methods. By accommodating various payment options, you can cater to a broader range of preferences, increasing the likelihood of attracting and retaining customers.
By offering a diverse range of secure and convenient payment methods, your online ordering platform can significantly improve customer satisfaction and contribute to your business's success.
4. Inventory management
Efficient inventory management is a crucial aspect of any online sales platform. By incorporating a robust inventory management system, you can enhance your order process, boost sales, and ultimately elevate your profit margins. Here are some key reasons why inventory management is vital when selecting a platform:
- Accurate inventory monitoring: A reliable inventory management system assists in maintaining accurate stock levels, ensuring that you never run out of products. This is crucial, as running out of stock can lead to customer dissatisfaction and missed sales opportunities
- Avoid excessive stockpiling: Implementing an efficient inventory management system enables you to prevent the accumulation of surplus inventory, which can consume valuable capital and result in waste. Utilizing an online ordering platform integrated with inventory management offers real-time insights into stock levels, empowering you to make well-informed decisions
- Reduce order errors: Incorporating a centralised inventory management system that synchronises with your online ordering platform reduces the likelihood of order mistakes due to inaccurate stock levels. This approach helps you prevent dissatisfied customers and the need for refunds.
- Better forecasting capabilities: An online ordering platform equipped with inventory management features allows you to predict sales based on historical data. This information enables you to plan more effectively and make informed decisions regarding inventory levels and ordering processes
Inventory management plays a vital role in selecting an online ordering platform, as it assists in effectively managing stock levels, preventing waste, minimising errors, and making data-driven decisions. By incorporating a robust inventory management system, businesses can optimise their operations, enhance customer satisfaction, and ultimately improve their bottom line.
5. Customer management
Customer management tools are essential when selecting an online ordering platform, as they significantly improve the customer experience and can ultimately boost sales. These tools enable businesses to monitor customer data, such as order history, preferences, and contact details, which can be utilised to customise the ordering process and offer tailored promotions.
Furthermore, customer management tools offer insights into customer behaviour and demographics, which can guide marketing strategies and assist businesses in better understanding their target audience.
6. Security measures
Security measures are crucial for online ordering systems associated with brick-and-mortar stores. Consumers prioritise the safety of their personal information when shopping online, making it essential to have robust security measures in place. Here are few key reasons why:
- Safeguarding customer information: Customers typically provide personal and financial details when placing orders online. By opting for a platform with strong security measures, businesses can ensure the protection of this sensitive information.
- Combating fraud: Online ordering platforms are often targeted by fraudsters seeking to steal credit card information or other sensitive data. By selecting a platform with comprehensive security features, businesses can help prevent such attacks.
- Meeting regulatory requirements: is another crucial reason to invest in a secure online ordering platform. Depending on your industry and location, there may be specific regulations regarding the handling of customer data.
By opting for a platform with robust security measures, you can ensure compliance with these requirements and avoid potential legal issues. In summary, investing in a secure online ordering platform is a wise decision for businesses aiming to protect their customers and prevent security breaches.
5 Online Ordering Platforms for Restaurants and Retailers
Are you a restaurant or retailer looking to take your business online? If so, you’ll need an online ordering platform to manage orders and online payments. With so many options out there, it can be hard to know which one is best for your business. To help, here are five of the best online ordering software for restaurants and retailers:
Square is simple and easy to use, making it ideal for small businesses. It allows you to create a custom online ordering platform with menu items, photos, descriptions and more. Plus, it integrates with popular delivery services like DoorDash and Uber Eats.
Toast is a great choice for restaurants that are looking for an all-in-one solution. Its point of sale system includes features like online ordering, delivery and curbside pickup options, as well as marketing tools to help you engage customers.
Shopify is one of the most popular online ordering platforms for retailers. It’s perfect for those who need a comprehensive suite of tools for managing their store, including inventory management, payment processing, customer profiles and more.
ChowNow is a great choice for restaurants that want to establish their own online ordering site. You can design your own menus, manage orders in real-time, and even accept payments directly through the platform.
Cococart is an all-in-one solution for restaurants & small business owners looking to take their business online. It includes features like bookings, ordering platform, marketing tools like email, loyalty and analytics.
Ready To Start Your Store?
Starting a store can be a daunting task, but with the right tools and mindset, it can also be a rewarding experience. You'll need to decide on a niche, create a business plan, and choose a platform for your store. This could be an online marketplace like Etsy or Amazon, or your own website using platforms like Shopify or Cococart. Once you have your store set up, you'll need to focus on marketing and promoting your products to attract customers. With dedication and hard work, starting your own store can be a fulfilling and successful venture.