Made to Order

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madetoorder

Keep up with consumers’ drive to save time when ordering online

Time is a treasured commodity. Few people have enough of it and some can barely spare the patience it takes to wait in line for a toasted turkey sandwich on whole wheat during the busy noon-time rush. Convenience is key, and it continues to drive technology advancement in online ordering.

It’s true, some small companies are keeping status quo with simple email-based online ordering systems, but many others are harnessing the power of the Internet. Vancouver-based White Spot’s online ordering system guides customers through its entire menu, including add-ons and upsells at the virtual checkout. Pizza Pizza’s site is just as multi-faceted. It logs ‘favourite’ orders with an array of images to boot. This practicality and choice is paying off for the brand.

“A lot of customers — because they have the time to source through the entire website — aren’t sticking with the core products,” says Tina Kalogeropoulos, the chain’s marketing manager.  “They’re taking advantage of our signature pizzas and different recipe combinations.”

This type of innovation takes work. Pizza Pizza’s re-launch of its online ordering system was initiated in 2008. “[The new site has] a completely new look and feel and, more importantly, it ties into our back-end kitchen system,” explains Kalogeropoulos. “So our order processing department, our POS system and online are all now on the same platform.”

Nevertheless, with the continued rise of smartphone technology and usage, mobile-based ordering apps and microsites are becoming the new norm. For instance, U.S. chains such as Colorado-based Chipotle Mexican Grill and even small operations like the five-unit, Ohio-based Barry Bagels, have introduced mobile applications. Mark Greenblatt, president of Barry Bagels, launched an app in December and is already getting bites from iPhone and iPod touch users who order as they would on the website, even bookmarking favourite meals for next time and sourcing the nearest location for pick-up. The operator was approached by Onosys, a Cleveland-based online-ordering company, to demo an iPhone app they created. “I was more than happy to oblige,” he says. “It’s very easy to use as well as great advertising. Our Barry Bagels icon sits on that phone’s home screen to always give the customer the thought of ordering from us.”

Michael Lewkowicz, a franchisee and chairperson for Subway Advertising Fund Trust, Buffalo, recognizes the advertising opportunities, too. After introducing mobile-based text messaging to the company, he’s now eager to introduce an iPhone ordering tool. “The idea with text-ordering is you can send people an SMS message at 10:30 a.m., reminding them it’s time to place their order for lunch. It’s good marketing,” he says, emphasizing the benefit of capitalizing on a customer’s decision to opt into such a program.

Canadian foodservice companies are also prepping to jump into the mobile-ordering fray. Pizza Pizza has confirmed plans to unroll its own smartphone app to a wide platform of users. “We haven’t technically started with the first steps on the design and layout, but it’s one of the things that we’re looking to roll out. [It’s] top of our list for 2010,” emphasizes Kalogeropoulos.
The problem is this future trend is moving quickly into the mindset of today’s busy consumer. “This is the way it is. If people don’t realize it, they’re blind,” notes Lewkowicz.

Illustration by Gary Sawyer

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