For many independent restaurants, keeping up with technology is a difficult task. Large chains pour huge amounts of money into their point of sale, reporting, back-office, and online ordering systems. It’s not easy to keep up.

But there is a reason large chains are investing heavily in technology, especially online ordering: In the long term, it saves them money by reducing order mistakes and labor.

Keep in mind that not all online ordering solutions offered to independents and small chains are created equally, and they don’t necessarily offer the same benefits. To take advantage of online ordering for your restaurant, you need to ensure it works with your existing systems, like your point of sale.

I recently spoke with two independent pizzeria operators who have integrated online ordering with their point of sale to see how well it’s worked.

Dominic Barraco, the owner of Zazzo’s in Westmont, IL, told me he has always offered online ordering for his customers. When he first opened his restaurant he was using an online ordering provider that did not integrate with his point of sale system. That meant that every order that came in online had to be read off a tablet and then manually entered into his SpeedLine point of sale system.

Dominic Barraco, owner of Zazzo’s

“It was definitely a spot for possible issues with the order,” Dominic told me. “There’s three places an issue can occur during an order: when the order is entered, when it’s made, or when it’s delivered. Integrated online ordering eliminates a full third of the problems.”

Cory DeLuca of Mama DeLuca’s in Nowthen, MN was motivated to ensure his online ordering integrated with his point of sale system for the same reasons. “It makes my employees happy!” Cory told me. “It’s one less thing for them to do when there’s a rush. Our operations run smoother, and there are less mistakes since it’s the customers entering it and not the staff.” When online orders make up 25-50% of orders on any given night like they do at Mama DeLuca’s, having online orders flow directly into the POS becomes a big time-saver.

As soon as Dominic’s new online ordering website was live and integrated, he began promoting it aggressively. “I added the website to my boxes, bags, a direct link from my company website. I removed my take-out menu from my website entirely now that customers can see everything from the online ordering site,” he told me. “It encourages them to order online rather than call in.”

By encouraging his customers to order online, Dominic has been able to reduce order mistakes and decrease labor costs. Ideally, he would like all of his customers to place their orders online, but for now he is happy with being able to reduce the number of staff members taking orders. “I have trouble finding good workers, so I’d like to eliminate these positions where I can.”

Cory believes that integrated online ordering gives him an edge over his competitors. “Pretty much everyone in my area has online ordering,” he told me. “The big chains definitely integrate it, but the independents don’t have many affordable options, and a lot of them end up entering orders from a tablet.”

For these two independent pizzerias, implementing integrated online ordering has saved time and money and given them the edge that the large chains have.

Elizabeth Kelly is the marketing specialist with SpeedLine Solutions Inc., a leading pizza and delivery point of sale developer.

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