Food trucks

Is online ordering the next food truck craze?

by / 0 Comments / April 20, 2018

Food trucks are often grassroots businesses, born from hard work and countless late nights of hustling. But even though most food trucks are generally analog business, there’s no reason operators can’t implement online ordering to generate sales and drive traffic. 

There are many reasons why operators should consider implementing online ordering into their food truck’s regular workflow. Here’s a look at the top four.

1. Greater Visibility And A Wider Market. As a food truck, marketing is everything — especially in competitive markets. Putting your food truck menu up on online ordering aggregators like UberEats, GrubHub, Just Eat, and others, is essentially free advertising. The downside is operators have to penny up a percentage of each order, but they don’t have to pay until sales generate through those sites.

For GrubHub partners, this greater visibility almost always correlates to greater revenue. In fact, research conducted by Vivid Economics shows:

  • The average restaurant sees a 30% increase in take-out orders
  • One in five restaurants doubles take out orders
  • Small food trucks and restaurants see the greatest growth

For example, Ashlee Kleinert and her Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe in Dallas, this visibility has had a large impact on her business.

“People who maybe wouldn’t have the time to stand in line at Klyde Warren Park will order UberEATS. It opens up another demographic group: those that don’t have the time or are unable to visit the food truck,” Kleinert said.

2. Revenue During Off-Peak Times. Leah Wilcox is the founder of BabyCakes, a food truck and catering company in Chicago. She discovered GrubHub, and partnered with the platform, in order to stay profitable during the Winter months.

“I love how we see a lot of back-and-forth business that is always growing. If we take the truck out, people see the truck and want to order catering,” Wilcox said. “If we send an order through GrubHub, they find out that we have a food truck, and then they might want to come to our food truck. It really works to our advantage on either side.”

Whether you experience slow dinners, slow Sundays, or slow Winters, operators may be able to smooth out those revenue lows by offering online orders for pickup or delivery.

3. Bad Weather Protection. Food truck operators no doubt see sales declines when the weather is bad. Rain, snow, and dust storms aren’t really things they can help. But, that doesn’t mean they can’t do something about it.

Kleinert has seen how online ordering has given her a way to increase sales when people want her food but don’t want to endure the weather.

“It’s a biggie for us, too, because if the weather is bad, thankfully we can still have sales that day,” she said. “If we didn’t have UberEATS, no one would come out to (the food truck) when it’s rainy or cold or there’s other bad weather.”

Having this backup sales plan can make difference, especially if food truck owners operate in a location with less predictable weather.

4. Improved Customer Experience. Online ordering isn’t all about the delivery — it can improve your customers’ experience on-location in a variety of ways.

  • Diners can order online before they head to your location if they’re low on time
  • Tablet ordering can be made available of guests don’t want to stand in line
  • Your full menu can be displayed
  • Promotions and deals can entice skeptical eaters remotely

Things to consider

Overall, there are many directions a food truck operator can take once an online ordering system is in place. However, there are a few things that should be first considered.

  • Should you setup your own online ordering platform? Generally, you won’t be charged until orders are placed on delivery platforms like GrubHub. However, if you already have a large following, you may not need to put up with their fees. Creating your own online ordering solution gives operators more control over their customer loyalty programs, insights, and the ordering experience. This also avoids the high commissions charged by third party aggregators. There also are several companies that have online ordering platforms fully integrated with loyalty and data insights platforms. 
  • Does my POS play well with the delivery services? Taking online orders that don’t automatically flow into your regular POS is sure to be a logistical nightmare. Reconciling the two systems will take time.
  • Are there limitations on when I can handle online orders? There may be times when you’re consistently swamped. Consider turning those orders off during peak hours if you don’t think you have the capacity to handle the strain.
  • Will customers in line feel weird when others pick up food before them? Make sure you don’t alienate on-site customers by clearly advertising the possibility of online orders for pickup or delivery. This keeps them from feeling sidelined as others grab food more quickly than them.

Online ordering isn’t right for every food truck, but it’s likely valuable to most. To ensure third-party delivery platforms integrate with your POS, or to create your own ordering platform, check out POSBistro’s apps designed with food trucks specifically in mind.

* Garrett Oden is a freelance copywriter from Texas, USA for food and beverage related businesses. A former cafe manager, he understands the struggle of selecting the right POS system and enjoys helping business owners find solutions to their efficiency roadblocks.

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