By directly accepting online food and beverage orders for pick-up and delivery instead of relying exclusively on third-party apps and marketplaces, business owners can improve their margins by avoiding high marketplace commissions, while also building stronger customer relationships. With Square Online, you can easily set up an online ordering page to take orders and maintain a comprehensive view of your restaurant operations in your Square account.
Once your ordering page is live, making sure your present and future customers know about it is the first step to growing your business through online ordering. Delivering a great customer experience will keep them coming back for more — online and in person.
This article covers key strategies and tips for driving food and beverage orders directly to your online ordering page.
Step 1: Announce your online ordering page
If you’ve just launched your new online ordering page, the first step is to make sure existing and new customers know about it, as they may be accustomed to navigating directly to a third-party marketplace app to place orders. Here’s how to drive awareness of your direct ordering link.
Link to your ordering page from your business site
If you have a separate website for your business, link to your ordering page from that site so visitors can easily discover it. Use prominent messaging, such as an ‘Order Online’ button in your site’s top navigation menu, to make your preferred ordering link as recognizable as possible.
Promote your ordering page on social media
Your Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and other social channels are one of the digital touchpoints where current customers seek updates about your business, and also where potential customers keep an eye out for new local businesses to try.
Make sure your ordering page is linked to the bio sections of your social media profiles for easy access. Create posts announcing your online ordering page as the best option for placing pickup and delivery orders. This is a great time to educate your customers: when they place orders directly from your ordering page instead of a third-party marketplace, they save money and support your local business, since you save on marketplace commission fees!
Free design tools like Canva are a great resource for quickly designing social media images using a wide range of prebuilt templates. If you offer delivery via your online ordering page, you can also use the Square social media toolkit to announce your delivery offering.
Point in-person customers to your online ordering page
You can also use your physical space and in-person transactions to highlight your new online ordering offering to dine-in customers and foot traffic by adding signage on your storefront, at your checkout station and on tables. If you also accept pick-up and delivery orders from third-party marketplaces, consider placing a sticker or insert in the bags so customers know they can order directly from your site next time.
Every Square Online ordering page comes with a custom QR code, found in ‘Site Preferences’, that can be downloaded and placed on print materials to streamline navigation to your ordering page.
Lastly, you can add a message about your online ordering page to customer receipts by visiting the ‘Account & Settings’ > ‘Receipt’ section of your Square Dashboard. You can add your ordering URL under ‘Other Information’ and a message reminding customers to order online under ‘Custom Text’.
Record a custom on-hold phone message
If customers regularly call your place of business, update your answering service or on-hold recording to let customers know they can order directly from your restaurant online.
Step 2: Maximise orders from Google and other search engines
Even if your business is a longstanding neighbourhood institution, new customers are likely to discover you online. Hungry diners use Google Search and Maps to find what they want when they want, using local search terms such as ‘vegan food near me’, ‘restaurants good for kids near me’, or whatever they are craving. Even the more generic search ‘food near me’ has steadily increased in popularity over the past five years. Here are some tips to ensure your business is discoverable in these high-intent search results.
Add or claim your Google Business Profile
Your Google Business Profile is a free listing that appears in Google Search and Maps when users search for keywords that fit your business, and it’s a crucial element in building and improving your local SEO strategy. Create or claim your Google Business Profile at https://www.google.com/intl/en_au/business/ and ensure all your business details are up to date. If you are categorised as a food and drink business on Google, offer pick-up and delivery and meet a few other basic requirements, your Google Business Profile can also display a Place an Order button so customers can easily navigate from their Google search directly to your online ordering page to place an order. It’s important to add and set your Square Online ordering page as your preferred pick-up and delivery link to drive more direct orders.
Optimise your site for search traffic
In your online ordering page settings, make sure your site and item-level titles, descriptions and metadata are optimised to match the keywords customers are searching for when seeking businesses like yours, so you rank high in search results. Follow the tips laid out in the Ultimate SEO Guide to help you optimise for the right keywords and more.
List your business on other directory sites
Listing sites are the driving force behind local SEO, since search engines know they are some of the first places customers look for local information. Add your business on listing sites like Yelp and NextDoor, and create a Facebook business page to send additional location and relevance signals to search engines.
Step 3: Build a long-term marketing strategy that drives customer loyalty
Now that you’ve announced your online ordering page and linked it with all your digital and in-store placements to drive awareness, you have a variety of options to keep customers coming back to place direct orders from you. Many of these marketing strategies only require a one-time setup and run in the background to help you continuously grow your orders.
Customise your fee settings and run special offers
You save on high commission fees every time a customer orders directly from your Square Online site instead of a third-party marketplace, so offer lower fees to customers who place direct orders or offer special discounts for orders placed on your site.
In your ‘Pickup & Delivery’ settings, set up free delivery on orders over a certain dollar amount to incentivise larger orders and in the ‘Items’ » ‘Coupons’ section of your Square Online dashboard, configure offers for first-time customers (using the ‘limit coupon per customer’ setting) or set up discounts available to all customers for a limited time.
Use marketing channels such as email and social media, and add pop-ups or banners to your ordering page to make customers aware of your offer.
Launch a loyalty program
With a Loyalty program, customers earn rewards (such as free items and discounts) on purchases that they then use on future shopping experiences, both in-person and online, encouraging them to keep coming back. Loyalty programs boost your business, and the cost of managing them is often less than the cost of acquiring new customers.
Giving customers the opportunity to order directly from you not only saves on fees from third-party delivery providers, but it also lets you own your relationships with customers and tailor your business to their needs and wants. These rich connections with regulars are what make local businesses unique. It’s simple to tap into your community and grow your revenue with a free online ordering page.