Online Ordering vs Call-In Orders: Which One is Right For Your Restaurant?

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online ordering versus manual ordering

It’s 2022, and restaurants must understand that they need to embrace the digital age exactly like Gen-Z embraces any new Korean boy band. Consumers have dived headfirst into this new age of convenience where they can get their favorite foods with a few taps on their phones. 

Dining in and calling restaurants has become old school; people prefer to stay at home, put on their favorite show, and eat to their heart’s content. 

If you are a restaurant owner and have only been doing call-in orders for delivery or takeaway, you may be curious about the advantages of online orders. 

Some restaurants have a loyal customer base that stuck to ordering over the phone even during the multiple COVID-19 lockdowns. However, they need to understand that online ordering has many advantages, one of which is increasing that loyal customer base. 

This is not to say that call-in ordering is obsolete or should be eliminated. Some people still like to call and place their orders; therefore, a call-in service should always be available, but it’s high time restaurants became a part of the digital revolution. 

Accepting the newer technology as a restaurateur ensures that your business and your customers both get exactly what you want. This blog post explains the difference between online ordering and call-in ordering to help you make smart decisions about your business. 

Listed below are several reasons to help restaurateurs understand why call-in orders have become a thing of the past and why customers and restaurants alike prefer online ordering. 

Fewer Errors

a torn paper written with inscription error on a blue background

When customers place call-in orders, there’s much room for error as manually inputting order details can result in missing some information or jotting it down wrong. 

There might not be major mistakes, but your staff can take down the wrong meal size or misunderstand some special instructions. The errors can also include taking wrong information from customers, including location, pick-up or drop-off times, or other details, which can be frustrating for both the consumers and the staff. 

Just getting one piece of information wrong can be frustrating for your customers, resulting in losing out on revenue. 

Whereas when customers place their orders online, they are responsible for their order details to see and select the menu for themselves. They add their details and can review them before placing their order. 

Online orders reduce the risk of staff messing up any orders due to cracked phone lines or confusion over any written details because everything is displayed on their screens. 

Where phone calls increase the likelihood of delivering wrong orders, online orders decrease it. 

Online orders also save staff and customers from pointing fingers at each other when an order goes wrong. You no longer have to deal with the headaches of the classic he-said/she-said arguments. If an online order goes wrong, follow the data and save the time you’d otherwise have spent arguing. 

Customer Convenience

Online ordering allows customers to place orders from anywhere with an internet connection. Even if they don’t have enough signals for a phone call, they can easily place orders from their mobiles. 

They can order food from a bus or train and be assured their food will get home in time. Many food ordering platforms allow customers to place their food orders without having to refill their personal information every time. 

Some food ordering systems even have their favorite orders and order history stored, so they have an easier time ordering each time they log into their account. Modern browsers and apps even save passwords and credit card information, making online ordering effortless for customers, whereas phone-call ordering does not provide this convenience. 

When ordering on the phone, customers have to verbally read out their order menu their 16 digit credit card number and repeat it all over if there is even one mistake. Call-in orders have privacy concerns, and the inconvenience of repeating your info over and over causes customers to avoid making phone calls and prefer online orders. 

Greater Efficiency

Restaurant staff has many tasks to handle during their shift, and you might think it doesn’t take much time to answer phone calls and take orders. Restaurants want their workers to be busy at all times with cooking, cleaning, looking after customers, and providing them fantastic service. 

However, when call-in orders come through all day long, staff members can get pretty tied up with taking orders, making this a full-time job. Making call-in orders is a distraction from other jobs and tying up time that could be spent using other jobs in the restaurant. 

While online orders are sent into your system, they don’t make the phones ring and distract your staff members. Online orders are quickly gone over, and staff members rapidly get to cooking it.

Online orders help free up time and allow your staff to dedicate that time to the dine-in customers. Online ordering automates all the manual processes of taking orders, improving staff productivity and efficiency. 

Cost Effectiveness

Customers usually have a set menu in mind before placing their calls when ordering on the phone. Whereas when food is ordered on an app or online on the restaurant’s website, typically some recommendations pop up, and customers can be swayed to order more than they had in mind.

Some software allows recommendations to be paired with amazing pictures of food that pop up and cause customers to reconsider their menu. This helps improve sales and sells more items which would be very hard to do over the phone. 

Recommending upsells over the phone is an option, but your customers can feel bombarded and might make them reconsider ordering with you again. Also, recommending upsells requires staff to be trained, which means more working hours, which also adds to ordering process time. 

Faster Order Fulfilment

People like to be sure of their options before they place an order, so phone conversations can get long when customers try to double-check their order and if they’ve made the right food choice. Asking a dozen questions from the staff members responsible for cooking delays order and delivery time. 

Whereas when placing orders online, customers have their options available to them on their pc or phone screens, making it easier for them to choose from, which means fewer delays in food preparation and delivery. 

This also means the cook and staff are less distracted, and dine-in customers are getting a fast and amazing service. 

Contactless Processes

Most restaurants are used to receiving orders over the phone, but payments are primarily taken in person once the order is picked up. Inherently, this process involves the risk of people not showing up after ordering and corresponding loss of food, effort, and sales revenue. 

In addition, this process also now involves other risks in the post-COVID-19 era. Given the stress people have gone through during the last few years, people are expected to avoid close contact wherever possible. As a result, customers are expected to continue their habits of avoiding shared objects, such as receipts and credit cards. 

Online food ordering resolves these issues for both customers and restaurants, allowing them to avoid contact where possible, and letting restaurants minimize risks with no-shows and lost sales. 

Customers can order online and arrive just in time for collection, picking up their food from designated areas or counters without waiting at the restaurant and increasing the potential risk of transmission. Not just COVID-19, this way of order management also helps against other more common transmissible diseases such as the flu, which significantly impact both customers and restaurant staff. 

Restaurant staff taking sick days off can result in significant time loss, along with scheduling and staffing issues, which create significant concerns for owners and impact customer experience.

Easy Transaction Processes 

Having a digital record of all transactions saves hassle for both restaurant owners and customers, giving them the ability to securely obtain transaction receipts online if needed. Especially when restaurants are getting hundreds of orders, an online ordering system helps keep an accurate track of all the transactions and saves staff the time to manually go over cash registers. 

Customers will also appreciate that they have a secure, digital record of the transaction emailed to them, so they don’t have to deal with a paper copy. And your front-of-house won’t miss the steps of passing pens and paper receipts back and forth.

Plus, because customers can see right away how much they paid when they check out online, there’s little chance that they’ll show up and dispute order details.

Better customer Retention 

Loyalty programs and other customer relationship management features make a huge difference in your restaurant’s ability to keep revenue consistent throughout the year. 

If you can consistently collect your patrons’ contact information, you can reach out to them to let them know about special events, offers, and menu news throughout the year. 

Although the modern point of sale systems sometimes allow customers to enroll in a loyalty program when they check out in person, it is practically effortless when customers check out online. 

They will have already filled in their personal and contact information as part of the order process, so opting to be contacted about special deals is often as simple as checking an additional box. Even a relatively small boost in the rate of opt-ins into the loyalty program can yield big returns over time. 

Online ordering also allows restaurants to retain customers through other customer relationship management features, including promo codes for certain customers, sending in notifications on the app about deals and promotions, and giving customers the option to leave feedback about their orders. 

Call-In Ordering Advantage: Covering the Phones is Crucial for Customer Experience

Regardless of how tech-savvy your customer base is or how easy you make it for people to order their food online, you should still ensure that the phone is always answered during business hours.

Some people will simply feel more comfortable ordering over the phone, and others will have to call in with questions that aren’t directly related to a food order.

It’s usually well worth making sure that someone can handle phone calls live, even as you encourage your customers to order their meals online.


The world had already shifted towards online ordering before the COVID-19 pandemic hit us. From the number of reasons given above, it’s easy to understand why restaurants should have an online ordering platform. 

From customer convenience to increased revenue, online ordering seems to provide it with all. Consumers now expect all restaurants to have online order services and tend to be put off if they make phone calls. 

Restaurants should ensure they provide online ordering services to avoid losing important customers to their competition. This doesn’t mean call-in orders should be ditched, as some customers still prefer call-in orders and some customers like to check in about their online orders via phone calls.  

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