4 keys to increasing online ticket averages through suggestive selling
Perhaps you've read the studies. Certainly you've heard it from online ordering providers. Restaurants embrace online ordering in part because ticket averages are higher. But is this pure magic? Do customers automatically order more just because they are ordering online? Is it guaranteed to work for your restaurant?
The answer is partly yes, customers do naturally order more online because they have time to browse, to review the entire menu, and to order at their own pace. Online ticket averages are often higher because there is a common tendency for more of your largest and more complex orders, those business and catering orders, to be placed online.
So yes, you will likely see higher online ticket averages no matter what. But to maximize this benefit be sure to take advantage of the suggestive selling tools available in your online system. Here's a few to consider.
1. Appealing images improve sales
According to a 2012 Technomic study, 90 percent of consumers say that visual food appeal is an important or very important factor influencing fast casual food purchases. When customers order online, appealing images of your food help to stimulate the appetite. Take every opportunity to present pictures, and make sure that your food is presented in the best possible way with well-staged, well lit and consistent photographs.
2. Suggest item enhancements
One of the most profitable ways to boost online ticket averages is to suggest add-ons for each item. Take a look through your online menu and try to ensure that every item has an option for an upsell or addition to the item itself. Adding chicken, or avocado to salads, add extra cheese or double toppings to pizza, even adding extra dipping sauce choices to your wings, are popular and easy ways for customers to indulge. Small add-ons may be inexpensive and thus easy for a customer to justify, but if you regularly add 50 cents or $1 to an entree item, you'll notice a big impact over the course of the year. Studies show that customers lose their inhibitions when ordering online and are much more likely to pile on toppings or extras — as long as you make it easy for them.
3. Suggest item accompaniments
Every item that is available on your menu should have a complement. If you order a sandwich, you want to add fries or chips. If you order an entree, add a baked potato. If you order pizza, you'll definitely want to add a drink or a family-sized salad. A good online ordering system will let you set up these combinations and will effectively present these options to the customer, as they are selecting their items. Intelligent systems even pick from several possible complements, based on what the customer has or has not already ordered. By providing these natural suggestions throughout the ordering process, you are introducing customers to items they may be unaware of, and reminding them of some of their favorites.
4. Final order review upsell
When the customer chooses to check out, it's a great opportunity to review their order and make a final suggestion for any items they may have forgotten. If they have not included a drink, appetizer or dessert, a small prompt at the end of the order will encourage them to do so.
Unlike a harried employee who may forget to mention your new products, your weekly specials or your suggested upsells, your online ordering system is always consistent and reliable. Once you set up a solid suggestive selling plan, you can count on the system to execute correctly for every order. So make sure you are taking advantage of the power of upselling in your online ordering system, and watch those ticket averages increase!
Duessa Holscher / Ive been passionate about pizza technology since my start in 1994. Since then Ive worked in marketing and development for several pizza tech firms, founded FireFly Technologies, and now work as Marketing Director at Granbury Restaurant Solutions.