What is Online Food Ordering?

wiseGEEK Writer

Online food ordering could be called the response of the Internet to the desire for delivery food. It is a growing trend especially in urban areas and on college campuses that allows people to order from restaurants featuring interactive menus, by use of their Internet connection. In many cases, any Internet capable device that can handle complicated web pages can be used to make orders, though a lot of people rely on a desktop or laptop computer for this. A second definition of online food ordering is that it is ordering from grocery stores to stock the kitchen, instead of placing one time orders with a restaurant.

Online food ordering usually allows customers to pay for their food using a credit card, and then the restaurant delivers it directly to their home or office.
Online food ordering usually allows customers to pay for their food using a credit card, and then the restaurant delivers it directly to their home or office.

There are several ways in which online food ordering from a restaurant may occur. A restaurant can have its own website with easy features for placing an order for pick-up or delivery. Some add a third option of being able to make reservations. Instead of calling for a delivery, people just access the Internet, head to the restaurant site and make their order.

College students and young adults are some of the more frequent online food customers.
College students and young adults are some of the more frequent online food customers.

Alternately, one online food ordering site may feature the menus of many different restaurants. This way, customers can browse through the menus, weighing thing like preference, cost, and others, and determine what they want to order. Two things can occur here: the online site may offer food delivery and pick up food ordered from the restaurant, usually assessing some form of delivery fee, or it may deliver the order via Internet or phone to the chosen restaurant, which then prepares and delivers the food. The latter scenario is more likely, but there are food delivery services that specialize in picking up from any participating restaurant.

People who order food online often don’t have to keep menus on hand.
People who order food online often don’t have to keep menus on hand.

There are several advantages to online food ordering. It’s usually possible to pay over the Internet and payment may be more secure than reading out a credit card number to someone on the other end of a phone. People who order a lot don’t have to keep menus on hand and have the full menu to look at when they’re making choices. There’s also a record of what was ordered, which may make it easier to lodge a complaint if necessary. Of course the very nature of food delivery is that it is convenient too.

More online food ordering has caused an increase in the need for delivery personnel.
More online food ordering has caused an increase in the need for delivery personnel.

Some of the disadvantages some people cite include that online food ordering software may track purchases and distribute personal information to many different restaurants. Going through a third party delivery service could sometimes result in errors that are hard to fix. More often, people complain because online ordering is geographically limited and smaller towns might have very little access to this convenient feature, unless they are college towns.

Some people might prefer to shop in a store rather than online, so they choose their own products.
Some people might prefer to shop in a store rather than online, so they choose their own products.

The second type of online food ordering is really a throwback to the days when many grocery stores delivered food regularly. There are now sites, either big company sales sites or grocery stores, that allow people to shop online, and this can be very convenient. It is not as good for the very careful shopper who likes to feel produce, check the integrity of boxes and read all the dates on the merchandise, but it can be a very good solution for people who are busy and don’t have time to get the groceries. Again, this form of online food ordering may be limited to certain areas.

Many pizza restaurants offer online food ordering and delivery.
Many pizza restaurants offer online food ordering and delivery.

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Discussion Comments

Sporkasia

On line food ordering is convenient when everything goes as planned. However, on more than one occasion, I have gone through the process of making my order online only to find there is no record of my order when I reach the restaurant.

Even more of an inconvenience is placing a delivery order that is supposed to arrive in 30 minutes and you find yourself still waiting for the food 45 minutes later. Then when you call about the order, you find that not only is the food not on the way, but there is no record of an order being placed. The same thing has happened to me when I've made reservations online.

Drentel

The only way I order pizza now is from my computer. I used to spend five minutes going over the specials and various food menu items with someone from the pizza restaurant via the phone. Now I avoid that and just click on my selections and then go pick up the order.

Animandel

Trying to order food over the telephone can be a hassle. Sometimes the person on the other end of the conversation can't hear me because of the background noise coming from the restaurant. Sometimes I feel rushed because the person taking the order seems to have little patience with my questions

When I order food online, I don't have to worry about these annoyances. I can take as much time as I need, and all the menu items are on my screen or a click away. I haven't tried to buy food online from a grocery store yet, but I love the idea of not having to go shopping for groceries.

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