Google has given restaurants the ability to receive pickup and delivery orders directly from Google Search, Maps, and the Assistant. When activated, searchers can see an “Order Online” button, view your menu, and place an order without ever leaving the search experience.

In this post, we’ll explore how this program works, answer the questions we frequently get from multi-location restaurants about it and offer some tips to help your brand make the most of Google Ordering.

What is Google Ordering for restaurants?

Google Ordering is a feature that, as of the time of publication, is available to foodservice businesses in the United States, Australia, India, Brazil, and Germany. It’s designed to make the consumer experience more seamless, enabling customers to order food from their favorite restaurants without having to click through to the restaurant’s website. Consumers can ask their Google Assistant to find a restaurant, then choose the delivery provider they wish to use.Panera Bakery Example of Google Ordering

Each restaurant location is responsible for the success of the delivery.

Consumers are hungry for convenient food ordering and delivery options, especially in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. In fact, eMarketer expects that the number of U.S. smartphone food delivery app users will rise by 25.2% to 45.6 million this year and reach 53.9 million by 2023.

People are constantly using Google search to explore the best food pickup and delivery options. In our trending keyword research conducted earlier this year, we found that Google searches for and interest in “food delivery” had exploded between February and July.

Restaurant terms popularity

Google Ordering delivers the convenience of in-app ordering without ever having to leave search and actually go into an app.

What’s the difference between Google Ordering and Uber Eats, DoorDash, or GrubHub?

When you’re on the GrubHub app, you’re competing against all of those other restaurants in the app. Success largely depends on your visibility in the app and how widely the service is used in your area.

With Google Ordering, your customer could choose to use any of those services, where available, for the delivery. The difference is in the ordering experience. 

What are the benefits and drawbacks of using Google Ordering?

We have noted in early results that it seems Google gives higher ranking and greater visibility to restaurants who use this service. This makes sense; the search engine aims to provide the best answer to searchers, so featuring locations with “Order Online” capabilities for those seeking pickup or delivery meals enables Google to provide an experience that searcher is likely to appreciate.

Order online button example

On the flip side, this is another example of Google acting as a transactional layer between businesses and their customers. Google wants to keep visitors inside its own ecosystem, so if your preference is to have people order from your site, you could lose traffic.

Google is the biggest search engine out there so not having a strategy in place to capture that traffic could be a missed opportunity. However, with a 1.5% fee per order (excluding any credit card processing fees), the margins have to make sense. Because of this, what makes sense for one brand may not be the best decision for another.

Smart Google Ordering Strategy Tips for Restaurant Brands

Food delivery apps have taken a bite out of restaurant margins that were already slim to begin with. There may be additional costs and reduced revenue with delivery, as well, with additional packaging/delivery costs and less opportunity to upsell. What’s more, Google Ordering and DoorDash alike want to get restaurants into their ecosystem, where you will forever be competing against whatever other options are in that ecosystem.

Relying on these external services on an ongoing basis, whether Google Ordering or dealing directly with a delivery app, may come with a greater cost than your brand can bear.

Consider using these sources as lead generators, instead. 

For example, it may make sense to give away the margin on the first order with a new customer if you could then convert them to a direct booking. You might try charging higher prices for delivery app menu items, implementing delivery charges, or offering discounts for pickup or direct order. 

If you decide that online ordering with Google or another service is not right for your restaurant brand, it is important that you are still able to offer convenience and ease of use to customers wishing to order online for pickup or delivery. 

Jimmy John’s is a great example of this, with its “Freaky Fast, Freaky Fresh” delivery promise. The sandwich brand will accept orders online or by phone, but only delivers within 5 minutes of any location:

Learn more about Google Ordering: