Google has given restaurants the ability to receive pickup and delivery orders directly from Google Maps, Search, 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 restaurant operators make the most of Google Food Ordering.

What is Google Food Ordering for restaurants?

Google Food Ordering is a feature that, at the time of publication, is available to foodservice businesses in the United States, Australia, India, Brazil, and Germany. It’s designed to make food ordering a seamless experience, 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 a frictionless ordering experience and convenient delivery options. In fact, eMarketer expects that the number of U.S. smartphone food delivery mobile 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 and Maps to explore the best food pickup and delivery options. Google Trends shows food delivery interest in the U.S. contains to remain strong, despite more people feeling comfortable returning to in-door dining again.

Google Trends Data

Trends data for the search term “food delivery”

Google Food 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 Food 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 restaurant owners who use this service. This makes sense; the search engine aims to provide the best answer to searchers, so featuring locations with its “Order Online” digital experience for those seeking pickup or delivery meals aligns with its goal to provide an optimal consumer experience.

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% commission fee per order (excluding any credit card processing fees), the margins have to make sense. Because of this, what makes sense for one individual restaurant brand may not be the best decision for another.

Smart Google Food Ordering Strategy Tips for Growth-Minded Restaurants

Food delivery apps have taken a bite out of restaurant margins, which have struggled over the past few years. Third-party fees and reduced revenue with delivery, as well, with additional packaging/delivery costs and less opportunity to upsell. What’s more, Google Food 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 Food Ordering or dealing directly with a delivery third-party 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 food items, implementing delivery charges, or offering discounts for pickup or direct order. 

If you decide that online ordering with Google or other delivery solutions 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 Food Ordering: