What’s the hardest thing to sell online?

From the creation of this blog, we’ve been talking about the merit of using new social media to further business operations, no matter what kind of business it may be. But if one cares to stop and think about the implications of that, one would realize that there are some business types wherein the use of online resources would prove harder to accomplish than many others. Still, the following examples we have in this post have made it work – selling their items online, that is.

Selling Edibles

Ordering from food establishments from the comforts of our home – this is something that has been made possible by the use of telephones and food hotlines (911-1111 anyone?). But if one thinks about it, really, who are the people most likely to have food regularly delivered to their places anyway? Not the average households, surely, but student dormitories and pads – which, more often than not – do not have the luxury of enjoying private landlines. Most of the time, student pads do not have landlines connected to their rooms, and would instead have to go to the dormitory office to make a call. That’s good and all, but just imagine this scenario: it’s 10:30 pm, and the office is already closed. The mall closest to the pad has already closed, and there’s no more food in the kitchen. Your mobile phone has no more load, and the only communications device available to you is your laptop. You’re extremely hungry. What do you do?

Why, you order food online, of course!

In the Philippines, I know of three fast food establishments which provide online ordering services: PizzaHut, McDonald’s and Shakey’s. I’ve tried PizzaHut and McDonald’s, and I can say that I was very satisfied with their services. I am still looking for an opportunity to try Shakey’s, but I heard from a very credible source that their service is also satisfactory.

I’m not going to discuss the process of ordering food online from these food establishments in detail, but I’m going to give you a general idea:

  • First, you have to go to the website of the fast food you want to order from. Links can be found in the section above.
  • Sign up for a free account to access the online ordering service. This is optional for Pizza Hut and McDonald’s, but mandatory for Shakey’s.
  • Place your order.
  • Fill up the necessary details: Your name, Address and Contact Info, so they can confirm your order.
  • Note: Don’t worry if you don’t have a landline. Just enter your mobile number, and they will call you there, no charge to you.
  • Another note: if you don’t have a phone… well, I’m not sure how McDonald’s and Shakey’s will proceed with that, but PizzaHut will send you an email asking you to confirm your order. If you confirm by email, they will no longer call you.
  • Take note of the total amount you have to pay. You have the option of indicating how much money you’re going to pay, so that the delivery person can bring the right change.
  • Take note of the time and ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival).
  • Receive your order/s and pay for them. Get your change if you have any.
  • Enjoy your food~!

Now, online food delivery seems like such a pretty straightforward service, so why is it such a hard thing to do? The hard part comes not from the service itself, but from the customers – or more specifically, in attracting customers to avail of this service. The thing is, with the [over]saturation of fast food places in Metro Manila, people hardly need to use online delivery as a means of getting their food, specially not while there’s a fast food place within walking distance [or jeepney-riding distance, hoho]. Online delivery then, just becomes a last resort when all else fails – again, as was the scenario in our example earlier. Still, the fact that it [still] exists means that there are people who make use of the service – enough that these establishments are still making use of it and have not deemed it unnecessary.

I suppose another reason why not many people make use of the service is that not many know that it exists. I, myself, would not have been made aware that Pizza Hut offered online delivery if not for that annoying, random pop up ad that I accidentally clicked. And had it not been for Pizza Hut, I would have never wondered if other pizza places, like Shakey’s, also offered online delivery (and just imagine my surprise when I found out they did). McDo, of course, has ads about its McDelivery service, but why have it delivered if you can just pop into the McDo that’s only a tricycle ride away?

Still, I believe that having this service is an advantage, specially since times are rapidly changing. It may be that today, people are still not used to using this service, but it also very well may be that in the future, online delivery will be the norm. Judging from the way things are heading, it’s not such a far-fetched idea. So kudos to these establishments, and I hope that the others will also start utilizing the web for selling food.

And yes, I’m talking about you, Jollibee.

  1. I consider established brands selling online might not have the same difficulty as the small time or new online entrepreneurs. Since they have already image and reputation, we assume that they are going to do things that would only make their reputation better.

    The concept of selling online already entails delayed delivery unlike when buying from an actual shop in the mall. And as for foods, considering this scenario and adding that the fact that the product is perishable doesn’t encourage much point of sale.

    • True, but I remember I was writing this just after (or maybe more accurately while I was) watching this futuristic show/movie wherein humans didn’t have to go out of their houses anymore and just had to “plug” themselves to their robotic counterparts so those could do their work for them. And of course, there was a robotic upheaval against humans, yadda yadda. But I was thinking, what if we were able to do that for products and services… like have them just be delivered to you from a click of a button? Isn’t it interesting to see that work, how communication trends would have to evolve? Maybe it’s not so feasible in the Philippines right now for all types of business, but maybe someday…

    • gj
    • October 2nd, 2010

    Haaha. just the other day i was tryin to get food delivered from McDo’s website but there was this glitch in the page that no matter how many times i ticked boxes, filled them up, and laid out my choices, i end up with a blank order. Thus, I ended up reaching for the phone. It was a total waste of time.

    • XD That happened to me with pizzahut. That was the same time where they sent me an email because they couldn’t call my homephone. They had to confirm if I wanted to make three separate orders, and I was glad to clear that with them. XD Sometimes the McDo website gets stuck / sticky, and the picture of the food doesn’t go away even when you’ve scrolled away. They really need to fix that if they want their servive to be more popular. owo

      Hope it works out for us better next time..?

  1. September 23rd, 2010

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