Industry News | April 6, 2009

The Right Way to Do Online Ordering

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The story of the Dotmenu corporation is like most start ups: There’s a guy. He’s in college. He has an idea.

Oh yeah, and the Internet is just beginning to take off.

But unlike a lot of start ups, Dotmenu’s numbers can’t be ignored. This isn’t your roommate’s T-shirt business. It’s an online ordering operation that partners with restaurants nationwide and not only offers an ordering platform, it brings customers to the site, too.

The company’s two Web sites, and, recently processed their 10 millionth order. Yes, that’s millionth.

Here’s how it works: If your restaurant is in a college town, you can have your menu posted on and users can order through the site and you receive a faxed or phoned-in order form. is for any restaurant (college town or not) and works the same way.

“Our main product is online ordering,” says Rob Saunders, the company’s director of marketing. “It’s a virtual food court and users see all the restaurants around and go directly to order online.”

But here’s the kicker: Posting your menu on the site is free.

Where the story really begins to take off is how Dotmenu gets online surfers to the and sites in the first place. That part costs money.

“We take the restaurant’s menu and not only put it on our site but put it everywhere,” Saunders says. “We also are very big into the social media so we’re on Facebook and now Twitter.”

They’re not only on Facebook, they’re on top of it. Of the thousands of applications on the site, Food Friendzy, an application made especially for, is ranked in the top 200 applications and has more than 100,000 users.

“What we’ve seen is that if you have a Web site and you have online ordering, without being into online marketing you’re not going to get that traffic,” he says.

And it’s that kind of traffic that’s brought the company to where it is today: the 10 million-orders milestone.

While the company started more than a decade ago, business really started taking off in the last three or four years.

“What’s happened is that restaurants are realizing that more people are doing online ordering and have high-speed access,” Saunders says. “At this point restaurants almost have to have online ordering.”

Saunders says that in light of the company’s recent achievement, the next goal is doubling it.

“At this rate we could hit 20 million orders in 2 years,” he says.

By Blair Chancey

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