The following guide is designed for readers to learn about the advantages restaurants that accept online orders have, how to prepare your business to begin accepting orders online, the most popular restaurant ordering systems on the market, plus answers to questions commonly received.
Covered in this guide:
- Introduction to Online Food Ordering
- Benefits of Accepting Online Orders
- How-to Set Up Your Restaurant for Online Orders
- Step 1: Prepare Restaurant
- Step 2: Choose an Online Ordering System
- Step 3: Create Your Online Menu
- Step 4: Make a Decision on Delivery
- Step 5: Educate Customers
- Restaurant Online Ordering FAQs
Introduction to Ordering Food Online
When it comes to the reopening of restaurants, the most noticeable difference is a greater emphasis on health and safety. In certain locations, heightened health precautions are a government-mandated requirement.
Because of these mandates and changes in consumer behavior, technology has proved to be an invaluable resource for restaurants.
In fact, technology has kept the sector afloat over the last year or two. From QR code-based menus to Curbside pickup and online ordering apps, these technologies are proving to continue to be helpful to restaurants post-epidemic. Restaurants that are more technologically oriented, simply do better than those that are not.
Restaurants, from low- to high-volume venues alike, are utilizing these technological advances to simplify online ordering and provide a more satisfying dining experience.
Continue reading to discover the benefits for restaurants that accept online orders, how to prepare your business, the top online ordering systems and apps, plus answers to frequently asked questions.
8 Benefits of Accepting Online Orders for Restaurants
You’ve probably already considered many of the ways your restaurant will benefit from being able to process online orders, but perhaps there are some other advantages you’ve yet to realize.
#1 Commission-Free Pricing
With MenuLabs’ flat-rate monthly pricing, you keep more of your profits. Try our free calculator to see how much we can save you.
Note: Each company that provides an online ordering system is structured differently when it comes to pricing.
#2 Improved Customer Experience
Serve more customers, more quickly and convert more website visitors into patrons – boosting repeat business.
#3 Effortless Management
Track each order as it’s received and its status. Easily update menu items, prices, and customer alerts in real-time.
#4 Increase Average Order Ticket Amount
Because customers have more time to browse your menu and real-time integration allows you to quickly create upsell opportunities, individual order amounts can go up.
#5 Reduce Time Spent Take Orders Over the Phone
With a robust website ordering system, you put the customer back in charge – allowing them to customize their orders and reducing the staff requirements needed for taking orders over the phone.
#6 Prevent Costly Miscommunications
Often, with complex and large food orders, mistakes can be made. Ordering online can prevent restaurant staff entering the wrong menu item or charging the wrong amount. Likewise, patrons can review an itemized list to ensure their order is correct before paying.
#7 Expand Your Restaurant into The Parking Lot with Curbside Pickup
Further improve customer’s experience by giving them online ordering, and the convenience of curbside pickup. This allows your customers to enjoy restaurant-quality meals in the comfort of their own home.
#8 Own Your Customer Data and use it to Grow
Utilize order counts, ticket amounts, and total sales, among other customer data analytics, to plan for your restaurant’s future – expansion, hiring, food orders, and more!
How-to Set Up Your Restaurant to Accept Online Orders
One of the first steps to taking online orders is to organize and prepare your restaurant. When you have the right infrastructure in place, you’ll want to choose a restaurant ordering service, bring your website up to snuff, and market your new order processing option to educate existing and new customers.
Step 1: Prepare Your Restaurant & Staff
Making sure your restaurant is ready to begin processing and fulfilling online orders is the most vital step in offering internet ordering service.
Read each of the following considerations closely and think about which changes are needed to get your restaurant prepared.
Consider how you want guests to move around the restaurant, bearing in mind that you’ll be getting a lot more orders for takeout, while maintaining social distancing requirements.
Train your front-of-house workers to manage this flow by checking in with clients and keeping them informed about the progress of their orders.
Optimize Your Kitchen
The next step in getting your restaurant ready to accept online orders is to make sure your kitchen is ready to handle a new ordering interface, an increase in orders, and how to prep said orders without disrupting the current workflow.
You may be able to integrate online orders into your current line, especially for restaurants that currently provide to-go orders, or you may need to create a distinct space for preparing and packaging online and pick-up orders.
You should also think about how delivery orders will be picked up. If you don’t want the arrival and departure of delivery personnel to disrupt patrons, designate a distinct entrance or waiting area for takeaway orders.
Designated Takeout & Pickup Area
If possible, create a designated waiting area for pickup customers and delivery drivers. Try to minimize bottlenecks and provide adequate social distance during your peak hours.
A waiting room should be located away from the main flow of foot traffic in your restaurant.
Prepare & Train Staff
Any adjustments to your restaurant’s workflow needs staff brought up to speed. Employees should know about the new procedures related to providing online purchases, including how to handle curbside pickup and delivery.
Streamline online order pickups from customers and drivers by directing them to the designated waiting area. Make sure your signage also advises those waiting to consider standing or sitting at a safe distance from others.
Step 2: Choose an Online Ordering System
Before you can create your online menu and launch the ordering system, you must choose which service or software you want to go with.
When researching third-party companies to manage your restaurant’s online ordering, the main differentiator is whether the service charges a commission per order or a flat service fee. As mentioned, MenuLabs is a non-commission option with a flat-fee structure.
Restaurant Online Ordering Service Providers
Below we take a closer look at the most popular restaurant ordering management software, the companies behind the tech, and each system’s features.
MenuLabs is an all encompassing solution for generating and maintaining menus across all restaurant locations, platforms, devices, and ordering channels.
With a mobile-friendly ordering platform that’s customized to your brand, you can start accepting orders for carryout and curbside delivery right from your existing website.
Apple and Google Pay make it simple for customers to pay for their orders and automatic alerts notify them when their order is available for pickup or when it will be delivered.
Built-in reporting lets clients learn more about customer insights and how they interact with menu items, so that decisions about operations are data-driven.
- No commission or hidden fees
- Own your customer data
- Setup included
- Seamless integration on mobile devices
- Takeout and curbside pickup
- Commission-free delivery
- Tailored to your brand
- Order throttling
- Adjustable delivery times
- Real-time menu and customer updates
Menufy offers digital menus on its client websites and in its app, from which consumers may pay using standard payment methods.
Menufy is a basic, but effective online ordering integration tool for restaurant owners.
The company creates a free online ordering website for client’s based on the restaurant’s branding and adds your menu and photos for you at no additional charge.
- Free website for online ordering
- Commission-free ordering
- Delivery service fee of 12.5%
- Multiple payment customer payment options
- Order notifications
- Menu manager dashboard
MenuDrive works to drive new traffic to client’s websites, convert those new visitors to consumers, and keep them coming back for more with a complete array of marketing tools.
Their services provide smart, easy online ordering and delivery that prioritizes client’s customers.
MenuDrive delivers real-time sales data, delivery notifications, and coupon engagement, among other reports to address potential problem areas and evaluate operations.
- Curbside carryout, pickup, or delivery
- Intuitive ordering interface
- Customer pickup/delivery time
- Coupon manager
- Loyalty and rewards tools
- Customer feedback and reviews
- Order and close-of-business reporting
GloriaFood thinks that foodies should have a fantastic ordering experience when it comes to their delivery and that this can be accomplished without exploiting restaurants by imposing hefty commission charges on each order.
Client’s customers can use GloriaFood’s free online food ordering system to purchase menu items directly from the restaurant’s website.
Engaging with prospective consumers on Facebook is a popular feature used to increase brand visibility and boost sales.
- Zero commissions
- Unlimited online orders
- Facebook smart links
- Smartphone order management
- Multilocation support
- Delivery area geo-fence
- End-of-day reports
Restolabs helps clients to create a frictionless, on-demand ordering experience for their restaurant; complete with contactless eating and curbside pickup.
With their user-friendly editor, clients can take control of their online business, personalizing all elements of ordering with a few clicks – creating a menu, choosing delivery zones, and establishing business hours.
When a customer places an order, the client’s order management device receives a message and keeps customers notified of the projected delivery time.
- Easy to use and configure menu
- Responsive interface for mobile devices
- Real-time order notifications
- Delivery manager
- Multilingual front-end
- Facebook ordering
- Inventory tracking
- Order throttle
BentoBox offers websites for restaurants, online ordering, gift cards, and more all under one roof.
Maintaining brand consistency across all digital contact points is a key feature, along with hassle-free customer checkout.
This service provider also offers tools to help convert more sales, including automated email marketing and loyalty programs, plus visitor and customer information collection.
- Own your customer data
- Optimized for conversions
- Built-in marketing automation
- Real-time inventory updates
- Express checkout
- Loyalty program
Popmenu has always been about listening to restaurants, understanding their issues, and addressing them via technology and empathy.
They work to increase client’s internet income without jeopardizing customer relationships or potential earnings.
Furthermore, Popmenu understands that direct ordering establishes a more personal connection with customers and offers tools for collection of guest contact information so that future offers and notifications can be sent through email, SMS, and social media marketing.
- Curbside pickup, in-house delivery, and partner delivery options
- Marketing automation tools
- Special event menus
- Gift cards
- Ghost kitchen direct ordering
ChowNow believes that restaurants are at their best when they concentrate their efforts on cuisine and service excellence. They believe that these actions, whether in the kitchen making meals or welcoming clients at the front entrance, are what define a restaurant.
With this simple online order system for restaurants, client’s can make their website work harder and drive more revenue.
Menu pictures and a mobile-friendly platform are just a few of the many features that make ChowNow a good solution.
- Customer relationship tools
- Customer membership program
- Retain customer data
- Marketing tools
- 24/7 customer support
- Delivery, dine-in, or pickup options
#9 Toast POS
Toast POS’ mission to improve the culinary experience with their all-in-one platform created specifically for restaurants.
Toast integrates staff, operations, and guests with a dependable, user-friendly interface; allowing restaurateurs to be better informed in a fast changing hospitality sector.
Allowing visitors to request pickup or delivery directly from clients and commission-free transactions allows clients to own their guest connections and be more profitable.
- Commission-free online ordering
- Own your guest data and relationship
- POS integration
- Seamless ordering experience
- Commission-free delivery
- Convenient payment options
- Order throttle
- Easy menu management
iMenu360 assists restaurants all around the globe keep their profit margins healthy, while avoiding costly third-party service fees.
Their specialized customer service staff is available to clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They also work with clients to increase sales and expand business activities.
Clients can accept online and mobile orders and acquire vital consumer data for future marketing efforts. Cutting-edge technology is packed with capabilities that work seamlessly with client’s existing POS systems.
- Menu setup assistance
- POS integration
- Coupon manager
- Loyalty program
- 24/7 customer service
- Delivery area geo-fence
- Order dashboard
- Customer feedback and surveys
Step 3: Create Your Online Menu
One thing to consider when creating your takeout or delivery menu is to avoid foods that do not travel well, ie. does it tend to get soggy. This is crucial to make sure you deliver a great experience to your customer.
While the process for creating and publishing your online menu will differ depending on the service provider you choose, the process is generally the same. Which includes:
- Giving menu items an official name
- Adding a short description
- Uploading a picture
- Categorizing the item
- Create optional modifiers and add-ons
With MenuLabs, you can create a digital menu with your logo that works perfectly on any mobile device or desktop computer.
MenuLabs also helps customers import menu items, modifiers, prices, and branding to build digital menus for websites, QR codes, and ordering methods; among other useful tools.
Next you’ll want to sync, connect, and publish your menus across your web-based properties, which is another feature of MenuLabs. With MenuLabs you can automatically update hundreds of the web’s most popular restaurant listings and apps to eliminate redundant information and promote your latest offers.
Step 4: Make a Decision On Delivery
Whether you decide to offer delivery or not is a choice you’ll need to make. Regardless, your online ordering system will work for pickups and curbside orders, but if you want to deliver, you can use a third party delivery app or provide in-house delivery. Keep reading to learn about a new option On-Demand Delivery from MenuLabs.
Third Party Delivery
Getting your business on Uber Eats or GrubHub seems like a no-brainer when it comes to optimizing your revenues, especially in light of the COVID-19 epidemic. However, with third-party delivery apps, including DoorDash, Postmates, and Caviar, it’s more about whether your business can afford to pay the fees.
Delivery apps, like the aforementioned, should be included in what restaurants do to market their businesses, as they can attract customers that otherwise may not have ordered in the first place.
However, if you’re paying up to 30 percent in fees, third party delivery services shouldn’t be your restaurant’s main method of driving online sales.
The alternative to outsourcing deliveries to another company is to handle online orders entirely in-house. This often entails integrating online ordering into a POS and existing website, as well as staffing delivery drivers to fulfill orders.
By creating your own online food ordering system, you will be able to sell your chosen menu items without the requirement for a third-party service or the payment of a commission per order.
You get to utilize your own staff to fulfill orders when you hire in-house delivery drivers. This means you know your drivers and form bonds with them. You may also hold them more readily responsible for the level of service customers receive than you could with a third party driver.
Third party delivery companies take a significant percentage of your earnings. Which means that, in general, in-house delivery drivers are less costly.
Don’t want the added headache of handling deliveries on your own. You need a trusted partner and that is why we teamed up with DoorDash to offer you a streamlined experience, complete with order tracking. Contact us today to learn more about how our system works.
Step 5: Educate Customers of ordering options
Great cuisine is simply one component of a successful restaurant. Successful restaurants not only create culinary magic in the kitchen, but also develop a client experience that encourages return business.
When it comes to educating existing customers about a new ordering system, restaurant managers have several options.
The first is to make website visitors aware of the change. From there, updating followers on social media channels and even running paid advertising campaigns can help get the job done.
Adding signage inside your restaurant is also a great way to make patrons aware of their ordering options.
Restaurant Online Ordering FAQs
While you’ll find the answers to many of the most common questions restaurant owners have about launching an online payment gateway and system, there are undoubtedly more. If you cannot find the answer you seek, please reach out to a MenuLabs representative for further assistance.
What is an Online Food Ordering System?
An online food ordering system is software that enables restaurants to accept and handle orders sent over the internet.The majority of online ordering systems include two key components. The first is a website or mobile app that allows hungry consumers to browse a menu and make an online order. The second feature is an administrative administration interface that allows restaurants to accept and handle client orders.
To perform properly, the consumer purchasing a website or app will often have many critical prerequisites. These are the requirements:
- All devices, from tablets to PCs, are compatible.
- Search the restaurant’s menu to discover what’s on offer.
- Choose if they want their order delivered or picked up.
- They may choose when they want their order to arrive.
- Make payments online with a credit card, a bank transfer, or another method.
- Keep track of the status of any orders they’ve made.
- View all of their previous orders and easily reorder their favorites.
What Makes For a Good Restaurant Online Ordering System?
The online ordering system you use should be a natural extension of your brand or business. When doing business online, it should provide your consumers with an easy, stress-free experience.
You’ll notice that the better systems provide you a variety of customization possibilities. This includes the ability to add your company name and/or change the color of the interface.
When it comes to selecting an online ordering system for your restaurant, another factor to consider is cost. Flat fees or commission in the form of a percentage of each sale.
The ability to gather client data may provide you with useful information. The age range, location, best-selling goods, and top sources of orders should be accessible.
Your online ordering software should be created by a company that also provides support and maintenance.
Another essential factor that helps encourage customers to buy is an engaging user interface.
How Much Does a Restaurant Online Ordering System Cost?
The top-of-the-line restaurant online ordering applications are adaptable, enabling businesses to increase sales without losing money and expand as their requirements evolve. When it comes to restaurant online ordering service pricing, there are several solutions to consider.
Will you accept pick-up-only or delivery-only online orders?
Will you utilize in-house drivers or third-party drivers to deliver orders?
Some services provide free online ordering software for restaurants and make money by processing payments. Others, like MenuLabs, charge a flat monthly fee and some charge a transaction fee based on a percentage of the purchase amount.
How Does Website Ordering Software Differ From UberEats or Grubhub?
Instead of paying 30% to a delivery service like Uber Eats, GrubHub, Postmates, or DoorDash, setting up online ordering with your own delivery service for your restaurant means more money for your business.
When customers place orders directly with the restaurant, your company is directly communicating with customers and creating a connection with them while maintaining complete control over everything from getting the meal ready to knowing where it needs to go.
Depending on the location and demands of your company, you may decide whether to hire delivery drivers or have one of your workers ready to deliver when the calls come in.
Many restaurant owners are unaware of the benefits of online ordering for their establishment, and they mistakenly believe that their only alternative is to utilize a third-party delivery service to provide their patrons with the convenience of pickup or delivery.
Online ordering is an alternative worth exploring if you want to grow your reach, learn more about your customers, and have a tool for promoting and marketing your restaurant.
How Do I Choose the Right Online Food Ordering Platform?
To begin thinking about what’s best for your restaurant, ask yourself the following questions about yourself and your business:
- How do you run your takeaway business? What is the average number of orders you complete every day? Is this a time-saving method?
- What about the cost? Would you want to pay a modest, fixed charge to a third-party food delivery service on every order, or would you rather pay a commission?
- Do you cherish your restaurant’s brand and promote services to your customers?
- Do you want to be able to accept orders from your consumers over the internet using your website and/or a mobile app? Or would it be okay if customers could only purchase via one route, such as a third-party website?
- Do you place a premium on personalized service? Do you prefer one-on-one assistance and instruction, or do you prefer a self-service online buying system?
Take a look at these industry best practices for finding the ideal online ordering partner now that you’ve established your specific objectives and goals.
Your online purchasing service should give a varied collection of values that will help you build a long-term company.
Work with a firm that can assist you in fine-tuning your online ordering marketing strategy and identifying development potential.
The company should provide you with the customer information you need to make educated judgments regarding your restaurant’s strategy, menu, and promotions.
Look for a provider that invests in ongoing innovation. Look for a history of improvements and updates that benefit your customers and help you run your business more efficiently.
Also, inquire about potential updates that are in the works. To remain ahead of the competition, you’ll want to collaborate with a firm that will stay ahead of the curve and bring fresh ideas to the table.
Before making up your mind on which restaurant ordering platform to go with, create a list of essentials that you need and reach out to several service providers to see how each differs.
Be sure to get your restaurant prepared for accepting online orders. This includes considering the floor plan, staff, and menu items.
When you’ve created your online menu, be sure to keep customers in the loop. You’ll want patrons to be aware of their option to order online and the benefits it offers to them.
When you’re ready to make the leap, start by giving MenuLabs a call. Visit this page to see MenuLabs in action with a free demo. A knowledgeable and friendly team member will work with you to understand your overall goals and then walk you through the MenuLabs online ordering system for restaurants so that you can experience the ease of use for yourself.