It’s no secret the food service industry has undergone dramatic change over the past three years. Online food ordering was already growing in popularity before the global pandemic, but it became a necessity in the restaurant industry and a means of survival.
Now, customers have grown accustomed to the convenience offered by online ordering systems, and the feature helps restaurants remain competitive in the current market. In fact, 71% of consumers surveyed by Intouch Insights in 2022 said they use mobile apps to complete restaurant purchases.
What Is an Online Ordering System?
The first step in choosing the best online ordering software for restaurants is understanding what is an online ordering system. In the most basic of terms, an online ordering system is an automated system that allows a restaurant to process online sales through a branded website or a mobile app.
Customers simply log on to the restaurant’s platform, add their food orders to a shopping cart much like they would when using other e-commerce platforms, then checkout and pay to place their orders. Once an online order is placed, the online ordering system submits it to the restaurant to prepare, package and, if applicable, deliver.
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Why Should Restaurants Use Online Ordering Systems?
Why should a restaurant website feature an online ordering tool? Online ordering systems offer restaurants a variety of benefits and competitive advantages, including:
- Increased efficiency – Online sales can result in quicker processes to fulfill orders.
- Valuable customer data – When customers place online orders, they provide data that can be used to gain valuable insights.
- Improved accuracy – Digitized orders can improve overall accuracy compared to taking orders over the phone and the possibility of information being lost in translation.
- Streamlined operations – Accepting online orders can help streamline processes in the back of the house.
- More customer loyalty – Improvements in efficiency and accuracy are bound to result in increased customer satisfaction that drives repeat business, and many online ordering systems feature customer loyalty programs, as well.
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Best Online Ordering Systems for Restaurants
Is your restaurant ready to accept online orders? Before you can get your online ordering system up and running, you have to select the right software to fulfill your needs. Be sure and consider the cost and available features from some of the top online ordering systems for restaurants in 2023.
Since ChowNow is commission-free, restaurants using this ordering system can maximize their revenue. The ordering app integrates with an existing POS system, and it features a variety of options. Customers can place orders using a branded app or on a restaurant’s own website, and they can choose in-store or curbside pickup. ChowNow is available for a flat monthly fee that ranges from $99 to $150.
2. Toast POS
Online ordering is available through the Toast POS system, which is built specifically for restaurants and offers them plenty of money-saving features. In fact, Toast claims restaurants save an average of $36,000 a year when they use Toast Online Ordering. Some of the most popular Toast POS features include a customer loyalty program, the ability to create and accept gift cards and restaurant inventory management. The total cost to adopt Toast POS for online ordering might include the costs to switch to its POS system, but Toast does offer a free calculator to help restaurants estimate their savings on its website.
3. Square for Restaurants
Customers who select the Square Terminal and Kitchen Display System as their POS system can opt to use Sqaure for Restaurants as their online ordering system, known for being streamlined and efficient. Restaurants can accept orders through multiple platforms such as Postmates, Chowly or UberEats, and the kitchen receives all the orders in a single simple interface. Once they start using Square for Restaurants, it’s easy for restaurant owners to activate delivery services, as well. Square for Restaurants is available in three pricing tiers, including free, $60 a month and custom subscriptions.
Restaurant owners hoping to integrate online ordering with the restaurant’s existing website should consider adopting the GloriaFood online ordering system. GloriaFood provides mobile ordering and table reservation widgets that businesses can place on their website or Facebook page. Not only is a GloriaFood widget convenient, but it’s completely free. The company charges no transaction fees, commissions or hidden costs, although upgrades to advanced features are available for purchase.
6. Clover Online Ordering
Restaurants that adopt the Clover POS system can accept online orders through two options: a Clover-powered website and app or The.Ordering.app. Clover helps its users set up their online menus and streamline their ordering process, plus the Clover online ordering system enhances customer loyalty by tracking rewards, promotions and coupon codes, as well as customer feedback. Clover charges no subscription fees to use its online ordering option, and it’s free to install for customers using a Clover POS, although there is a 3.5% plus 10 cents charge for credit card processing.
Designed for small- and medium-sized businesses, FreshBytes offers smaller restaurants many of the same powerful features available to large chains. Lauded as one of the simplest and fastest-growing online ordering platforms, FreshBytes provides users with a branded, mobile-friendly and commission-free experience that includes options like social media ordering, menu item photos, premium website designs and one-touch reordering. Pricing for Freshbytes starts at $89 a month.
Upserve is a full-service restaurant management system that also includes options for bars, wineries, coffee shops, bakeries and more. Upserve’s software integrates with online ordering marketplaces like Postmates, DoorDash, Caviar and UberEats, so customers get the best of multiple worlds. Upserve’s software also offers valuable data analytics, so restaurant owners or managers can track their venue’s performance and strategically work toward improved customer satisfaction. Upserve plans start at $59 per month.
MenuDrive adds an extra marketing focus to its online ordering software. Users submit their menus, photos and other information to MenuDrive, and the team there builds a custom, branded online menu for the restaurant. The online ordering system also features automated email campaigns and other integrated marketing tools to help restaurants build a dedicated customer base. The basic MenuDrive plan starts with a $99 monthly fee per location, along with one-time setup fees of $99. The service also includes a 3.5% credit card processing fee plus 15 cents per transaction.
Restolabs is a popular online ordering system for restaurants thanks to its ease of use and its being commission free. Restolabs is packed with plenty of useful features, including Facebook ordering, multilingual support and real-time analytics. The service provides a fairly basic interface that allows users to enter their menus and then copy and paste widgets right into their websites. The pricing for Restolabs online ordering starts at $45 a month.
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What Software do Restaurants Use to Take Orders?
Most restaurants rely on a POS system, or point-of-sale system, for entering food orders, adding special instructions, payment processing and printing receipts. Many POS systems also feature tools that help restaurant management predict future sales, make labor hiring and scheduling decisions and oversee restaurant inventories. Some POS software provides additional tools for the online ordering process, while others can be integrated with third-party online ordering software.
What Is the Best Digital Menu for Restaurants?
Does the best online ordering system also provide the best digital menus for restaurants? While each of the best online ordering systems offers its own benefits, restaurant owners seeking a premium digital menu should consider MenuDrive since a team of professionals will design the perfect online menu for a customized and branded experience.
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Are There Free Online Ordering Options for Restaurants?
There are multiple options available for restaurants seeking online ordering options, including some that include a free version. Some services, such as Square for Restaurants and Toast POS are free to customers who subscribe to the brand’s POS systems. Other online ordering options, such as GloriaFood are free to use the basic system with optional upgrades.
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