This article is for you if you own a restaurant or other food (or drink) related business, as I will be looking at WordPress restaurant online ordering systems. These will help you upgrade your business website to make the most of the shift from in-house to at-home eating caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Year That Changed Restaurant Businesses Forever…
COVID-19 has changed our everyday lives permanently in so many ways. When it all began in 2019, government-imposed restrictions made it almost impossible to eat out. In fact, in many countries, you could not even get takeaway food unless it was pre-ordered.
Therefore, to stay afloat, many restaurants that previously relied on in-house dining had to revise their business model to encompass takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery food also.
The pandemic is now its third year. Although restrictions have begun to ease, many people still choose to eat at home rather than in restaurants. This is, in part, because they are now used to having family meals together. However, many remain concerned about their personal safety and still avoid social contact wherever possible.
So, what are the repercussions on restaurants and other food-oriented businesses?
Well, the savviest restaurant owners changed their business models early on to capture the increased takeout and delivery market. The result is people now have more options available to them and can order takeout or delivery food from five-star restaurants, and not just pizza houses, burger joints, or Chinese takeaways.
What Do You Need To Set up Online Food Ordering?
Unfortunately, many restaurants are still missing out on the fact that people now like to order food online using their mobile phones from the comfort of their own homes rather than go out to eat.
Sure, there are plenty of third-party online ordering services available. Those capture online orders and payments for you, but for a hefty commission: typically, 15-20% on every order.
Thankfully, adding an online ordering system to your restaurant’s website is not so challenging, thanks to several platforms specifically designed for the purpose.
What Can Restaurant Online Ordering Systems Do?
Having an online ordering system added to your restaurant’s WordPress (or any other) website will allow you to easily capture and manage orders for takeout, curbside pickup, or deliveries. That will leave you to focus on preparing the food and managing other aspects of your business.
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A robust online ordering system will have some or all the following capabilities:
- Simple setup and configuration, with an intuitive admin panel for ease of operation.
- Allow people to view your up-to-date menu online and place orders directly from their phone or computer. This helps reduce paper menu printing costs.
- Have configurable layout options, food items, and categories for the menu so you can display everything exactly as you want.
- Capture immediate payments. This also helps prevent bogus orders.
- Send customers instant order confirmations and notifications when the food is ready for collection.
- Keep complete control of orders: times when they can be placed, block them if the kitchen reaches capacity, prevent people from requesting out-of-stock items, etc.
- Reduce the time spent dealing with phone calls, as customers will be placing the orders themselves. Furthermore, it helps eliminate errors due to misunderstood calls.
- Provide analytics on your customers’ ordering habits, allowing you to focus your marketing efforts and refine your menu.
- Capture customer contact information, also for marketing purposes.
- Simplify your financial accounts and stock management as most systems collate orders and revenue electronically in one place.
Above all, giving your customers a great online ordering experience will increase the likelihood of repeat business and their favorable recommendations to others.
My Suggested Restaurant Online Ordering Systems for WordPress
I’m now going to look at some of the best WordPress restaurant online ordering systems currently available in 2022. All of these will allow you to capture and manage online orders through your website efficiently.
WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering
Unlike the other systems in this list, WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering is, in fact, a plugin for a WordPress site running WooCommerce. It allows you easily add online menus and ordering capability to the site.
The menus are fully customizable, and customers can add items to orders by clicking either the item itself or a ‘buy’ button. What’s more, the menus are mobile-device friendly.
Payment capture is through the standard WooCommerce cart and checkout. However, that process is rather clumsy and not ideal for restaurant applications. Therefore, to ensure the best possible user experience, another plugin is available that adds a popup cart. Customers can instantly review their order, enter their details, and pay, all via that cart.
WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering does not include options for delivery and collection. Instead, it relies on the features built into WooCommerce for those. However, that brings the advantage of being able to configure delivery charges, delivery zones, etc.
- Directly extends the functionality of your site rather than via an external service
- The Fast Cart and Checkout plugin is more conversion optimized than the standard WooCommerce cart and checkout
- Detailed documentation, videos, and tutorials
- Fast, proactive support
- It comes with a 30-day moneyback guarantee
- Only works on WordPress sites running WooCommerce
- Quite pricey if you buy both plugins
- WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering costs $99/year or $299/lifetime for a single site.
- If you want both the Restaurant Ordering and Fast Cart and Checkout, prices start at $149/year or $449/lifetime for a single site.
- Discounts are available for multiple site usage (up to five or twenty domains.)
Probably better known for software such as Java, believe it or not, Oracle also creates GloriaFood. This is a free platform for capturing, processing and managing online orders for takeout, deliveries, and in-house dining, too. The latter allows customers to pre-order their food to be ready when they arrive at the table, thereby minimizing the time they need to hang around the restaurant.
The platform produces in-depth reports about all orders (daily takings, tips earned by staff, etc.) Furthermore, it is possible to capture unlimited orders across any number of branch locations or through Facebook.
I love GloriaFood because it is entirely free, although capturing online payments requires a paid add-on. What’s more, setup is simple, merely requiring you to complete your restaurant profile and add a “See Menu & Order” button to your website.
- Customers can place orders with options for takeout, delivery, or eat in
- Customers can schedule orders for specific times
- QR code menu access to reduce physical contact
- The platform is free, although several paid add-ons are available to add extra functionality
- Run promotions and offer coupons
- A free plugin is available so you can add the functionality directly to your WordPress site rather than through the web-based system
- Payment processing requires a paid add-on ($29 per month)
- GloriaFood is free. Paid add-ons cost between $9 and $59 per month.
Restolabs is a full-featured restaurant online ordering system for capturing takeout, delivery, and even dine-in orders.
Extensive customer-orientated features such as interactive maps for entering delivery addresses, Facebook orders, rewards programs, push notifications, etc., create an enhanced user experience that builds trust and loyalty.
Other key features of Restolabs include multi-outlet management, real-time order notifications, stock management, order throttling when the kitchen is overwhelmed, and QR code ordering for reduced contact.
Restolabs supports email notifications and automated phone calls to inform you of new orders, plus it will automatically print tickets for your kitchen.
- Easy setup and configuration
- Excellent customer engagement features, including coupon code generator and rewards programs
- Extensive features for multiple locations, including individual branch configurations
- Multiple payment options (online or cash/cards on delivery or pickup) with over forty payment gateway integrations
- The cheapest plan has limited features, although it is a good starting point that you can build on
- Three Restolabs plans are available. Basic costs $45, Premium is $99, and Enterprise costs $199. All prices are per month per location.
ChowNow Direct allows you to add easy online ordering capability to your restaurant website. This is done by embedding ‘buy’ buttons and slick images that make your menu look professional, thereby attracting sales.
The system also gives your customers iOS and Android apps to browse the menus, place orders, and pay. What’s more, if customers wish to dine in, the system provides contactless ordering and payments.
Marketing is assisted by a range of integrated tools such as automated emails, hard copy materials such as flyers, and signage, while analytics allow you to track how things are performing. Furthermore, you can create membership programs to nurture customer loyalty.
- Dedicated Restaurant Success Manager to help with integrations, marketing advice, etc.
- It is possible to add DoorDash for deliveries using on-demand drivers
- Wide range of point of sale (POS) integrations
- Branded iOS and Android apps
- Pricey, although that is partly justified by the inclusion of a dedicated Restaurant Success Manager
- ChowNow costs $199 per month. However, that drops to $139 per month if you commit to a year or $129 per month for a two-year contract. Furthermore, if you allow your customers to pay by credit card, additional fees of 2.95% + $0.15 are payable.
UpMenu is another restaurant online ordering system that allows your customers to place food orders (and pay) through mobile apps (iOS and Android), your website, or Facebook.
The system includes customer-convenience features like online payments and pre-orders, while the restaurant can specify operating hours, minimum order values, delivery zones, and more. Moreover, UpMenu can also accommodate multiple restaurant locations.
- Integral website builder to build responsive, SEO optimized websites
- Branded iOS and Android apps
- Customers can tip drivers through the system
- All plans offer good functionality (aside from the order restrictions mentioned below)
- There are strict limitations on the number of orders you can process each month on the two lower-priced plans (only the most expensive includes unlimited orders.) Exceeding the limits incurs an additional charge of $1.90 for each extra order
- UpMenu is available in three plans: Base ($49,) Standard costing ($89,) and Premium ($169.) Those prices are per month for one location.
Alternatives to Investing in a Restaurant Online Food Ordering System
As you will have noticed, online food ordering systems for restaurants can work out quite expensive, given most charge a monthly fee.
Admittedly, those fees do ensure you have a professional ordering system from the outset, while some of the systems will also create a website or app for you. What’s more, they are all well supported.
However, there is an alternative option if you have a WordPress site that you created yourself – menu plugins.
There are plenty of these available, and lots of them also have online ordering and payment capture capabilities. Check out WPLift’s article “10 Best WordPress Restaurant Menu Plugins in 2021” for some inspiration.
What’s Your Favorite Online Food Ordering System?
Do you run a restaurant or other kind of food-related business? How did the pandemic affect trade for you? And which measures did you take to ensure the survival of your business, such as capturing online food orders? If so, did you use a proprietary restaurant online food ordering system like the ones I have mentioned? Or did you expand your WordPress site using menu plugins?
Either way, I hope your business was able to ride out the storm and things are starting to pick up again for you now that the world seems to be getting used to a new way of life.