Dining habits are changing.
Pressured by a demand for expanded dining options, restaurants have been adding pickup, carryout, and delivery services to meet their customers’ expectations. And the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated these changes — in order to comply with changing health and safety regulations, restaurants have had to make rapid adjustments.
“Many restaurants around the country have been forced to close dine-in service in favor of delivery or takeout options during the coronavirus outbreak,” writes Emily Vogels, research associate at the Pew Research Center. As a result, many restaurants have had to integrate online ordering systems just to stay in business.
But online ordering is a trend that likely isn’t going to fade away as the pandemic eases, because customers have gotten “used to the ease and convenience of the process,” writes Alicia Keslo at Restaurant Dive. That’s why restaurants need to be prepared for online ordering to claim a larger portion of their business.
Part of that preparation is implementing online ordering systems that can streamline your operations and adjusting your business model. Here are 10 popular online ordering systems that allow you to seamlessly make those changes.
The top 10 online ordering systems for restaurants
MenuDrive is for restaurants that want to create a branded online ordering experience through a dedicated website. This system enables restaurant owners to turn their menus into interactive websites that allow customers to customize their orders. MenuDrive gives you full control to make changes to your menu, store hours, and promotions from any device with an internet connection.
Toast is a restaurant management suite targeted to full-service restaurants looking for an online ordering system that integrates with a point-of-sale (POS) system. The two services work best side by side to help restaurants manage day-to-day operations, including online ordering and delivery. Other integrated features include a loyalty rewards program, email marketing tools, an inventory management system, and analytics.
If you want to directly control a branded, online ordering system where customers can order from all your restaurant’s digital channels, ChowNow is the tool for you. With this system, customers can order via a mobile app, Instagram, Google search, or your restaurant’s website. ChowNow also shares valuable customer data with you, helps with custom marketing campaigns, and lets you create your own loyalty program.
Upserve is another full-service restaurant management tool with an online ordering system that integrates with its POS system, payments service, and mobile app. It has a reputation for being user-friendly and easy to implement and operate. You can embed the online ordering portal into your restaurant’s website.
Upserve’s features include inventory management, analytics, and a customer loyalty program.
GloriaFood is a free, user-friendly online ordering system designed especially for small and medium-sized restaurants. The system, which you can set up in under an hour, works via an embedded widget on your restaurant’s website, mobile app, and/or Facebook page. It allows you to take unlimited online orders.
GloriaFood provides real-time order tracking, order history data, and customer heat maps as part of its free service.
CAKE is a full-service POS and management system that includes online ordering. It’s one of the few options that allows restaurants to manage online and in-person orders on the same platform. With its online ordering system, customers can place customized orders through your restaurant’s website or Facebook page.
This system also features a curbside pickup management tool that ensures the right customers receive the right orders.
If you don’t want to integrate a third-party online ordering system but still want the ability to accept and manage online orders, online form-building tool Jotform can help.
With Jotform, restaurants can set up online food ordering systems that include custom online order forms. A user-friendly drag-and-drop interface enables you to create forms. All submissions go to an online database where you can track orders. And Jotform integrates with over 80 apps and 30 payment gateways.
Targeted to small and medium-sized restaurants, Restolabs is an online ordering system that features a simple, user-friendly interface that allows you to input your menu and then copy and paste a widget into your website. Within minutes, you can start receiving online orders.
Some of this tool’s other key features include Facebook ordering, real-time analytics, and POS system integration.
Square is a two-in-one ordering solution that’s perfect for any restaurant that wants to streamline in-person and online ordering. All orders are funneled through the same interface, making it easier for restaurants to manage business.
Through Square for Restaurants, you can design your own website for order collections, push orders to the POS system, and then easily track and manage them.
iMenu360 is an online ordering system that allows restaurants to create a customized, interactive menu to add to their websites. It’s designed specifically for easy website and POS system integration. iMenu360 also features a coupon engine, loyalty programs, customer feedback surveys, and a customer database.
In the end, the online ordering system you choose depends on which features you need most. Restaurant consultant Leslie Lynn says there are four things to look for as you conduct your research:
- Ability to customize branding
- Easy integration of the online ordering system with your POS system
- Cost structure (and how it fits into your budget)
- Marketing support
Keeping these considerations in mind will help you decide which tool will best meet your online ordering needs and position you for future success.