How to Create an Online Ordering System for Your Restaurant or Business
The food and beverage industry was one of the sectors hit hardest by the 2020 pandemic. The close contact and highly social nature of dining out make restaurants high-risk establishments.
Nonetheless, food is a basic need and not everyone has easy access to it at home. Restaurants provide a necessary service by feeding communities throughout the world.
Most government bodies have allowed restaurants to continue to operate during the quarantine. When lockdowns first went into place, they were limited to offering takeout, delivery, or curbside pickup.
However, even before the pandemic struck, takeout and delivery options were growing in popularity. According to National Restaurant News, 60% of the U.S. consumers surveyed reported ordering delivery or takeout at least once a week.
The upward trend is expected to continue even as the pandemic comes to an end. Digital ordering has grown 300% since 2014 and is expected to grow even more now that takeout and deliveries are recommended.
To adapt to these changing trends and ensure you’re not losing business to the competition, it’s necessary to create your own WooCommerce order management system.
A survey conducted by Technomic revealed that 60% of surveyed restaurant operators noticed an increase in sales once they started offering a delivery service. Only 11% felt it impacted their dine-in service.
So, what are you waiting for?
The Different Types of Online Order Management System
Various solutions have popped for online ordering.
The most common choices are:
- Third-party online delivery services (like GrubHub, Postmates, UberEats, and DoorDash)
- Standalone online point-of-sale (POS)
- E-commerce solutions
Third-Party Online Ordering and Delivery Solutions
The most positive aspect of third-party online delivery solutions is their convenience — which is enough to attract a wide variety of restaurants.
Once a restaurant hands food off to the delivery person, the restaurant doesn’t have to worry about it anymore. You don’t have to schedule delivery personnel, pay them, or ensure they do their job correctly.
Also, when you sign up for a third-party solution, it’s easier to spread the word about your ability to deliver, since these services have their own established customer base.
The downside is that third-party delivery services are expensive — they typically charge between 20-30% per order.
Some services have deferred their commission to help small business owners during the pandemic. However, the scope is limited and doesn’t help over the long-term.
Another major drawback is that you have no control over the people handling your customers’ food deliveries. But, if the delivery is unsatisfactory, you’ll get the flak (and bad reviews).
Standalone Online POS Ordering and Delivery Solutions
Online POS solutions help you publish an up-to-date menu on your website, social media, and related apps. POS integrations are designed to forward online orders directly to your POS system as soon as they’re placed — so there’s no need for you or your staff to manually input those orders.
For many restaurants that already use a POS system (such as Lightspeed, Toast, or Shopkeep) an online ordering option can be as simple as the click of a button or two.
However, this is not a great solution if you aren’t using a POS system already or the system you have doesn’t offer an online ordering option — a new POS system will be very expensive and time-consuming to implement.
E-commerce Online Ordering and Delivery Solutions
If you have a WordPress website, it’s also possible to create an e-commerce solution through WooCommerce.
A WooCommerce order management system is likely to be the cheapest option for your restaurant. It’s certainly better than having a third-party company skimming 20-30% off the top — cutting deep into already thin margins.
Additionally, using a third-party service means you’re giving another company control over how the delivery system looks, what items are displayed, and many other elements that can impact your sales.
When you use e-commerce tools to create your own online ordering system, you get to maintain your autonomy. You will have the freedom to easily add new features and payment methods, as well as scale up or down as needed.
Lastly, your own e-commerce setup could be the best solution simply because it keeps you more connected to your customers. More than 40% of restaurant professionals believe using third-party apps interferes with the relationship between the restaurants and their customers.
The downside of an e-commerce system is that because all the profits are yours, so is all the work. That means you need to hire delivery people, manage incoming orders, ensure timely deliveries, and guarantee quality.
Does that sound like a lot of work? It is. But there’s a workaround that keeps the system in-house without increasing the number of employees or the burden on management — offer curb-side pick-up and takeout only.
How to Set Up Your Restaurant Online Ordering System
If you already have a WordPress website, setting up your online ordering system with WooCommerce is a relatively easy and straightforward process.
What You Need:
- A WordPress website for your business.
- The WooCommerce plugin. This allows you to operate an online store on WordPress.
- WooCommerce Order Delivery plugin ($129/year). This allows your customers to choose their preferred delivery date and time.
A Step-by-Step Guide for Setting Up Your Online Ordering System
Once you have the WooCommerce plugin installed on your website, you’ll want to upload your menu. To do this, go to Products > Add New.
Then, add all the relevant details for each menu item, including the name, price, and description — don’t forget to add a photo. Each menu item will act as a separate “product.”
It’s a good idea to use WordPress categories and tags to organize your products: breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, desserts, and so on.
Before you save each item, go to General > Product data settings. The default setting for a product is “Simple Product”, but you can change it to “Variable Product,” if you’re offering various options per menu item, such as size or heat level.
If you make an item a variable product, you may also want to change the default price setting from the “Regular” price. That way, you can set a higher cost on more expensive options.
Setting Up Your Delivery Schedule
Obviously, if you are only creating an online ordering system for curbside pickup or takeout, you can skip this step entirely. However, if you’re also building in a delivery system, pay attention.
It’s worth mentioning that the ability to schedule a pickup time (versus a delivery time) might be beneficial to customers who are planning ahead for a dinnertime pickup.
On a related note, this functionality may also be useful for the restaurant because it empowers people to place orders several days ahead of time. This way, bigger orders for parties and events can be managed easier. The restaurant can ensure that they have the necessary staff and ingredients in place to provide a great customer experience.
Install and update a delivery schedule plugin, such as WooCommerce Order Delivery. With this plugin, you can choose which days and time slots to offer deliveries, as well as add a delivery fee.
Give customers the option for contact-free delivery with the Leave At Door plugin.
Additional Plugins for Your Restaurant Online Ordering System
To get your restaurant’s online ordering system up and going, you’ll need the basics:
- WooCommerce Order Delivery.
However, there are several additional e-commerce plugins that can improve the customer experience while giving your bottom line a boost.
On a similar note, check out Amplify Plugins’ Conditional Free Product For WooCommerce. This plugin will allow you to give away free food or drink items when customers trigger a deal. You can create this trigger based on customers purchasing certain products or spending a certain amount of money in a single order.
Free breadsticks go a long way in creating loyal customers!
Final Thoughts: How to Create a WooCommerce Order Management System
Having a WooCommerce order management system for your restaurant is about more than surviving the pandemic. It’s about catering to changing trends in customer expectations.
By creating an online ordering system on your WordPress website through WooCommerce, you can set your company up to survive now and thrive into the future.
Talk to the e-commerce experts at Amplify Plugins to learn what other plugins can boost your bottom line.