How to set up an online ordering system for your restaurant for free

What is an online ordering system?

An online ordering system is a system which lets you order food or drink online. In contrast to an eCommerce platform, an online ordering system is geared towards hospitality businesses. The most flexible, such as StoreKit, are designed for click and collect, delivery, or ordering to tables. The nature of hospitality ordering means that a good online ordering system should put emphasis on looking slick and feeling intuitive as a mobile ordering menu.

An online ordering system can be used in-venue as an order and pay system (also known as a table ordering app), or outside the venue as a takeaway system. Below, we’ll take you through how an online ordering system could benefit your business, what to look out for when choosing one, and how you can set one up for free.

Why use an online ordering system in your venue?

Online ordering gives sales a boost…

Online ordering systems, including order and pay systems, boost customer spending thanks to a variety of factors.

First, pictures on online ordering systems drive orders, even where on physical menus pictures can be perceived as tacky. Online ordering systems have a high capacity to drive add ons and modifiers which they suggest after everything, and they also show the full range of options to customers. This has been known to drive premium spirit purchases in some venues as customers are aware of more than just the “bar” choice.

It also means giving customers more control over their dining experience – and satisfied customers are loyal customers.

… whilst cutting your costs

Why is it that we have yet to ditch paper menus completely? Paper menus are impractical – restaurants spend thousands of pounds annually to print menus, whereas transitioning to an online ordering system would mean a farewell to printing costs as well as the hassle of organising reprinting. 

It also removes the need for servers to take orders and payments – in small restaurants, that could free your staff up to focus on other tasks, and in large ones, it might mean you need to hire fewer staff anew. Letting customers directly input their orders also means a decreased likelihood of mistaken orders, which can add up to a lot of wasted time and money and disappointed customers.

Goodbye admin, hello hospitality

One concern surrounding order and pay systems is that it’ll take away the human touch from hospitality businesses. But the experience of ordering and paying in a restaurant is a largely administrative one, and often a stressful one at that.

Instead, transitioning to an online ordering system lets customers order and pay at their own pace. It also lets servers focus more on elevating the customer experience instead – like explaining menu items in more detail or checking whether guests are enjoying their meals. As Chamith Ratnayaka, the owner of the White Hart pub in Harlington, tells us: “if you take all the processes out of the way, that means you actually have more time to spend with your customers.”

Check out the articles below to find out more about the benefits of using an online ordering system in your venue:

Why use an online ordering system for takeaways?

So many restaurants have a love-hate relationship with third-party delivery platforms, like Deliveroo, Uber Eats, or Just Eat. On the one hand, they expose restaurants to new customers.

On the other, they demand expensive fees in return, charging in the region of 30% commission – and they charge your customers too. They also stop you from accessing your customers’ information – and that means fewer marketing opportunities for you.

Setting up your own online ordering system is a cheaper alternative that also puts you in control of your customer relationships. You might not be ready to drop the third-party platforms altogether just yet, but encouraging your loyal customers to switch over to your direct online ordering system can help you bypass the expensive costs – and it’s probably the cheaper choice for your customers too. You can read about this in more detail in our article on how to choose a takeaway platform.

Many online ordering systems offer delivery modules, but you’ll need your own drivers – but with StoreKit Takeaway, you can either bring your own drivers or connect with a courier through Orkestro, our delivery integration partner.

How to set up an online ordering system

StoreKit offers two modules – StoreKit Order & Pay and StoreKit Takeaway – so it’s the ideal solution, whether you intend to use the online ordering system for table ordering, delivery, or click and collect.

There are no signup or monthly fees, so setting up your online ordering system with StoreKit is easy and risk-free – and you can set up as many stores as you like, all free of charge. 

  1. Sign up to StoreKit Order & Pay or Takeaway.
  2. Build your menu by creating categories and adding items.
  3. Let customers access your menu.

Below, we’ve explained in more detail how to set up your online ordering system with StoreKit.

Step 1: set up a free StoreKit account

To set up your online ordering system with StoreKit, go to the StoreKit Order & Pay or StoreKit Takeaway page. Click on the “Create your store” button.

create your store

Add your details and click “Create your account”. Name your store – this will automatically appear in your new menu’s URL.

Then, add a restaurant description, which will appear at the top of your menu, and a cover photo with an aspect ratio of 277 x 528. Also add your business information, making sure to use the email address that will receive orders, not your personal one.

Step 2: create your online ordering menu

After you click “create”, you’ll be taken to the menu-building page. Create categories that customers will find easy to navigate – like “starters”, “drinks”, and “desserts” – and add your items.

Don’t forget to add modifiers, as they boost customer orders.

Modifiers

Menu items with picture items can boost sales by up to 30% – and StoreKit lets you add images to individual menu items, so make sure to take advantage of this feature.

Step 3: let customers access your menu

Once you’ve created your online ordering menu, you’ll need to make sure your customers can access it. 

StoreKit is a QR code menu that customers can access by scanning a QR code when ordering in-store. Click on the “View QR code” button in your store tab to generate your QR code. You can either create individual QR codes for each seating area (so tables are pre-selected when customers scan the QR code) or a generic one for your entire venue (so customers will need to manually specify their own table when ordering).

donwload qr code

You can also take a look at our advice on printing QR codes and displaying them in your venue. You can also set your online ordering menu as the landing page when customers access your WiFi.

Alternatively, if you’re using your online ordering system for the takeaway side of your business, you can attach the link to your website or social media. Never link to a third-party delivery party delivery platform, as you could inadvertently be directing your customers towards other restaurants.

What to look for when choosing an online ordering system

Apps don’t mean ‘appy customers

Some venues will opt for native app-based menus, whilst others will choose a progressive web app. StoreKit is the latter – so it retains the advantages of a native app, like push notifications and fast load speeds, but doesn’t need downloading, which can be off-putting for customers. This is particularly important for businesses which rely on high throughput, like QSRs, cafes, or bars.

Is it your menu?

Your online ordering system is more than a purely administrative tool. It can be an expression of your venue – so it would be a shame to choose an online ordering system that doesn’t let you make your menu your own.

Make sure to choose an online ordering system that has a customisable menu. You should be able to tweak the colour scheme and add descriptions and pictures of your individual menu items. This is also important to boosting sales, as we’ve found that menus with pictures sell more.

Take a look at some of our favourite menus from our Order & Pay and Takeaway customers for inspiration:

What are you paying for?

In general, there are three types of pricing structures for online ordering system providers: first, a software fee that you’ll pay on a regular basis (eg £XX per month); second, commission pricing, where you’ll be charged a percentage of your sales by your software provider (like how the major third-party delivery platforms charge customers); and third, payment-based pricing, where you pay for payment processing only.

For online ordering systems with the former two pricing structures, you’ll need to pay additional fees to a third-party payment processor, like Stripe. Make sure to look out for this when picking your online ordering system – not all businesses will make this clear upfront. 

This means payment-based pricing – which is how StoreKit is priced – is likely to be the cheapest. StoreKit doesn’t charge any signup, monthly, or commission fees, and there’s no contract either – so that means you can set your menu up risk-free.

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