Table Ordering Apps for Pubs & Bars
The government has issued advice that in order to open safely as a pub, you should use a table ordering app for pubs or bars in order to deliver food and drinks to tables, rather than have patrons crowd around a bar.
An order and pay system, such as StoreKit Order & Pay, or a module from one of the POS systems available through StoreKit, is a better way to handle this than using a waiter, who will be too slow if you have a lot of people ordering a lot of drinks and food. We can onboard you immediately if you book a call.
The only cost for StoreKit Order & Pay will be payment processing, and the POS systems available through this site are a range of price points. For other POS feature information, check out our EPOS for pubs and bars recommendations.
Do I want an app? Or a website?
First, you need to ask a question – do you want your mobile ordering system to be an app, or a mobile website?
Before you answer, in the spirit of Boris Johnson (“have your cake…”) there is a third option. We’d suggest something called a “progressive web app”, which combines the best qualities of both. Our Order & Pay software is a PWA.
Here’s what that means:
|App||Progressive Web App||Website|
|Receive push notification
(dependent on phone settings)
|Browser view||No||Opens in browser, views as app||Yes|
|Installs to home screen||Yes||Yes||No|
|Can be accessed via URL||No||Yes||Yes|
|Can be accessed via QR code||No||Yes||Yes|
|Card details ready-saved to browser||No||Yes||Yes|
In technology, from about 2005 to about 2017, everybody wanted an app. Think of any company with money to spend on an app, and they probably tried to build one.
The problem with that desire, is that statistically, people don’t want to download apps. Nearly all apps fail, especially in the context of marketing. An app which you are required to download in order to access a service has a better chance than most – but it could feel like an imposition, and irritate customers. Apps are also more expensive than websites.
But a website has different problems. First, it’s tricky to navigate there on mobile. While larger touch phones and good predictive text interfaces solved the problem of bad typing in conversation, it’s hard to type out a URL on a mobile without making a mistake. It’s also awkward to navigate in and out of a single window if you also want to use your web browser for other things. And, if you navigate away from the URL, it’s not reassuring that your order has gone through.
A progressive web app is our recommendation, here – it has the lightness of a website in the dressing of an app. That means that a home page icon and push notifications are possible; but you can navigate there via a QR code and you don’t have to go through a download process.
Navigating to your URL
The most obvious way to do it is to have users type out a URL manually. If you do this, think carefully about your URL! You could also link to your menu from your website via a button, but in this instance, you’d still be making your customers type out a URL.
II. Guest WiFi home page
Lots of guest WiFis have a home page. Perhaps the best way of routing your customers of all is to insert a button which leads to the menu, or even to insert the menu right there.
III. QR Codes
A QR code is just a way of encoding information, like a URL. Some softwares (including SK Order & Pay) prime you with the option to print QR codes which relate to your URL. You can even encode table-specific URLs so that a QR code scanned at table 37 automatically takes the user to the menu for table 37 – and they don’t need to select a table.
To scan a QR code, a customer should navigate to their camera, point it at the QR code, and then the phone will cue the rest.
IV. NFC tags
“NFC” stands for “near-field-communications” – that’s the technology used in contactless payments. As long as a customer has a phone capable and NFC turned on (easy to find in “settings”), you can simply hold a phone near an NFC hotspot and the phone will pop up with a notification inviting you to visit the page.
Judging Menus and Assessing Friction
Menu aesthetics is not something we can explain here; you have surely seen online menus, and you will have opinions on which ones look nice and don’t. “Friction” is a term used to refer to the obstacles between you and payment.
Here’s some tips for determining which menus are the nicest:
A) Make sure you review example menus
Better looking menus do get more orders – it’s true! So your instinct is correct – you want software which has an extremely beautiful menu.
B) Use your mobile to do so
This is a mobile product, not a desktop product. It feels natural to use a computer when you research things – your users will nearly always be on mobile.
C) Add pictures
A picture of a beer logo might be better than a picture of a pint.
Card Detail Entry
The most “high-friction” point on a customer journey is card detail entry. There are three ways to reduce this:
“Saved Cards in Browser” means that your customers are likely to have card details autosaved by the browser they are using – Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Explorer. These should automatically enter into any web-based or progressive web app payment gateway with the exception of the CVC. Whether or not this is possible depends on the browser, and the settings – it is generally not contingent on your payment gateway choice.
Picture Card Scanning is a good way to enter details which have not been entered yet. This needs to be supported both by the browser and/or the order & pay solution. It is available in StoreKit Order & Pay.
PayPal is designed for customers to side-step the hassle of card detail reentry. PayPal can cost merchants a little more than saved cards. PayPal is supported by all browsers but you need to ask your payment gateway app whether they support PayPal. StoreKit Order & Pay doesn’t presently support PayPal. Generally, companies which pay for the software via payment processing will not support PayPal.
Pay-at-Table will be cheaper than paying online, because people use a card. However, the spirit of the government advice is to avoid people all touching the same thing – the card reader. Try to encourage people to use contactless payments wherever possible.
What should happen next is that your customer’s order will be received and sent somewhere.
That is likely to either be to a receipt printer to create dockets or some kind of kitchen-facing display. Which receipt printers can connect depends on the software.
We’re happy to advise on the best receipt printer! If it’s for a hot kitchen, you may be better off with a traditional dot and matrix printer than a thermal receipt printer, which can break in intense heat. Otherwise, the printer which works best for StoreKit Order & Pay is the Star mC-Print 3
Additionally, reporting is a big feature in a good order & pay system. It may have standalone reporting, but it’s also worth asking about integrations which are available with other softwares.
How much should I expect to pay?
The brands which are on the market for table ordering could ask you to pay in one of multiple ways. It’s difficult to list prices – which are designed to get bigger the bigger you are – but the pricing model has implications for the product, which you should pay attention to.
Up-front proprietary payment
E.g. “a one-off payment of £2000”
The advantage of this type of payment is that you buy software and then you own it. Which is nice!
The obvious disadvantage to this pricing model is that it’s really high risk. What if you don’t like it? But the bigger disadvantages are less obvious. First, these softwares are then bound to a “product cycle” – the development and release of different versions for developers to sell, instead of a single continuously improving version. All of the money and the focus of your software brand moves on from the version 1.0 to the 1.1 to the 1.2. And eventually, you will find that they stop “supporting” your version – to try to get you to upgrade. We’d also associate this kind of billing style with old-school software, which have something called “closed APIs” – that means it’s expensive to buy integrations, where two softwares talk to each other.
Recurring SaaS Fee
E.g. “£30 a month”
The advantage of SaaS billing is that it’s really easy for you to switch softwares. There’s very little commitment, although they might encourage you to use it for a year with a cheaper annual rate. And it’s very easy for you to leave – which in turn, makes the software better as the brands fight harder to retain you.
The disadvantage is that we find lots of customers are understandably resistant to sign up for a recurring monthly bill! These bills are also often tied to confusing schemas to charge you more the bigger you get. With POS, we see a lot of Price A for one till, Price B for two tills…
E.g. “10% in addition to payment processing”
The advantage of this kind of billing is that there’s no risk, and it’s usually very straightforward to pass the cost onto the customer – so from a business perspective, you can say commission software “pays for itself.”
The disadvantage is that this can sometimes be set quite expensively!
Payment Processing Fees
E.g. “2.9% + 20p”
You’ll need to pay payment processing fees regardless of what you choose. So if you can find a processor which provides free software, that’s great!
The disadvantage is that it’s usually cheaper to process when a card is present, due to a lower risk of fraud. This kind of ordering counts as a card not present transaction. ‘
Where to shop
Call StoreKit! It’s true that we have our own, but we also have a software ecosystem with hundreds of different brands available. We have over 50 POS softwares available through StoreKit, for example – so we’re not going to push you to one or the other. We think about software in terms of a software family – that means making sure that your whole software stack works together.