Online Ordering

5 restaurant online ordering systems (that aren't third-party apps)

Looking for a restaurant online ordering system that isn’t a third-party delivery app? Here are all your options — and everything you need to know to choose the best one for your restaurant.

Find the restaurant online ordering system that's right for you

What’s wrong with third-party delivery apps?

6 restaurant online ordering systems to choose from

The best online ordering system that offers much more

We don’t need to tell restaurants that online ordering and delivery have seen a meteoric rise in the last few years.

In 2019, 1.17 billion people globally used food ordering and delivery services. Then, in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of global users surged by 30 percent, to nearly 1.5 billion. Experts now think that there will be 2 billion global food delivery service users by 2024.

Naturally, restaurants are trying to take advantage of the popularity of online ordering and delivery. And those that have instituted online ordering platforms are reaping the benefits:

  • Greater reach. While seats in your restaurant’s dining room might be limited, you can serve many more guests by offering online delivery for takeout and delivery orders.
  • More sales. There are conflicting figures depending on what study you reference, but there’s no denying that restaurants with online ordering see more sales—in some parts of the U.S., as much as 800 percent more.
  • Bigger check sizes. Multiple studies have shown that guests who place their orders online tend to spend more—up to 20 percent more, on average.

With those kinds of benefits on the line, it’s clear that offering online ordering is becoming less optional for restaurants—and more and more necessary for those that want to boost their revenue, stay ahead of their competition, and give their guests the experiences they want.

But that’s where things get difficult for restaurants. There are so many online ordering systems to choose from. How do you pick the system that will offer your restaurant all the best benefits—without drawbacks like high cost?

If you’re looking for the best restaurant online ordering system, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll examine all the options—and determine which system is the best for both restaurants and their guests.

What’s Wrong with Third-Party Delivery Apps?

When many restaurants decide to offer online ordering and delivery, they go straight for third-party ordering apps like Grubhub, UberEats, or Postmates. 

On the surface, these apps seem great for restaurants. They’re incredibly convenient. They give you access to an existing audience of app users who are hungry for delivery meals. They offer quick setup, so you can often begin taking online orders in a matter of hours.

A pros and cons list of third-party food delivery apps

But these third-party apps come with a major drawback: Their fees.

For all the convenience and access they offer restaurants, the apps want something in return: A cut of your revenue. In some cases, a big cut. It’s standard for third-party delivery apps to charge restaurants around 30 percent of each order total in commissions and fees. Unless they raise prices or shift those costs to their guests, restaurants are looking at pocketing only around 70 percent of their revenue from third-party apps—before other costs like ingredients, staff, and operations.

Many restaurants don’t operate with more than a 30 percent profit margin on their food sales. That makes it hard to make a profit on online orders that are placed on delivery apps. Restaurants need better options. But what are they?

6 Restaurant Online Ordering Systems to Choose From

When looking at the most popular online ordering systems that are available for restaurants today, there are 6 kinds that most restaurants end up choosing from.

Third-party delivery apps

Third-Party Delivery Apps

We’ve already talked about the pros and cons of third-party apps. They offer convenience with quick setup and immediate access to a large base of hungry guests; but their steep commissions and fee structures make them difficult for many restaurants to use profitably. Online orders should be helping boost your bottom line, not taking away from it.

Content management systems with online ordering built in

Content Management Systems with Online Ordering Built In

Your content management system (CMS) is the platform you use to build and maintain your restaurant website. And as more and more common website builders cater to small businesses, including restaurants, they want to add the functionality that those customers need. That’s why it’s not too hard to find a CMS that has online ordering functionality built in. The most popular CMS systems are also adding other tools that are uniquely helpful to restaurants, like the ability to create gift cards and loyalty programs.
Here’s the downside: Many website builders are made for small businesses, but most aren’t made just for restaurants. That means that oftentimes, the features restaurant owners need are locked behind premium subscriptions, or require add-ons to your basic website. These come with extra costs, and restaurants need more budget-friendly options than that.

An Online ordering integration for your existing website

An Online Ordering Integration for Your Existing Website

If your CMS doesn’t have online ordering functionality built in, there are companies that have been created to help bridge that gap for restaurants. You can create an online ordering account and then integrate it with your existing website, as well as other systems that your restaurant uses, like your POS.
The big downside with this method is that it can quickly become complicated to address every restaurant problem with a point solution. Getting all your different tech tools to work together can be complicated, and restaurant owners without a lot of tech knowledge may have a hard time. It’s also another tool that your staff needs to learn how to use, which takes effort and time. And, of course, there’s the cost of adding another standalone tool to your restaurant’s workflow.

A custom solution you build yourself

A Custom Solution You Build Yourself

A less common way to address online ordering needs is to build a website or tool from scratch that offers exactly what your restaurant needs. This will require having the coding knowledge to build and launch your own tech tools—or hiring someone who has the know-how to help.

While building a custom tool allows restaurants to create the exact functionality and workflow that they need, it comes with some significant drawbacks. First is the cost—developing a custom website or integration will take time and money, two resources restaurant owners don’t typically have in abundance. It will take more time to update your online system any time you make a menu change, like adding seasonal menu items. And going this route can be dangerous for any restaurant owner who isn’t extremely tech-savvy—if something goes wrong with your system, you won’t have a customer service team that can help you fix things.

Point of Sale Systems with Online Ordering Features

One of the most common ways that restaurants add online ordering capabilities to their websites is via their point of sale (POS) system. Many popular POS systems offer online ordering, which restaurants can link to straight from their website, making it easy for guests to access an online ordering portal and send in their orders.

This method can be simple and convenient for restaurants, since they need a POS anyway, and online orders received this way integrate seamlessly with existing systems and workflows. Since there’s so much competition in this space, pricing for POS systems tends to be competitive, too. 
The biggest downside is that there are so many POS systems with different online ordering capabilities. In addition to being a little bit overwhelming in the amount of choice that’s available, it can be difficult for restaurants to find one system that’s a perfect fit for their POS needs and their online ordering needs.

A Digital Toolkit that Helps Manage Your Entire Online Presence

That brings us to the final option, which is much more than just a restaurant online ordering solution. In the digital age, restaurants can now use tools that offer website design and management with built-in direct online ordering and delivery, dynamic online menus, automated marketing tools, and more.

Sounds too good to be true? It’s not. It’s Popmenu.

Popmenu: The Best Online Ordering System—that Offers Much More

Popmenu is the restaurant digital marketing toolkit that includes direct online ordering and delivery—along with other tools modern restaurants need to own their customer relationships online.

Popmenu gives guests an online ordering experience that lives right on your restaurant’s website that can accommodate orders for takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery; either with an in-house delivery team or with a local network via our unique integration with DoorDash. It’s mobile-friendly, so there’s no need to have an additional mobile app. And you can use Popmenu to generate QR codes that will help more guests find your website and online menu.

A flow chart showing the ordering process for restaurant guests. From QR Code, to order placement, delivery, and adding the guests to marketing lists.

What’s even better is that Popmenu offers a whole host of other digital tools for restaurants, including website design and management, automated marketing, social media integration, real-time insights from customer data, and more. And then there’s our patented, one-of-a-kind menu technology that turns your online menu into an interactive experience for your guests.
Popmenu is the platform that allows modern restaurants to do it all in a digital world. Want to see how Popmenu can take your restaurant’s online order system—and the rest of your digital presence—to the next level? Schedule a free demo today.

Front of the House Resource

6 Things Diners Wish Restaurant Owners Knew About Online Ordering

Forty-two percent of U.S. consumers order carry out or delivery three or more times a week; while 63 percent order it at least twice a week. Want to know what bugs them the most or makes them spend more at restaurants? Discover key insights every restaurant owner and operator should know about creating a positive online ordering experience for guests and maximizing off-premise revenue.

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