6 Tools Restaurants Can Use to Offer Mobile Ordering

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Food OrderingIn a world where every second counts, mobile ordering is the next big thing. Although national restaurant chains like Jersey Mike’s and Pizza Hut have offered mobile ordering options for years, local restaurants are just beginning to discover the benefits.

Not only is mobile ordering something that customers are demanding, but it’s also something that can help restaurants improve operational efficiencies and boost marketing ROI. Fifty-eight percent of Internet users now say they find the idea of online food ordering appealing, and 35% of millenials say they’ve ordered online from a restaurant in the past year, according to a 2014 survey by the ad agency Sullivan Higdon & Sink.

Here are six technology platforms that enable restaurants to accept mobile orders.

1. ChowNow: Take orders through a website, Facebook page, or mobile app.
Restaurants that don’t want to funnel their customers to external websites or mobile apps can utilize ChowNow to offer mobile ordering through the channels they already use, such as their websites, branded mobile apps, and social media pages. Restaurants are notified as new orders come in through an iPad that sits next to the merchant’s POS, allowing employees to fulfill those orders immediately. ChowNow offers a number of menu management tools, which businesses can use to set their own delivery zones, add specials, and make quick changes to menus at any time. ChowNow will also build custom iPhone and Android apps for merchants. ChowNow costs $99 per location, per month, plus a $499 fee for the first location.

2. Zuppler: Add online ordering to a website or mobile app.
Merchants that already have existing websites or mobile apps in place can use Zuppler to add online order capabilities. Restaurants upload their dish lists to Zuppler, making sure to include any upsells or add-ons, and Zuppler provides them with customizable menus that can be added to their websites, apps, or social media pages. Customer can click on these menus to place their mobile food orders, which Zuppler forwards to the restaurant via fax, email, web, ePrint, or through the POS. Live order monitoring ensures that mobile orders aren’t left behind. One way that Zuppler lets restaurants create limited-time promotions and coupon codes, which are placed alongside certain menu items. Restaurants can choose a flat fee of $89 per month or a pay-as-you-go plan, which costs 9% per transaction.

3. Square Order: Allow customers to place pre-orders through via mobile.
Introduced by Square last year, Square Order is a mobile app that consumers can use to place orders at certain businesses before they’ve arrived. For example, a customer could place an order and pay for her morning cappuccino while she’s walking to her neighborhood coffee shop, and the drink would be ready to pick up as soon as she’s arrived. Customers also have the option to arrange for later pick up times. Allowing customers to pay for purchases without pulling out their wallets can speed up lines at busy cafes and quick-service restaurants, which is a major draw for businesses that use Square Order. The service available to merchants that use Square’s POS system. Square is offering Square Order to those merchants for free.

4. GrubHub: Accept mobile orders through a marketplace site.
GrubHub serves as both an online ordering tool and a marketing service for restaurants. Customers visit GrubHub, and they discover restaurants that offer delivery service nearby. In addition to accepting online orders through GrubHub’s website and mobile app, restaurants that partner with GrubHub can also accept orders through their own custom sites. The company’s OrderHub tool helps restaurants manage online orders with a tablet device, while DeliveryHub allows a restaurant’s drivers to update customers on the status of their orders in real-time using a smartphone. GrubHub charges restaurants based on the amount of business they receive.

5. eHungry: Offer online ordering with integrated payments.
Restaurants can use eHungry to quickly start accepting digital orders. Customers browse the menus that restaurants upload to their eHungry ordering websites, and they can pay for those orders via credit card or Paypal. Restaurants can decide whether to accept orders for pickup, delivery, dine-in, or catering, or all of the above, and they control how and when orders are sent in. (Most choose to have orders sent to the business via fax, email, printer, tablet, or through eHungry’s web dashboard.) Automated texts or calls can also be setup to notify employees when orders come through. eHungry offers features for generating coupons and promotions, along with re-ordering for regular customers. eHungry charges a 2.9% per-order fee.

6. Splick-It: Create mobile ordering apps with in-app payments.
Splick-It provides multi-location restaurants, hotels, convenience stores, and airports with the technology to create mobile and web ordering apps that include in-app payments. Restaurants have the option to use Splick-It’s app platform or to integrate the company’s ordering and payment API into the apps they already have built. Customers can place orders for takeout or delivery through the apps. Restaurants have the option to integrate Splick-It with their existing POS or to use the company’s enterprise-level mobile POS. Splick-It also supports beacon-based ordering, email marketing, and integrates with existing loyalty programs. Custom pricing is available.

Know of other tools that restaurant can use to offer mobile ordering? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.