6 Mobile Pre-Ordering Tools for Restaurants

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Reservation apps have made it easier for customers to book tables at restaurants, and mobile ordering apps have shaved seconds off the time it takes to process transactions, but one of the biggest pain points in dining — the time customers spend waiting for food to be cooked and brought to their tables — hadn’t been addressed until recently.

Using mobile technology, vendors are now helping diners recapture the time they spend waiting for the food they’ve paid for to be brought to their tables, while also improving operational efficiencies for partner restaurants. Here are six examples of apps that use mobile pre-ordering functionality to ensure piping hot dishes are ready-to-go immediately when customers arrive.

1. Allset: Cut down on wait times during breakfast and lunch.
Allset’s goal is to decrease the time people spend waiting around at restaurants. The mobile app offers tools for reserving tables and pre-ordering food. Consumers can select a restaurant, then scroll through a picture menu on the mobile app and decide what they’d like to order. With a few clicks, the consumer can then book a table, place the order, and pay for the meal (including tax and tip). Consumers identify themselves by name when they arrive, and food is brought over immediately. Right now, Allset is focused primarily on improving the lunchtime rush, however dinnertime service will be available in the future. Allset charges consumers $1 for every order placed through the app.

2. Settle: Pre-order to skip service delays.
Settle is a pre-ordering app that encourages consumers to order food when they’re in the office, at home, or on their way to participating restaurants. The app is all about eliminating the wait time involved in dining out. The company combines reservations, ordering, and payments features into one mobile app. It offers users the ability to browse menus, reserve tables, and place food and drink orders in just a few clicks. Settle can be used for both dine-in and take-out orders. Settle takes 10% from each bill paid through its platform.

3. RushOrder: Optimized ordering with real-time progress updates.
Consumers who use RushOrder never have to ask “What’s taking so long?” The mobile ordering app enables users to place orders for dine-in, take-out, and delivery, and get updates on the progress in real-time. RushOrder users can browse the app’s photo-driven menus and place orders before arriving at a restaurant in-person. They can also pay through the mobile app. Upon arrival, the customer’s meal should already be cooked and ready to eat. (A “RapidOrder” feature also allows users to quickly re-order their favorite dishes.) RushOrder is free to use, however some restaurants set higher prices for customers who place orders through the app.

4. Downtown: Use hyperlocal services to skip the line.
Downtown calls itself a “personal waiter.” The mobile app enables users to skip the line at busy restaurants by ordering and paying for their dishes through their smartphones. Aiming to solve the pain points associated with local shopping, Downtown has built a “commerce experience” that relies on iBeacons for both order placement and payment processing. iBeacon lets the restaurant know when the customer has arrived. Orders that are placed via Downtown are received on the merchant’s iPad or existing POS. Downtown says its tools increase re-orders and result in higher average ticket amounts.

5. Preo: Bypass lines and servers with mobile ordering tools.
Everyone has experienced the frustration of trying to get a server’s attention at a busy restaurant or bar. Preo has developed its own solution to this problem, providing users of its mobile app with tools for bypassing waiters and placing orders on their smartphones instead. Preo users can browse menus, place orders, and pay for those orders (including tips) on their mobile devices. Automatic notifications keep users updated on the progress of their orders, as well. Preo differentiates itself from competitors in the market by focusing not just on restaurants and bars, but also on stadiums, arenas, and concert venues.

6. Skip: Pre-order for faster service.
Available in Australia, Skip helps people order ahead with their smartphones at local coffee shops. Users can search for venues open nearby, click on the items they’d like to order, customize their orders (for example, asking for extra milk), pay with a credit or debit card, and then select what time they’d like to schedule a pickup. When the time arrives, the customer can skip the line and grab his or her order. Skip offers loyalty card integrations. The online dashboard for vendors includes operational features like past order histories, stock level controls, and daily purchase summaries. Business pricing varies from free to $13.20 per week, plus 2.475% of revenue earned through Skip, depending on the number of orders placed.

Know of other mobile pre-ordering tools? 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.