Food Ordering

6 Tools Restaurants Can Use to Accept Mobile Orders

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The mobile ordering landscape is quickly evolving, with increases in consumer demand fueling the growth. Quick-service giant Panera says online ordering was responsible for eight percent of its total sales in Q4 2014. The restaurant’s executives are hoping this figure will grow to 30 to 50 percent within the next few years. Average tickets at QSRs and fast-casual restaurants are higher for mobile orders than those placed in-store, Delaget found, a trend compelling restaurants to adopt mobile ordering technology or risk being left behind. Even independently owned restaurants with just one or two locations are feeling the push to offer mobile ordering to their customers.

Since we covered the topic back in May, there’s been a steady uptick in interest surrounding mobile ordering solutions. Competition in the market has gotten stronger, and to help their platforms stand out, vendors have started adding more marketing features, like the ability to send push notifications and targeted deals. Here are six mobile ordering platforms restaurant owners can try.

1. ChowNow: Ordering, operations, and marketing tools for restaurants
ChowNow is quickly becoming an all-in-one solution for restaurants, with new marketing features for both customer acquisition and retention. The company provides a way for restaurants to offer customers a white-labeled branded experience, with mobile ordering apps, web ordering, and Facebook ordering for social media fans. In addition to enabling customers to place orders using their smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers, restaurants can also use ChowNow to send real-time discounts to their customers via push notifications. All customer information is centralized, and order frequencies, average ticket sizes, and peak order times are automatically logged. ChowNow’s Monthly plan costs $149 per location, plus a $199 setup fee.

2. Mando: Branded apps for mobile ordering
Mando’s approach to mobile ordering is to make the integration and implementation process as straightforward as possible for restaurant owners. Logos and branding are incorporated into a mobile app, and restaurants have their choice to accept orders for delivery, takeout, or dine-in. Restaurants can reach customers in real time with push notifications, and they can use order ratings to highlight the items that existing customers like the most. Mando’s mobile ordering solution also integrates with restaurants’ existing point-of-sale (POS) systems. Advanced reporting tools allow restaurants to view trends, top-selling items, and the names of leading customers. Mando’s Starter plan costs $40 per month, paid annually, plus an additional setup fee.

3. Zuppler: Online ordering for takeout or delivery
Zuppler’s digital ordering technology integrates into a restaurant’s existing website and mobile app, with the ability to match any brand’s identity. Consumers are able to see the names, descriptions, prices, and images of all menu items when ordering from their smartphones or tablets. Zuppler offers marketing features for upselling (for example, targeted menu add-ons) along with social media integrations that allow consumers to order through a restaurant’s Facebook page. Group ordering and catering features make it possible for independent restaurants to handle large orders (like those from local businesses). Restaurants retain ownership of their customer data, with the ability to generate reports on guest demographics, item popularity, and top customers. The mobile ordering platform costs $99 per month, plus additional fees for setup and credit card processing.

4. EZ-Chow: Digital ordering from an existing point-of-sale
EZ-Chow is a digital ordering platform that integrates with popular POS systems like Micros and Aloha. This allows restaurants to offer digital ordering without having to use separate payment processing systems. Restaurants can use EZ-Chow without purchasing additional hardware or converting to new POS technology. Along with branded ordering websites and the ability to implement loyalty programs, businesses own their own customer data. EZ-Chow offers tools for discounting and cross-selling for independent restaurants. The ordering system costs $129 per month with no hardware or software add-ons or additional credit card processing fees.

5. Olo: Digital ordering for multi-location restaurants
Olo is designed for restaurants with 10 or more locations. These businesses have two options when they sign up for Olo: They can direct customers to Olo’s own web and mobile apps to place orders online, or they can integrate Olo’s technology into their own branded apps and sites. Olo provides its clients with detailed administrative dashboards, which can be used to track purchasing and behavioral data. Popular features include a card-saving option and upselling tools, like auto-suggested add-ons for purchases. Olo also offers a delivery component, however restaurants don’t have to provide delivery in order to use the technology. Restaurants can contact Olo for custom pricing.

6. Allset: Mobile pre-ordering for faster table turnover
Allset isn’t a traditional mobile ordering platform, but it’s worth mentioning because it does offer a unique value proposition for restaurants. Using Allset, diners can pre-order lunches at nearby restaurants from their smartphones. By the time they arrive, their orders will be prepared and ready to eat. From the restaurant’s perspective, Allset provides a way to acquire new customers and increase table turnover. Orders are received and accepted through mobile, which means restaurants don’t need to purchase new hardware to use Allset. Allset charges consumers $1 for each order.

Know of other platforms that restaurants can use to manage mobile orders? 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.