7 Order-Ahead Platforms for QSRs

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The pandemic has forced quick-service restaurants to get creative. With indoor dining restricted across much of the country, and sales down in areas where dine-in eating is allowed, restaurants are pivoting and beefing up their takeout operations.

According to a report by Dragontail Systems, 53% of people say they prefer carry-out over delivery during the pandemic. To keep pace with that demand, restaurants are investing more heavily in technology platforms that enhance end-to-end kitchen operations.

We’ve already covered some of the most popular curbside pickup platforms being used right now, but restaurants are unique beasts. Order management and delivery timing have to be precise for QSRs, leading industry-specific platforms to be more popular than solutions aimed at a wider market.

Here are seven platforms that restaurants can use to manage online orders and streamline their takeout operations during Covid-19.

1. Toast
Toast is using technology to facilitate no-contact guest experiences for QSRs. The company’s online ordering platform lets guests order ahead from virtually any device or location. QSRs can then accept payments online or using a touch-free handheld device at the customer’s vehicle. Orders are placed, processed, and paid within the Toast system, which means restaurants maintain total control over the guest relationship and they aren’t paying commissions to third-party platforms for each sale.

2. ChowNow
ChowNow’s online ordering system can handle pickup, delivery, curbside, and dine-in, so it’s popular among QSRs that are quickly changing their services based on evolving regulations. ChowNow’s restaurant clients can accept orders through branded iPhone and Android apps, as well as their own websites and using tablets at the checkout counter. The company’s proprietary hardware and software syncs menus across channels. A Square integration is used to send tickets right to the kitchen, with a custom printer, or straight to the POS. QSRs that want to start offering delivery can also tap ChowNow’s network of commission-free delivery partners.

3. MenuDrive
With MenuDrive, fast casual restaurants can quickly start accepting orders online for takeout or delivery. “Building” an online restaurant using MenuDrive’s tools takes less than an hour. After matching the branding and style, and uploading menus, restaurants can immediately start taking orders through desktop or mobile. Orders are received by the restaurant via text, email, or an online dashboard. MenuDrive does not charge a commission, and it provides restaurants with full reporting and customer data that can be used for future marketing efforts.

With consumer eating habits quickly changing, UEAT believes its order-ahead software can be a strategic asset for QSRs. The company’s contactless payment and ordering tools allow customers to view digital menus, place orders, and pay without the need for any human contact. Not only does the system reduce the amount of interaction needed between guests and employees, but UEAT says its tools increase the average bill size. Adaptive menu technology can also be used to automatically switch menu layouts and item availability depending on the time and day of the week. During Covid times, this feature could also be useful when certain dishes or ingredients are out of stock.

5. Restolabs
Restolabs is one of the most well-known companies in the space. The company’s online ordering system was popular among QSRs long before the pandemic, but as the demand for managing takeout orders rises, its technology is increasingly ubiquitous. One of the reasons for Restolabs’ popularity is because its software integrates with existing POS systems. Restolabs also offers widgets that restaurants can add to their websites to start accepting online or mobile orders in minutes. Restolabs provides clients with their own branded mobile order apps, as well.

6. Upserve
We’ve been covering Upserve’s restaurant management software for many years, but the company’s all-in-one platform is even more relevant now during the Covid era. Upserve’s order ahead system works in real-time, so orders go directly to the kitchen as soon as they’ve been accepted on the POS. Upserve’s platform is designed to be the only software a restaurant needs, and it seems to work best for restaurants that are interested in using its order management, inventory management, and payment management tools, along with features like online ordering and inventory controls.

7. Dragontail Systems
Dragontail works with a number of large restaurant chains, like Pizza Hut and Domino’s, on complete facilities management solutions. With takeout orders on the rise, Dragontail has started promoting its food ordering and delivery optimization solutions. Dragontail’s technology can make order pickups and contactless interactions from inside the kitchen more seamless by using a patent-pending optimization algorithm that streamlines the process. Dragontail has found a way to integrate food preparation, delivery, marketing operations and CRM software into a GPS-based algorithm that’s used to manage the entire operations chain in the restaurant.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

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.