Guide to Mobile Ordering

What is mobile ordering for hospitality businesses?

Mobile ordering menu

What is mobile ordering?

Mobile ordering is the process of ordering food or other items via software used on mobile. That’s usually called an Order and Pay system, but there’s various names – a table ordering app, QR code menu, an Order app, a dining app, and much more. In takeaway, it can be called an online ordering system, takeaway software, and many more. 

Mobile ordering usually includes a payment gateway, which allows a customer to use Google or Apple Pay, or otherwise enter their details and pay for the item they’ve chosen. 

Why use mobile ordering?

Does mobile ordering affect customer spending? 

Here’s the full article – but mobile ordering does seem to increase customer spending. That boils down to four reasons. First, the latency and availability of the option to order (you can order any time). Second, add-ons, customisable options, and basket-building working better (customers add modifiers and sides). Third, payment is less painful. And finally, you can collect data better via mobile and mobile ordering so you can continuously optimise your own menu in a more informed way. 

Does mobile ordering affect operations?

There are direct cost saves to mobile ordering. The cost of labour is rising year on year, and with new immigration laws that’s set to accelerate considerably. Staff costs are especially high per head in hospitality because staff turnover is so high – restaurants can expect to get through several waiters per year, so there’s salaries, and then the cost of hiring. The other big direct cost is menus, which can cost £1000s per year per restaurant.

Then, there’s indirect ways that mobile ordering improves operations. Costs saved in more accurate order taking, for example. Costs saved as previous economic dead spaces are now practical to house a booth in. Costs saved as the “queue” space can be given over to additional seating. 

Finally there’s the generally slicker operation which results. Physically noting what each person wants to have, and then manually going around and taking payment, is a laborious and inefficient. Payment – and orders – are taken more easily and slickly through an order and pay system.

How does mobile ordering affect experience?

A maths question: is it better to have five waiters on minimum wage or two hosts on double that? Perhaps it depends – if you free your staff from the grunt work of waiting; the taking or orders and in particular, payment – means that you can allocate the same labour resource pot to ensuring that your customers are having a great time, and solving their problems immediately. 

Additionally, we ceremonialise payments with mobile ordering. The black book, with the bill – or the remembered order recited fully at the counter.  We make our customers ask to pay twice, for the bill, and for the card reader. That ceremony underlines the spend as an event. 

Mobile ordering is the only real way customers now do takeaway

Mobile ordering is not very common in restaurants, but it’s becoming much more so. In takeaway orders, mobile ordering is the dominant way that orders take place. It’s possible to take an order over the phone; but now, customers prefer and trust software more than recounting phone details out loud. 

Is it possible to use a mobile ordering hybrid system? 

Mobile ordering menu

In-person

Ordering in restaurants is mostly in person, but there’s lots of hybrid systems in which mobile ordering is only used for part of the space. This is particularly good for big, boxy venues or places with differentiated tiers. For example, in a crowded bar with a table, patrons will sit at the table defensively and not go to the bar because they don’t wish to sacrifice their spot. A mobile ordering system would enable the venue to make that table de facto VIP – premium prices for table delivery – which patrons would happily pay for. Or, in a tea room on the edge of a country estate, it might work better for tables inside the tea room to flag down a waiter… but the picnic table around the corner could have a QR code menu, taking the hassle out of monitoring the space.

For takeaway

Plenty of restaurants continue to take orders over the phone for older patrons. However, the cliche that “old people can’t use technology” is less true than it has been. A dwindling portion of users will find it easier to browse a physical menu and ring than to simply choose via the mobile system. A hybrid system between Deliveroo and StoreKit Takeaway is very common; Takeaway software is generally best targeted towards your returning patrons, who will find you and buy from you directly, with our without deliveroo – especially if they know it’s cheaper.

 

What can I do to ensure mobile ordering will work?

The first thing you can do is to build a great digital menu for your restaurant.

Better digital menus include:

Modifiers and customisation options

This is the main way in which digital menus have been shown to boost customer spending, so it’s really important to ensure that every item has something you can add, and a suggested paired side.

Pictures

Getting pictures right is difficult! But it’s important that you do it – Deliveroo’s research shows that picture items get clicked on around 20%  more than non-picture counterparts.

Easy to navigate

Ensuring that you use categories and descriptions properly will ensure that your menu is easy to find its way around.

 

How should I choose between mobile ordering providers? 

To app? Or not to app?

Mobile ordering menu

One of the defining differences between different mobile ordering systems is whether they incorporate an app or not. Some providers will have both an app and a web solution available – for example, you can order a Deliveroo in both – but when providers do this, they’re generally keen to get people to download their app. 

On the one hand, apps are good. You can have push notifications with an app. You get a homepage icon on your user’s phone. An app has superior touch and feel quality to web solutions. People like having an app: “we have an app” puts your business on the map. It’s also a fair bit faster than a web solution, which makes a huge difference.

On the other, you’re asking people to download an app, and if you’re in-store, they will find an app download a tiresome chore, and will probably delete the app afterwards. Deliveroo works as an app because it’s a marketplace people return to again and again – people might be one-time users of your restaurants and will resent the download.

StoreKit Order and Pay is a progressive web app, which is a third solution. It retains the advantages of apps, such as the quality of feel of an app, but doesn’t require download. You can read more about the differences below.

 Read about progressive web apps

 

Pricing

Generally, mobile ordering systems will therefore be paid by one of the following ways. A recurring software fee known as a SaaS fee; commission pricing; and transaction pricing, which is how StoreKit Order and Pay is priced. 

Businesses which charge SaaS fees are likely to be cheaper than more expensive commission-based solutions like FlipDish. Both commission-based solutions and SaaS based solutions will charge their fees in addition to a third party processor like Stripe. Transaction or payment-based pricing is therefore likely to be the cheapest. It replaces your payment processing fee, so there’s a saving in addition to the charge.

 Read about pricing

UX quality

What is UX? In this video, Cecile takes us through the StoreKit Order and Pay UX to show what UX means in the context of Order and Pay. UX is for “user experience” – and it’s the top thing you should consider when selecting a mobile ordering solution. That’s because this is a bigger incursion into your restaurant, pub, hotel experience than a digital system is previously likely to have done.

There’s no hard rules to UX – it’s what you think is the nicest experience – but it is a discipline with internal rules and practices. Here’s some pointers:

Does it respect basic design principles? If you’re not a designer, there’s ways to test this – do you ever feel disorientated by the software? Do you know what you’re doing on first use? Would you feel comfortable giving the software to a digital beginner to figure out? Second, does it look beautiful? Do menus make you want to eat what’s there? Is the experience designed for hospitality, or is it a retail e-commerce solution which has been adapted?

Here’s a list of the top 5 table ordering apps ; or for online, our list of alternatives to Wix restaurant to get you started figuring out the competitive landscape if you don’t like StoreKit’s solutions.

 

Mobile Ordering definitions and Lexicon

StoreKit launched an order and pay system called StoreKit Order & Pay. But between digital menus, order and pay apps, online ordering systems, online ordering apps… it can be difficult to understand what we’re talking about. Here are some of the differences. 

What is an order and pay system?

An order and pay system like StoreKit Order and Pay is any technology or combination of technologies which allows you to order, and then to pay. It generally refers to in-house table ordering, but can refer to takeaway or to ordering from any number of places besides tables – booths, bags, baskets, waiting rooms, or anything.

StoreKit Order & Pay

What is an Order and Pay app?

An order and pay app is similar to an order and pay system, but they’ve specified that it’s an app. It’s a bit tougher to define whether something is an app or not than you would think, because our Order and Pay system is a progressive web app which is app-like software designed to run out of web pages. 

So what is a progressive web app? 

That’s… complicated. We’ve written a whole different blog for that. The short answer is, you don’t have to download it but it’ s much faster than an app. 

What is a table ordering app

To be a table ordering app, it has to be an app, and it has to be designed to go to a table. The top 5 table ordering apps.

What’s a digital menu?

A digital menu is any menu which is online. That makes order and pay systems a subset of digital menus, which includes things like pdfs put online.

What is… a dining app?

A dining app is the same as a table order app or a pub app.

What is an online ordering system? 

An online ordering system is anything which enables you to order online. That means it goes beyond food; and the legacy market before the covid pandemic

What is a QR code menu ?

A QR-code menu is a menu which can be accessed via a QR code.

How to build a QR code menu