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It’s no secret the food service industry has undergone dramatic change over the past three years. Online food ordering was already growing in popularity before the global pandemic, but it became a necessity in the restaurant industry and a means of survival.

Now, customers have grown accustomed to the convenience offered by online ordering systems, and the feature helps restaurants remain competitive in the current market. In fact, 71% of consumers surveyed by Intouch Insights in 2022 said they use mobile apps to complete restaurant purchases.

What Is an Online Ordering System?

The first step in choosing the best online ordering software for restaurants is understanding what is an online ordering system. In the most basic of terms, an online ordering system is an automated system that allows a restaurant to process online sales through a branded website or a mobile app.

Customers simply log on to the restaurant’s platform, add their food orders to a shopping cart much like they would when using other e-commerce platforms, then checkout and pay to place their orders. Once an online order is placed, the online ordering system submits it to the restaurant to prepare, package and, if applicable, deliver.


Why Should Restaurants Use Online Ordering Systems?

Why should a restaurant website feature an online ordering tool? Online ordering systems offer restaurants a variety of benefits and competitive advantages, including:

  • Increased efficiency – Online sales can result in quicker processes to fulfill orders.
  • Valuable customer data – When customers place online orders, they provide data that can be used to gain valuable insights.
  • Improved accuracy – Digitized orders can improve overall accuracy compared to taking orders over the phone and the possibility of information being lost in translation.
  • Streamlined operations – Accepting online orders can help streamline processes in the back of the house.
  • More customer loyalty – Improvements in efficiency and accuracy are bound to result in increased customer satisfaction that drives repeat business, and many online ordering systems feature customer loyalty programs, as well.

online menu for restaurants

Our Methodology to Choose the Best Online Menu Options for Restaurants

Selecting the best online menu system is vital for restaurants, especially in the digital age where online presence significantly influences customer choices. Here are the criteria we used for choosing the most suitable online menu system for restaurants. Each factor is rated on a scale of one to ten based on its importance, with ten being of utmost importance.

  1. User Interface and Experience (Importance Scale: 10/10)
    • Easy-to-navigate and visually appealing interface.
    • Mobile-friendly design for optimal viewing on various devices.
  2. Ease of Updating Menu Items (Importance Scale: 9/10)
    • Simple process for updating menu items, prices, and descriptions.
    • Real-time updates capability.
  3. Integration with Restaurant Website and Social Media (Importance Scale: 8/10)
    • Seamless integration with the restaurant’s website and social media platforms.
    • Ability to share menu updates across multiple channels.
  4. Customization Options (Importance Scale: 8/10)
    • Flexibility to customize the layout, design, and branding to match the restaurant’s theme.
    • Options to add images and detailed descriptions.
  5. Cost-Effectiveness (Importance Scale: 7/10)
    • Affordable pricing with transparent fee structures.
    • Scalable options as the restaurant grows.
  6. Online Ordering Functionality (Importance Scale: 9/10)
    • Integration of online ordering systems for takeout and delivery.
    • Secure payment processing options.
  7. Customer Interaction Features (Importance Scale: 7/10)
    • Features like customer reviews, ratings, and feedback options.
    • Option for customers to customize their orders.
  8. Analytics and Reporting (Importance Scale: 6/10)
    • Tools for tracking menu performance, customer preferences, and order history.
    • Insights for informed decision-making on menu changes.
  9. Multilingual Support (Importance Scale: 5/10)
    • Options for multiple languages to cater to a diverse customer base.
  10. Technical Support and Training (Importance Scale: 7/10)
    • Reliable customer support for technical issues.
    • Training resources for staff to manage the system efficiently.
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These criteria serve as a comprehensive guide to selecting or designing an online menu that not only showcases a restaurant’s offerings but also enhances the customer’s journey from discovery to dining.

Best Online Ordering Systems for Restaurants

Is your restaurant ready to accept online orders? Before you can get your online ordering system up and running, you have to select the right software to fulfill your needs. Be sure and consider the cost and available features from some of the top online ordering systems for restaurants in 2023.

1. ChowNow

Since ChowNow is commission-free, restaurants using this ordering system can maximize their revenue. The ordering app integrates with an existing POS system, and it features a variety of options. Customers can place orders using a branded app or on a restaurant’s own website, and they can choose in-store or curbside pickup. ChowNow is available for a flat monthly fee that ranges from $99 to $150.

2. Toast POS

Online ordering is available through the Toast POS system, which is built specifically for restaurants and offers them plenty of money-saving features. In fact, Toast claims restaurants save an average of $36,000 a year when they use Toast Online Ordering. Some of the most popular Toast POS features include a customer loyalty program, the ability to create and accept gift cards and restaurant inventory management. The total cost to adopt Toast POS for online ordering might include the costs to switch to its POS system, but Toast does offer a free calculator to help restaurants estimate their savings on its website.

3. Square for Restaurants

Customers who select the Square Terminal and Kitchen Display System as their POS system can opt to use Sqaure for Restaurants as their online ordering system, known for being streamlined and easy to use for both restaurants and customers. Restaurants can accept orders through multiple platforms such as Postmates, Chowly or UberEats, and the kitchen receives all the orders in a single simple interface. Once they start using Square for Restaurants, it’s easy for restaurant owners to activate delivery services, as well. Square for Restaurants is available in three pricing tiers, including free, $60 a month and custom subscriptions.

4. GloriaFood

Restaurant owners hoping to integrate online ordering with the restaurant’s existing website should consider adopting the GloriaFood online ordering system. GloriaFood provides mobile ordering and table reservation widgets that businesses can place on their website or Facebook page. Not only is a GloriaFood widget convenient, but it’s completely free. The company charges no transaction fees, commissions or hidden costs, although upgrades to advanced features are available for purchase.

online menu for restaurants

6. Clover Online Ordering

Restaurants that adopt the Clover POS system can accept online orders through two options: a Clover-powered website and app or The.Ordering.app. Clover helps its users set up their online menus and streamline their ordering process, plus the Clover online ordering system enhances customer loyalty by tracking rewards, promotions and coupon codes, as well as customer feedback. Clover charges no subscription fees to use its online ordering option, and it’s free to install for customers using a Clover POS, although there is a 3.5% plus 10 cents charge for credit card processing.

7. FreshBytes

Designed for small- and medium-sized businesses, FreshBytes offers smaller restaurants many of the same powerful features available to large chains. Lauded as one of the simplest and fastest-growing online ordering platforms, FreshBytes provides users with a branded, mobile-friendly and commission-free experience that includes options like social media ordering, menu item photos, premium website designs and one-touch reordering. Pricing for Freshbytes starts at $89 a month.

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8. Upserve

Upserve is a full-service restaurant management system that also includes options for bars, wineries, coffee shops, bakeries and more. Upserve’s software integrates with online ordering marketplaces like Postmates, DoorDash, Caviar and UberEats, so customers get the best of multiple worlds. Upserve’s software also offers valuable data analytics, so restaurant owners or managers can track their venue’s performance and strategically work toward improved customer satisfaction. Upserve plans start at $59 per month.

9. MenuDrive

MenuDrive adds an extra marketing focus to its online ordering software. Users submit their menus, photos and other information to MenuDrive, and the team there builds a custom, branded online menu for the restaurant. The online ordering system also features automated email campaigns and other integrated marketing tools to help restaurants build a dedicated customer base. The basic MenuDrive plan starts with a $99 monthly fee per location, along with one-time setup fees of $99. The service also includes a 3.5% credit card processing fee plus 15 cents per transaction.

10. Restolabs

Restolabs is a popular online ordering system for restaurants thanks to its ease of use and its being commission free. Restolabs is packed with plenty of useful features, including Facebook ordering, multilingual support and real-time analytics. The service provides a fairly basic interface that allows users to enter their menus and then copy and paste widgets right into their websites. The pricing for Restolabs online ordering starts at $45 a month.

Online Ordering System Key Features Pricing
ChowNow Commission-free, POS integration, various options $99 to $150 per month
Toast POS Money-saving features, customer loyalty program Custom, estimated savings
Square for Restaurants Streamlined and efficient, multiple platform support Free, $60/month, custom
GloriaFood Integration with existing website, mobile ordering, free widget Free, upgrades available
Clover Online Ordering Clover-powered website and app, enhanced customer loyalty No subscription fee, 3.5% + 10 cents for credit card processing
FreshBytes Commission-free, branded and mobile-friendly experience Starts at $89 per month
Upserve Full-service restaurant management, data analytics Starts at $59 per month
MenuDrive Custom branded online menu, automated email campaigns $99 per month + setup fee, 3.5% + 15 cents per transaction
Restolabs Commission-free, Facebook ordering, real-time analytics Starts at $45 per month

What Software do Restaurants Use to Take Orders?

online menu for restaurants

Most restaurants rely on a POS system, or point-of-sale system, for entering food orders, adding special instructions, payment processing and printing receipts. Many POS systems also feature tools that help restaurant management predict future sales, make labor hiring and scheduling decisions and oversee restaurant inventories. Some POS software provides additional tools for the online ordering process, while others can be integrated with third-party online ordering software.


What Is the Best Digital Menu for Restaurants?

When it comes to choosing the best digital menu for restaurants, MenuDrive stands out as an exceptional option. While various online ordering systems may offer their own advantages, MenuDrive goes the extra mile by providing a top-notch digital menu designed by a team of professionals. This sets it apart as the ideal choice for restaurant owners who want a premium, customized, and branded experience for their customers.

MenuDrive’s digital menus offer several key features that make them stand out in the market:

  • Customization: The team of experts at MenuDrive will work closely with restaurant owners to create a menu that perfectly aligns with the restaurant’s branding and theme. From color schemes to fonts and layout, every aspect of the menu can be tailored to reflect the restaurant’s unique identity.
  • User-Friendly Interface: The digital menus are designed with a user-friendly interface, making it easy for customers to navigate and explore the offerings effortlessly. Intuitive navigation enhances the overall dining experience and encourages repeat orders.
  • Mobile Compatibility: In today’s mobile-centric world, having a mobile-compatible menu is crucial. MenuDrive ensures that the digital menus are fully responsive and optimized for various devices, including smartphones and tablets, ensuring customers can conveniently browse the menu on any platform.
  • Real-Time Updates: With MenuDrive’s digital menus, restaurant owners can make real-time updates to their offerings, prices, and promotions. This feature allows for greater flexibility in adjusting the menu based on seasonal changes, inventory availability, or any other modifications.
  • Visual Appeal: MenuDrive focuses on creating visually appealing menus with high-quality images and enticing descriptions of dishes. This helps in enticing customers and stimulating their appetite even before they step foot into the restaurant.
  • Interactive Features: The digital menus can incorporate interactive features such as the ability to add special instructions or customize orders according to individual preferences. This personalized touch enhances customer satisfaction and makes the ordering process more enjoyable.
  • Analytics and Insights: MenuDrive provides valuable analytics and insights, giving restaurant owners access to data on customer behavior, popular items, peak ordering times, and more. This data can be used to make informed business decisions and optimize menu offerings for better sales.
  • Seamless Integration: MenuDrive’s digital menus seamlessly integrate with their online ordering system, ensuring a smooth and efficient ordering process. Customers can easily place orders directly from the digital menu, streamlining the entire dining experience.
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In conclusion, when seeking the best digital menu for restaurants, MenuDrive emerges as a top contender. With its team of professionals dedicated to creating a customized and branded experience, along with its array of user-friendly features, MenuDrive sets the standard for excellence in the realm of digital menus for restaurants. Embracing MenuDrive’s digital menu solution can significantly enhance a restaurant’s online presence and elevate the dining experience for customers, fostering greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.


Are There Free Online Ordering Options for Restaurants?

online menu for restaurants

There are multiple options available for restaurants seeking online ordering options, including some that include a free version. Some services, such as Square for Restaurants and Toast POS are free to customers who subscribe to the brand’s POS systems. Other online ordering options, such as GloriaFood are free to use the basic system with optional upgrades.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is MenuDrive’s digital menu for restaurants?

MenuDrive’s digital menu for restaurants is a cutting-edge solution that offers a customized and branded experience for customers. It is a user-friendly, visually appealing, and mobile-compatible menu designed by a team of professionals to showcase a restaurant’s offerings in an enticing manner.

How is MenuDrive’s digital menu different from other online ordering systems?

MenuDrive’s digital menu stands out from other online ordering systems by offering a premium and personalized approach. Unlike generic templates, MenuDrive’s team works closely with restaurant owners to create a menu that perfectly reflects the restaurant’s branding and theme.

What customization options are available for digital menus with MenuDrive?

MenuDrive’s digital menus can be fully customized, including color schemes, fonts, layout, and images. This level of customization allows restaurant owners to align the menu with their brand identity, making it a seamless part of their online presence.

Is the digital menu mobile-friendly?

Yes, MenuDrive’s digital menus are fully responsive and optimized for mobile devices, ensuring a seamless browsing experience for customers using smartphones and tablets.

Can restaurants make real-time updates to their digital menus?

Absolutely. With MenuDrive’s digital menus, restaurant owners can make real-time updates to their menu items, prices, and promotions. This flexibility allows them to adapt to changing circumstances and keep their offerings up-to-date.

What interactive features are available in MenuDrive’s digital menus?

MenuDrive’s digital menus can include interactive features like special instructions and customization options, enabling customers to tailor their orders according to their preferences.

How does MenuDrive’s digital menu enhance the overall dining experience?

MenuDrive’s digital menu enhances the dining experience by offering an intuitive and visually appealing interface. Customers can easily navigate the menu, explore dishes with enticing descriptions and images, and place orders seamlessly.

Can restaurant owners access analytics and insights with MenuDrive’s digital menu?

Yes, MenuDrive provides valuable analytics and insights on customer behavior, popular items, peak ordering times, and more. This data empowers restaurant owners to make informed business decisions and optimize their menu offerings for better sales.

Does MenuDrive’s digital menu integrate with its online ordering system?

Yes, MenuDrive’s digital menu seamlessly integrates with its online ordering system, streamlining the ordering process for customers. Customers can place orders directly from the digital menu, enhancing efficiency and convenience.

How can MenuDrive’s digital menu benefit my restaurant business?

MenuDrive’s digital menu can benefit your restaurant business by providing a customized and visually appealing menu that attracts and engages customers. It helps create a strong online presence, enhances customer satisfaction, and improves overall sales and profitability.

Is MenuDrive suitable for all types of restaurants?

Yes, MenuDrive’s digital menu is suitable for all types of restaurants, whether it’s a small cafe, a fine dining establishment, or a fast-food joint. The customization options allow each restaurant to tailor the digital menu to their unique identity and offerings.

How can I get started with MenuDrive’s digital menu for my restaurant?

To get started with MenuDrive’s digital menu for your restaurant, simply contact their team and discuss your requirements. They will guide you through the process of creating a personalized and high-quality digital menu for your business.

Image: Depositphotos

More in: Coronavirus Biz Advice, Restaurant / Food Service Business


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