Well-served customers are happy customers. You don’t want to keep them waiting for ages to get their food. Yummies at your restaurant can be delivered without delays or errors if you optimize the way orders are processed and that is by implementing online ordering for restaurants.

We’ll talk about business process automation and an online ordering system that help boost the performance of restaurants, avoid staff turnover, reduce labor costs as well as introduce a technological touch that can create an alluring restaurant experience.

What are some popular types of automated restaurant ordering solutions?

Ordering is a vital element of a customer’s interaction with a restaurant. It’s usually at this stage that customers start forming opinions about your establishment: How good is the menu? How well are the dishes described? How fast can I order? Your goal is to make as good of an impression as you possibly can. And here’s where online menu ordering comes in.

Self-order kiosks

Self-order kiosks let customers order and pay using cash-free methods. You can implement kiosks either as your restaurant’s only ordering solution or launch them alongside wait staff.

Self-order kiosks are best suited for eateries that want to emphasize their quick service. With the online ordering software for restaurants, your customers will be able to place and pay for orders through a large touchscreen without having to stand in line or wait for a waiter. With little waiting time, you’ll be able to serve more customers.

And because orders from a restaurant kiosk go directly to the kitchen, the chance that a customer will get the wrong order is low. Self-order kiosks also let your customers customize orders, removing ingredients they’re allergic to or don’t like or even creating new combinations from available ingredients.

Fast food restaurant chains such as KFC, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s have been installing self-service kiosks across US locations. McDonald’s is even introducing them globally.

KFS self-service kiosks
Source: Dribbble shot animation by Ben Breckler

Tablet ordering

Tablet ordering systems are a newer and better version of traditional menus. The benefits they offer are similar to those of self-order kiosks: reduced wait times, automated checkout, improved order accuracy, and the ability to customize orders. Tablets offer a more personal touch than a traditional menu and work better in fancier establishments.

For both kiosk and tablet systems to work, you’ll need a mobile ordering app for iOS or Android that’s designed for your restaurant. If you want to use different hardware devices in the same restaurant (for instance, Android kiosks and iOS tablets), you could develop a cross-platform application with Flutter.

Your online ordering system for restaurants should offer full control over the menu. You should be able to quickly update the menu from the admin interface, take care of inventory (getting notifications from the kitchen when something runs out), and look through customer order statistics.

Source: Dribbble shot by Michael Herrera

Online ordering

You can easily add the ability to place and pay for orders on your restaurant’s existing website. With this feature in place, users can reserve tables, place orders in advance, and order takeaway. You can pair an online ordering POS with a restaurant food delivery app and deliver meals directly to your customers’ doorsteps.

Source: Dibbble shot animation by Johny Vino

Text ordering

Ordering food by text is another way to create a mobile restaurant ordering system.

The ability to order food from a favorite eatery and pick it up when it’s ready is appealing to many people. When you’re on the go and have little time to order and wait for food, this can be an ideal option. This feature can be implemented either as part of a larger online ordering system for business (a restaurant mobile application) or as a standalone solution – for instance, your customers can place an order through popular messengers such as Viber, WhatsApp, and Telegram.

You can also let customers use chatbots to order. Chatbots are a great way to provide a personalized customer experience without hiring additional personnel or making your employees answer texts on top of their other work. There are many large fast food chains benefitting from chatbot technology – Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, for instance. Their chatbots can accept orders and answer customers’ questions, which makes both order processing and customer support more efficient and available 24/7.

Now that you’re familiar with the kinds of restaurants with online ordering, we’re going to tell you how the SteelKiwi team created a POS system for restaurant.

Online food ordering restaurants: Steelkiwi creates a POS system

Recently, we had a project involving restaurant POS system in Belgium. Our client, a restaurateur and CEO, was looking to expand his business and offer customers a waiter-free restaurant and something more than regular online food ordering websites provide. He shared his idea about the CanTho online ordering system with SteelKiwi. CanTho would let customers order dishes from the menu or modify menu items to their liking using a kiosk, then pay through a terminal.

Cantho terminal screenshot
Source: Steelkiwi.com

How do CanTho kiosks work?

Kiosks in the restaurant reduce lines and decrease wait times for guests. Each kiosk has a tablet running the CanTho app, a Valina terminal, and a wireless printer hooked to the local network that prints out confirmation receipts for customers. To make sure all orders are numbered, visitors take special flags and enter the numbers on those flags when creating orders.

The application is connected to a cloud server, which sends customer orders to Lightspeed, a trusted POS that we use to handle taxes. There are also two other printers: one for the kitchen and one for the bar, both connected to Lightspeed. These printers print out receipts that are different from the customer receipt.

The system needs to validate customer orders, so CanTho sends order information to the cloud server that confirms each request. Once an order is verified, the user needs to enter the order number on their flag and pay via the terminal.

Once the user pays, payment information is sent to the cloud server, which sends it to Lightspeed. Lightspeed calculates taxes and returns the order information. This information is then printed in the form of paper receipts.

Here’s a diagram visualizing the flow of the CanTho app.

Diagram visualizing the flow kiosk workflow
Source: Steelkiwi.com

What if...?

Maybe you’re wondering about the visitors who will be interacting with the application. You may ask, What if something goes wrong? What if visitors need help? We thought about that too and decided to place a Get Help button on all screens.

If a visitor happens to need help at any point when ordering, they can press this button and a staff member will assist them. Over each kiosk is a light bulb that lights up red when a user presses the Get Help button. This light bulb helps staff members assist the customer quickly. Or the visitor can learn how to order on their own using a guide to Can Tho kiosk:

Cantho kiosk helping screen
Source: Steelkiwi.com

How did we integrate a POS system?

We wanted to provide users with convenient service and allow them to pay right after placing an order. This required us to provide a smooth payment flow, and that’s where we faced a challenge.

We needed to implement a payment terminal to enable correct price calculations, including taxes. Our client needed to choose one of two terminals: Yomani or Valina. Since Yomani was a bit outdated, our client and the Steelkiwi team settled on the Valina payment terminal, as it’s a reliable solution that can accept any method of electronic payment, which is convenient for users. It fits any kiosk, vending machine, or other housing for EVA-compliant terminals. It also accepts contactless payments via cards and mobile devices.

What receipts do users get?

It was critical to ensure that CanTho users get the necessary receipts. The chef, the bartender, and the client should each get a different printed receipt.

The customer gets a receipt at the kiosk to know their order has been accepted and see the total amount with value-added tax (VAT). The chef gets a receipt that has information about food ordered, whereas the bartender gets a receipt for drinks. The official receipt with VAT is also printed out at the bar and delivered to the customer. This receipt with VAT proves the transaction is lawful and shows the tax percentage.

The logic for price calculations is specific because it needs to take into account the value-added tax percentage during all calculations. The restaurant can charge visitors two types of VAT taxes. The first is charged when guests eat in the restaurant and the second is charged when they order takeaway.

Lightspeed allowed us to perform all VAT calculations. The service has a private API that we used to send orders and retrieve all price-related data.

What’s there to add?

If you’re looking to maximize your kitchen capacity, serve more customers, and increase customer satisfaction, you can’t go wrong with an online ordering system. Thoroughly analyze which solution is best for you – a self-order kiosk, tablet ordering, or text ordering – and find a good team of developers to assist and guide you in translating the business logic for your service into a well-performing application.

If you want deep technical analysis, get in touch with us and we’ll help you analyze your idea from a technical standpoint and advise you on how to make your app user-friendly and automate your business.

Check out our portfolio to see how we’ve helped our clients with business process automation.