Online Food Ordering Systems: How To Create A Restaurant Online Ordering Website

Who doesn't love a good meal? We do love it. But even if you aren't among belly-gods and foodies, you still have to eat every day. And if you don't have time to cook, various dining facilities would come to your rescue.

But what if you can't go to a diner to get your lunch (too busy, feeling unwell, whatever!)? That's right, then you have no choice but to order home delivery using special digital solutions. It's about all sorts of restaurant ordering websites and applications, of course.

These services have become very popular recently (mainly due to the pandemic). As projections show, next to 850 million consumers are expected to use them constantly. Isn't it impressive?

In short, now is the best time to create an online ordering system for restaurants. Surely, you must properly think over its functionality to cover the most burning customers’ needs so as not to fail. And we're happy to help you with our development guide.

Our new piece will be useful to both startups and restaurant owners forced to work on the takeout principle during the coronavirus. However, first things first.

We'll start simple, with just basics about online food ordering systems and stuff like that, and then get down to specifics. As a result, you'll learn what to consider in the development process and how to make a food delivery website sucсessfull.

What is an Online Ordering System for Restaurants?

Before we explain to you how to create an online ordering system for a restaurant, we’d like to make a little introduction, so that you could get a better picture of the market situation.

Online food delivery market 

If we tell you that online food delivery software is now huge, it may sound rather groundless. So, instead of being unfounded and too self-confident, we provide you with some statistics to prove our point. It'll make a bigger impression than just words, which means we'll manage to convince you.

  • Notice the growth in the market size: its profits are expected at least $ 550 million by 2025.
  • The revenue in the Online Food Delivery market is forecasted to reach US$1.22tn in 2024.
  • In the Meal Delivery market, the number of users is expected to reach 2.5bn users by 2028.
  • The popularity of restaurant ordering system software has increased by more than 285% during the pandemic (for obvious reasons: after all, people are in no hurry to be in the crowd). 
  • According to statistics, next to 85% of Americans order food online several times a week. That’s why, as other studies say, today a restaurant without a digital delivery service loses almost 75% of its customers (which is quite a pity, right?).

Major market players

We’ve discussed the market popularity in general, but what about its major players (best online food ordering systems)? Who are they today? And do you have a chance to successfully compete with them?

Let's start with who exactly you have to rival. If we believe Statista (and we have no reason to doubt this reliable resource), currently, the American market is being dominated by such online food ordering solutions as Grubhub, DoorDash, Domino, UberEats, Postmates (we'll detail some of them below in the article). They've conquered over 85% of the US meal delivery market.

Now let's look at the second question: what are your chances of achieving success in a highly competitive environment? The answer is high enough, provided you think step by step how to build a food delivery website, and if you do so in advance (meaning, before starting an online food business). Happily, our article is here to help you.

And first of all, we propose to study the main 4 business models so that you can choose the one, which suits you best.

Restaurant Ordering Software: 4 Business Models  

Existing restaurant business

If you’re a restaurant business owner, you cannot neglect the audience of customers who order home delivery online (otherwise your whole project might start losing money). We hope you understand why this is so important (we did our best to convince you).

And if you don't want to partner with intermediary platforms (discussed below), the only way to go is to add a food ordering system to your site (assuming you already have it).


Yeah, the cost to develop online food ordering systems isn’t that low, but if you don't pay it, you’ll end up losing a lot more.

Cooperation with restaurants (no delivery)

If you don’t have a running restaurant business, but you still don’t mind joining the number of those who make money on it, the most reasonable thing to do is to go with an on-demand platform. You just develop a food ordering system, which serves as an intermediary between eating facilities and the customer. You don't do anything else, the delivery is also left to the dining establishments.

In addition to restaurants, you can partner with catering companies and other similar institutions.

What is your catch?

You provide restaurants with new customers, and they (namely, the restaurants), in turn, pay you a certain fee per the order (usually up to 15%).

What to consider when choosing this business model?

Make sure the ordering process is as simple as possible. If a client has to spend a lot of time figuring out how to choose a restaurant and the like, he'll probably get angry and annoyed, which might result in him leaving your site.

Who is already using the model in question?

Among the best online food ordering systems that have chosen the role of intermediary are Delivery Hero and Grubhub. And they are doing quite great!

Cooperation with restaurants (delivery included)

A more advanced version of the previous model is an online meal ordering system, which not only introduces the client to restaurants (figuratively speaking) but also performs delivery itself. Thus, you'll have another leverage to persuade dining facilities to take part in your enterprise.

The scheme of operation of such platforms is similar to the above option: the client places an order on the website and goes to the page of the selected restaurant. His dish is being cooked, after which it should be packaged and handed over to the courier (another group of users that you should attract).

What should you consider in the first place?

Ease of ordering remains paramount, but now you also need to ensure a fast delivery process (within half an hour top).

Who is already using the model in question?

Let’s mention such solutions as Caviar, Deliveroo, and Doordash.

Virtual kitchen (on-demand)

Don't have a restaurant but still have no desire to be limited to the role of just an intermediary? Okay, then try to figure out how to create an online food ordering system, which works like a virtual kitchen. The option is the most difficult and costly to implement, but if you do it right, you'll get a lot of bonuses in the long run.

How does it work?

You don't partner with restaurants; instead, you hire a staff of chefs to prepare meals ordered by customers. Also, you arrange delivery.

You need neither room with tables where customers will sit nor waiters to serve these unexisting tables. You work only for remote clients. But there is a blot on the landscape too: to be precise, a problem with checking the quality of the prepared dishes.

And of course, you must have a special website with a menu.

Who is already using the model in question?

The best site to order food online (at least very popular) is the Indian chain Rebel Foods. Besides, don't forget about SpoonRocket and Sprig.

Main Benefits of a Food Ordering System 

Let's take a closer look at what each party to the process gets: consumers, restaurants (regardless of whether they create online food ordering websites themselves or use intermediary platforms), and the owner of the on-demand system.

Advantages of online food ordering for customers

  • Safety in a pandemic. The less contact with the outside world, the less chance of contracting coronavirus;

  • No cooking! Moreover, you get both the cooked dish and the opportunity to stay in the comfort of your own home;

  • No need to communicate with the waiters, which some people may see as a big plus too;

  • Saving time. No need to waste time to go somewhere for lunch, just use the restaurant food ordering system, and your meal will be brought directly to your home;

  • Independence from weather conditions. Agree, going to a diner in the rain is hardly pleasant... surely, you can cook something yourself, but why, if there is online delivery?

  • Variety of dishes. You can try new dishes every day, and do it at home, comfortably (say, watching a TV series).

  • No dirty dishes. When you cook yourself, you inevitably face the problem of a large number of dirty dishes (you need to wash pots, pans, etc.). Online delivery saves you these troubles.

  • 24/7 access. Many restaurants are open 24 hours a day, so you can order pizza or sushi even at midnight.

Benefits of Online Ordering for Restaurants

  • Increasing the customer base. Not all customers love to dine out, but they won't mind ordering food online.

  • Better loyalty of existing customers. Those consumers who visit your restaurant now and then would be glad if, in addition to offline service, you offer them an online one too.

  • Improved competitiveness. There are many restaurants and other food establishments on the market (and new ones open every year), and in order to stay afloat, you need to be better than others. And creating the food online ordering system (or partnering with existing on-demand platforms) is one more way to strengthen your market position.

  • Greater recognition. By being present on different platforms and sites, you increase the chances that people who might otherwise never know about your establishment will find out about it.

  • Automation of order management. Any digital system is designed to simplify business management to one degree or another. In this case, you save time when processing orders.

  • Bigger earnings. All of the above leads to the fact that the profit of the restaurant business is growing (more loyal customers, less order processing time, savings on staff, etc.).

Startup-aimed advantages of online food ordering systems for restaurants

We believe this one's pretty cut and dry: you create your own business, which brings you money. In addition to the source of profit, you get the opportunity to manage a cool and interesting project that can become your life's work.

So your task is to figure out how to make a food ordering website and get down to business. You have a lot to do!. Among other things, you'll have to invite restaurant owners and customers to your website, and the benefits described above are the arguments you can resort to when attracting them.

Is there an opportunity to make your restaurant’s online ordering system even more profitable? You’ll find the answer in our article.

By the way… it's time to understand the principle of operation of all these systems, which we’ve been discussing for quite some time.

How Do Digital Restaurant Ordering Systems Work?

The whole scheme is extremely simple:

  • The consumer feels hungry, but he is too lazy to go to lunch somewhere. He decides to order online so that the food is brought to him right to the door of his apartment.

  • He opens the website and looks at the menu of your restaurant (or looks for a restaurant according to his taste, if we are talking about an on-demand multi-vendor food ordering system).

  • The customer chooses a dish he likes and places an order, specifying the time and delivery address, payment method (cash or online), etc.

  • The restaurant receives the order and contacts the consumer to clarify the details (which is an optional step, it all depends on the particular institution). 

  • The restaurant staff processes the order and cooks and packs the meal, after which employees contact the delivery service.

  • The courier delivers the orders to the customer and takes payment (if the order wasn’t paid online).

Key Features of Online Food Ordering Systems

Your food ordering system for restaurants must have at least 3 access panels, each with its own set of features (see the picture below).

key features of online food ordering system

Ideally, you should also add an admin panel to simplify site management.

Let’s Make a Food Ordering Website Special

So how to make an online ordering system stand out? How to increase its attractiveness in the eyes of potential users?

There is no guaranteed formula, there are just some useful tips we gladly share with you:

  • Consider the specifics of the market. When it comes to culinary and all sorts of diners, a lot depends on the specifics of a particular region. In different countries, people may have different eating habits, which partly affects the way they're used to ordering food. So do a good job of researching the market before starting your project (however, we'll talk about this in more detail in another section of our article).

  • Make cool photo content. The photo content of the online restaurant ordering system should look tasty to arouse the user's appetite and stimulate him to choose a dish (which is the first step in your monetization strategy). That's what we know as a call to action.

  • Keep in mind convenience, speed, and ease of ordering. We've already talked about the need to think over the simplest ordering process, but it won't hurt to repeat it once again: as they say, you can never be too thorough. 

  • Create a mobile food ordering system. The site alone is no longer enough, today people are used to managing their affairs literally on the go, and ordering food delivery is no exception. That's why you should add a mobile ordering system for restaurants to your web resource.

  • Offer multiple payment options. You cannot know in advance which payment method a particular customer might prefer. Some people like contactless payments, others choose to pay in cash... so make sure you consider the preferences of all potential users.

  • Personalization comes first. By implementing modern AI and machine learning technologies, you get a chance to properly analyze user behavior. The data obtained will allow you to make personalized offers to each of your users.

  • Add reviews and ratings about restaurants. Among the key features of online food ordering systems are reviews and ratings. The point is, being unable to find out who liked or disliked a certain cafe or restaurant, the client won't be willing to place an order.

  • Don't forget about loyalty programs. One way to personalize offers is to create loyalty programs, which target specific users (so they won't have the urge to abandon them).

    • As a restaurant business owner, you can easily come up with all sorts of bonus campaigns. Working as an intermediary, you'll have to involve managers of eating facilities in the process.

  • Make the use conditions clear. The consumer must understand how to place an order, what is included in its price, how long the delivery might take, and so on.

  • Pay attention to the search engine. Your website (system for restaurant ordering) should be easy to use, as we said above. And to achieve such ease of use, you have to add a progressive search with filters and sorting.

  • Online support should always be available. Be proactive and respond to user feedback round the clock (through chatbots, FAQ sections, feedback forms, etc.).

How to Create a Food Ordering System?

At first, we’d like to discuss the general approach to development, and then clarify the details.

Ready-made solutions vs Custom food delivery website development

There are many inexpensive website templates, which allow creating various web projects in no time, but we recommend against them. Believe us, forward-thinking businessmen would prefer unique development solutions, despite the fact they significantly increase the online food ordering system cost.

Surprised? Okay, we'll try to explain why this supposedly unreasonable choice is in fact nothing more than a rational investment.

Ready-made platforms

If you use such ready-made solutions as Flipdish or, you can get a working restaurant ordering platform with a number of advantages, including minimum development time and cost. However, there are many disadvantages to this approach too, which we must warn you about:

  • unpredictable post-development costs (after all, these ready-made platforms charge a use commission, which might change over time);

  • no advanced customization, which means no unique design and limited functionality;

  • unreliable result.

As you can see, your initial expenses seem to be relatively low, but they may turn out to be wasted altogether (if the result of the development doesn't satisfy you)... which is why smart ones usually choose a different approach, namely… 

The custom way to create a food delivery website

What are your advantages in this case?

  • Cool design, which doesn’t depend on ready-made templates;

  • The possibility of advanced customization, taking into account your specific requirements;

  • A unique set of features, the list of which is made by you and only you;

  • High-quality development, without unnecessary modules and the like;

  • Ease of scaling (an advantage that off-the-shelf solutions cannot boast of);

  • Effective integration with any third-party services (including CRM and ERP).

In other words, custom development allows you to get a unique web-based food ordering system that meets your needs 100%. Of course, there are also disadvantages to the approach in question, and the main ones are the greater duration and complexity of the dev process and the resulting high cost of the project.

What do you know about food recipe app development? We’re covering the issue in our article at the link.

Let’s say you’ve chosen the second way to go (a smart one). How to create a food ordering website if that’s the case?

  • Business model selection. We think you already know which of the described business models to prefer. If you have your own restaurant, the choice is obvious. If not, answer the following questions:

    1. Are you ready to handle the delivery yourself (starting with hiring a trustworthy courier service)? If your answer is no, your option is software for restaurant order taking, which serves as a link between customers and dining establishments.

    2. Would you like to provide customers with a more comprehensive solution? Then create a virtual kitchen (if you’re up to larger expenses on an ongoing basis).

  • Discovery Phase. We've told you about the importance of market research, remember (in one of the previous sections)? Without this kind of analysis, you can only guess what your paying consumer truly needs. To avoid pointless guessing, you should assign the research task to a professional team, the Discovery Phase specialists. These experts would perform the following:

    1. Market analysis. The Discovery Phase begins with a comprehensive analysis of the market which you have to deal with. You need to work through user expectations, identify major market trends, and determine the most likely industry development in the next couple of years.

    2. Competitor analysis. Now it's time to study existing market players, the best restaurant ordering systems you're going to compete with. Discovery Phase experts identify their pros and cons and come up with what you can oppose them with.

    3. Working with the needs (pains) of consumers. In other words, you have to figure out what user problems your restaurant’s online ordering website will solve (or what desires it’s going to fulfill).

    4. Identifying order scenarios. You may feel like you know how a customer places an order. However, your feelings and assumptions are one thing, and the real facts are quite another. So it’s necessary to accurately identify all the steps the average user takes to order the delivery of a restaurant dish online.

    5. Drawing up a general concept. Having collected and processed all the data, you can draw up a general concept for your project.

  • Budgeting. The cost to develop a food ordering website is quite high, can you handle it? Do you have enough budget? If not, you should find reliable sources of funding.

    1. In one of our articles, we described a couple of ways to attract an investor and interest him with your project (and convince him to invest in web & mobile app development). 

  • Choosing the feature set. Once you’ve decided on the budget and ways of financing the project, you should make a list of features. Before the stage of financing, there is no point in thinking about the functionality of the resource: in the end, the less money you have, the fewer features you can afford to implement.

  • Hiring your development team. Now you have to find a professional development team that knows how to create an online ordering system (and ideally has the appropriate experience).

  • Professional discussion. You've already prepared a project concept based (hopefully) on proven market data. However, this is hardly enough! Now you need to discuss your idea with the developers you’ve just hired. Their task is to choose efficient technological solutions to build the online takeaway ordering system with minimal effort on their part and no costs on yours (as much as possible).

  • Prototyping. The logical conclusion of a professional discussion is the creation of a prototype. It’s not a restaurant order-taking system yet, it’s just an illustration (sometimes an animated one) of how your resource will look in its finished form, what sections it’ll consist of, etc. 

  • UI/UX. Interface design is as important as functionality. Your resource must be user-friendly, modern, and in line with the latest UI/UX trends. It should look no worse than the top websites in your category (the best food ordering software).

  • MVP creation. Instead of full-fetched food ordering website development, it's better to start small and create an MVP.

    1. The essence of the MVP approach is to build the simplest version of your product, with a minimum set of basic features. As a result, you get a working service, which can be tested on end-users with the intent to understand how it corresponds to their idea of a perfect online ordering platform for restaurants.

    2. MVP has nothing to do with releasing an untested raw product. Your MVP resource should be bug-free and running like clockwork. 

  • Further website improvement. The previous step is followed by a cycle of analyzing user feedback and updating the platform according to the data received. Strictly speaking, this work is never-ending, you’re welcome to update your resource as many times as you like (the sky's the limit).

  • Marketing activities. Also, let's not forget about the promotion. Even the best site for food delivery is likely to fail without proper advertisement (otherwise how will your users know about your product?). Therefore, you can't do without a marketing budget.

Okay, we’ve done with custom development (at the very least, we’ve outlined the main stages). Now you have an overall idea of what you’ll have to face.

And if you ignore our advice and decide to go simple (meaning, you’re going to use a ready-made template solution), just follow the instructions of the service of your choice. The guide should explain to you how to set up online ordering systems.

Cost to Develop a Food Ordering Website

We think you're anxious to know what development budget you need to prepare. Of course, we won’t be able to give you exact figures, but it doesn't mean we can't help you. We'll offer you approximate estimates based on our great experience.

To begin with, several factors affect online food ordering system costs, including the complexity of the resource, its features, customization, and much more. The larger your project, the more time and effort developers will have to spend on its implementation. And developer time is what you’re buying.

Each developer (and development company) has its own hourly rate. Big-name companies have higher rates, newcomers are content with little. Also, a lot depends on the location of the agency (obviously, services of US experts won't come cheap).

Now let’s discuss the duration of the project itself. Suppose, you aren't too demanding and would be satisfied with a fairly simple restaurant website ordering system. How long will it take to create it?

  • UI/UX creation: 1.5-2 months of work;

  • Development of a specific product version (user, restaurant, courier): about 3-4 months each (with the involvement of 1-2 developers);

  • Backend development: 4-6 person-months;

  • Creation of admin panel: 2-3 person-months.

You should also take into account the costs of DevOps, PM, and testing activities.

In general, if you hire an agency with an average rate (say, from Eastern Europe) and select the most necessary features, your online food ordering system for restaurants will cost about $90K. More complex requirements add extra zeros to this figure.

How to Make Food Ordering Websites Profitable?

It’s about on-demand platforms and ways to monetize them; if you’re a restaurant owner, you earn differently.

Okay, let’s discuss your options:

  • Commission from the order. Of course, online ordering solutions for restaurants don't work free of charge, just for fun, so to speak. So it'll only be fair if the eating establishment shares the additional income it gets thanks to such platforms. The size of the commission is usually 5-25% per order. 

  • Better visibility. If the restaurant owner wants his establishment to be more visible to the client, he can pay to achieve the desired effect. This is especially useful during the hours when people are most likely to order food online.

  • Advertising. Also, food ordering software for restaurants is quite good at promoting dining facilities. The advertisement format and type are platform-specific (the ad should look as native and organic as possible).

Best Online Ordering System for Restaurants

There are too many restaurant order tracking systems to discuss each one, so we’ll focus on just a few top examples.

  • UberEats. Everyone has heard of Uber taxis, but not everyone knows that the company is also involved in food delivery. Like other Uber applications, the service is fast, reliable, and secure.

  • DELIVERY.COM. The name is rather eloquent and requires no explanation: the company is engaged in delivery, and it’s not only about food.

  • Food Panda. Some people consider Food Panda to be the best restaurant online ordering software. Be that as it may, this is a very strong competitor, which isn’t surprising, given that the company has been on the market since 2013. Today the solution in question is available in 40+ countries around the world.

  • YELP EAT 24. Yelp Eat 24 is, too, a popular digital ordering system for restaurants. It has many cool features it's proud of, and one of the best is credible user reviews and ratings. Customers know they can trust this platform.

  • GRUBHUB. While Yelp Eat 24 focuses on truthful reviews, Grubhub has taken another path to differentiate itself from the competition. The service very accurately analyzes the location of users and invites them to order food from places nearby, which significantly speeds up the entire delivery process. 

We’ve described 5 market leaders but, of course, you should hope your solution is the one to become the best online ordering platform for restaurants… or, at least, it may join the top list, which isn’t so bad either.

Our Experience with Restaurant Online Ordering Software

We know how to create a website for online food ordering systems and have vast professional experience. Unfortunately, many of our projects are under NDA, so we cannot speak openly about them. But we'd like to familiarise you with one of the pieces of our portfolio also related to the topic of dining out: the Foodhead app.

Basically, the app offers its users top-notch information about places to dine nearby. So if you are hungry and want to find out where you can have a delicious snack right now, Foodhead is your faithful assistant.

The service is really cool and useful, and it is quite popular with users. Read more about it here.


Okay, we’ve explained to you how to create a food delivery website with a minimum of effort and cost. And now we should ask you: are you up to the challenge? Do you want to take a chance and, if you do it right, get a cool project? Then it's time to start the action!

We're happy to become your partners and help you bring your idea to life. Let's talk business!
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