It was national pizza day, and what better way to commemorate it than to eat pizza 😀 So when my co-workers and I decided to order pizza for lunch, the unanimous decision was to order online.
Online ordering for us, and for a considerable percentage of the take out market, is more than just a matter of convenience. It’s a no hassle option.
- You can order from anywhere as long as you’re connected to the internet. Mobile apps just make things simpler.
- For customers, ordering online guarantees that the order is not messed up and is delivered to the right place.
- A detailed menu, with images, makes it simpler to take decisions.
According to Cowen and Company Research Report the percentage of customers ordering online will surpass the offline ordering market in another 6 years.
Now, since more and more customers are looking to order online, restaurants are looking to capture this online ordering market.
While large chains have the brand advantage, upcoming players look towards restaurant aggregators to get their foot in the door.
Rise in Popularity of Restaurant Aggregators
Restaurant aggregators like JustEat, GrubHub or Zomato have gained popularity owing to the advantages they present restaurant owners. They provide restaurants a platform to setup their online presence quickly and put them on the map with not much effort or cost involved.
They also know that customers prefer restaurant aggregators too.
For customers, restaurant aggregators become the go to portal to discover newly opened restaurants, read reviews, check out different options and decide on a place to order from.
Now, this rise in popularity presents an opportunity to individuals and companies like you to explore this niche market.
Building a Restaurant Aggregator & Online Ordering System
With nearly 1 out of 5 websites on WordPress, WordPress does become a popular choice to setup any kind of website. But the question is can a restaurant aggregator and online ordering system be replicated on WordPress? Are there any existing plugins which can be used to speed up development and reduce cost?
Well the answer is yes*. (*conditions apply)
But, before we jump to building the system, let’s take a look at the task at hand.
A restaurant aggregator and online ordering website or app should have the following features:
#1 Restaurant Owner’s Profile & Info
According to Restaurant.org, 88% of adults use an online system to look up restaurant locations, directions and hours of operation. So, the restaurant details, such as operation timing, menu, images, location are a must in any restaurant aggregator system.
These details would have to be added by the restaurant owner themselves, so as to assure that the information is up-to-date and accurate. So, there would have to be an admin panel, where restaurant owners can manage their details, add images, update offers or coupons, reply to customer feedback and more.
#2 Search and Filter
‘Search’ is certainly a must-have feature to have. It is an aggregator after all.
But, what could make the search functionality better (or rather smarter) would be a filter based search. Filters allow users to quickly shortlist restaurants of interest from a long list of options. These filtering options can be based on category, location, user rating, and so on.
#3 Customer Reviews
Reviews are an important factor in swaying customer decision; hence, this feature is a must have. According to Restaurant.org, 57% of restaurant goers and online orderers, prefer reading reviews of a restaurant before trying it out. Reviews could be coupled with a rating section for a quick summary a of the a customer’s experience at a restaurant.
A few restaurant aggregators extend this ‘Review’ functionality by adding an active feedback system via email or SMS.
#4 Online Payment Options
The flexibility of online payments do matter on any ecommerce website, and an online ordering system is no different. Apart from the ever so popular ‘Cash on Delivery’ option, online orderers prefer having the options to pay via a credit/debit card.
And if you want to go the whole shebang, you could offer system credits or cash back on online orders.
#5 Delivery Management & Tracking
A delivery tracking system helps customers track their delivery right from the point of order, to dispatch, till the point of delivery. And to update users about their order status, restaurant owners need a delivery management system. Generally, such a system has an SMS integration.
These basic features are certainly good enough to get your restaurant aggregator and ordering system up and running.
But then how does one provide this functionality on WordPress?
Let’s take a look!
A Restaurant Aggregator on WordPress
As is the case with all systems it’s all about building the right foundation. In WordPress the theme and the core plugin you choose become the foundation of your system.
Now, if we subtract the ordering system from the aggregator, we essentially need a directory website. The listings would be for each restaurant and could be maintained by restaurant owners who would be users of the WordPress system.
A theme I’d recommend here is Listify.
Listify provides a solid base for any directory website. If you needed a preview, you could take a look at their restaurant listings in the demo.
Now, the theme does not work out of the box; there are plugins which although not required would be needed to make the theme behave to your liking. The plugins we need are:
- WooCommerce Social Login
- WP Job Manager – Bookmarks
- WP Job Manager – Tags
- WP Job Manager – WooCommerce Paid Listings
- WP Job Manager – Reviews
- WP Job Manager – Extended Location
These plugins would cover setting up restaurant information, adding categories and tags, reviews. Additional features include the social login feature to help customers login using their social media profiles, allow them to bookmark favorite restaurants, and search based on location.
Adding Online Ordering to the Mix
Online ordering adds a level of complexity to the restaurant aggregator. Since an order is usually tied to one restaurant, we’ll have to create a different store for each restaurant, or limit the user to purchasing items from a single restaurant.
The cart that you can use for the task is WooCommerce.
The reason why I recommend WooCommerce is because it provides a majority of the functionality needed by default, including order tracking, and has add-ons that offer SMS integration.
The ordering system would be a completely custom solution, that would work as follows:
- Upon selecting the restaurant name, the products belonging to the restaurant would be loaded
- A customer could then proceed to purchasing needed items as usual
- Upon checkout an order would be created for the particular store
- Using an SMS integration plugin, restaurant owners could update users on their delivery status
Online ordering along with the aggregator wouldn’t exactly be a replica of GrubHub, JustEat or FoodPanda, but would be quite close to it. There would be some limitations brought in by the platform. However, based on your specific requirements a lot of functionality could be custom built.
But as mentioned, the theme, and the core plugin and the available add-ons would certainly make the task simpler.
Are you looking to build an online ordering system on WordPress? What according to you would be the biggest challenge? Do you have concerns about the e-commerce plugin you should choose?
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!