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Taking your hospitality business online during COVID-19

If you’re in the hospitality industry and you run a pub, bar, restaurant, cafe or coffee shop you may be considering branching out into offering takeaway food and/or drink (possibly temporarily during the COVID-19 pandemic). There is currently a huge demand for ordering takeaway food online, and this is only going to keep growing as more people use mobile technology to purchase goods online. And you might be wondering how best to do this?

Obviously every business is different, some businesses might be looking for a temporary solution others may see it as a possible future revenue stream. Some businesses might be looking for a way to handle the maximum possible orders, others might have limited ingredients and/or staff. The main advantage of providing an online order takeaway service is convenience. Both for you and your customers.

There are at least 4 different ways you could create your online takeaway service

1) Have your web designer add a form or PDF to your existing website (or Facebook page) that customers can fill out and print off and then order over the phone. This would usually require you to have dedicated telephone staff during opening hours as well as the ability to take card payments over the phone. Estimated Cost: £100-£300 plus card processing fees (2-3%) plus staff time (£50/day)

OR

2) Sign up with a dedicated food ordering service such as Just Eat, Uber Eats, Deliveroo. Be aware that some of these organisations have been known to charge ridiculously high commission fees, but they are successful. If you’re new to this business it could give you a way to find new customers, but conversely it also means your competitors are probably going to appear on the same page as you in these companies listings. Estimated Cost: £600-£800 plus card processing fees (2-3%) plus service charges (17-33%)

OR

3) Sign up with an “Online Ordering Solution” package. Google that and you’ll see the various companies offering to get your takeaway business online. Most charge service fees that could soon end up “eating” into your profits so something you’ll want to consider along what is included in the advertised price. Estimated Cost: £600-£800 plus card processing fees (2-3%) plus service charges (10-15%)

Options 1-3 don’t really require more explanation, you sign up, pay the fees and let them take care of business.

OR

4) Set up your own website and ordering system using low cost tried and tested solutions, for example WordPress with Woocommerce or WPPizza are free, both have a large selection of low cost add-ons to provide extra features, the latter is more dedicated to takeaway businesses. The main advantage here is lower cost, particularly service fees of which there will be none, only credit card processing which is usually about 2%. The other advantage is that you are completely free to market your business online independently without having to share your efforts with your competitors.

This approach ideally requires a broadband/WiFi connection (or a good 4G signal) to be available at the business location. Not to host the ordering system that will be in the cloud, but for you to receive the orders. Estimated Cost – DIY: approx £400 plus card processing fees (2-3%), Or with our help: approx £600 plus card processing fees (2-3%)

If you have a bit of technical knowledge and willingness to learn you can do all of this yourself. And if you’re ok with that, I’ll explain below how I’d go about it.

Or, if that’s not for you, we offer an all-in-one setup service (for only £200 more than the cost of doing it yourself). Unlike the other options, you’re paying for everything once up-front with no extortionate service fees later on. This will probably end up being more cost effective even after a couple of months.

Steps to hosting your own online takeaway ordering service

i) Get a domain and some secure, reliable hosting and install WordPress OR setup a business hosting account at wordpress.com
Estimated Cost: About £200-£300/year

ii) Install an ordering system plug-in such as WPPizza
Estimated Cost: £0

iii) Pick a free theme or buy one for less than £100, get some images, add your logo, customise the site, setup your food options in the menu
Estimated Cost: £0-£200

iv) Purchase any optional add-ons you wish to add extra features such as taking credit cards, postcode delivery charges, discounts, printing/emailing orders, mobile friendly menus, marketing, etc..
Estimated Cost: £0-£100

v) Purchase any optional hardware you wish to make the service run more efficiently such as a tablet, printer
Estimated Cost: £80-£250

vi) Launch your service promote it on facebook and google
Estimated Cost: £0-£30

NOTES ON DOMAINS

“Google Domains” charges around £10/year which is a lot cheaper than some of the well-known domain registration companies. Some companies that offer domains for 99p, will charge you £20-£30/year thereafter. Many also charge high transfer fees making it expensive to switch later.

NOTES ON PRINTING ORDERS

A printer could make a big difference to how efficiently your takeaway ordering system operates. Having one frees up your staff and cuts down on incorrect orders. Usually a thermal printer makes the most sense, they are very small, don’t require ink and the paper is on a continuous roll so the only maintenance is to change the roll. Sadly most of the cheaper thermal printers need to be attached to a pc and this isn’t always practical in a restaurant, bar or takeaway. There are 2 ways round this:

One is to choose a well-known brand that has a high level of support for either cloud-printing (be aware that google cloud print is being discontinued at the end of 2020).
The other is to look for add-ons to your ordering system that provide printing features to specific printers or print services.

We use the combination of a low cost readily available WiFi thermal printer using a raspberry pi (tiny computer) to pick up and print the orders costing around £150 in total. However as the online ordering industry is booming there are likely to be a huge increase in suitable printing solutions coming onto the market. Star, Brother and Epson have some decent products already.

Let’s talk about your
online food ordering system
07852 895598