3 Best Free Online Food Ordering Software for Restaurants

By: on July 21, 2021

Remember the last time you dined out? Seems like a thing of the past, doesn’t it?

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way the restaurant industry operates. Due to social distancing norms, most restaurant businesses have seen a dip in dine-in sales. As a result, alternative dining options such as curbside delivery, takeout, and online ordering have become extremely popular; 53% of adults now consider these options essential to the way they live.

As people adapt to the ongoing pandemic restrictions, restaurant owners and managers like you must reinvent the way they serve customers, and a large part of that change involves building a robust digital presence.

To serve customers online, your restaurant business needs the right technology to fulfill orders, manage staff, and track delivery. An online food ordering system can take care of all these processes and help ensure a seamless delivery experience for your customers.

New to online food ordering software? Check out our buyers guide to learn more about its benefits and common features.

Many online food ordering solutions are available on the market, but one size doesn’t fit all. We’ve compiled a list of the three best free tools with the highest user ratings on Software Advice. The products are arranged alphabetically. Read our full methodology here.

3 best free online food ordering software

GloriaFood is a cloud-based online food ordering and delivery system that helps handle orders and point-of-sale (POS) operations for your restaurant business. It offers a centralized platform to manage pickup, delivery, and dine-in orders.

The software allows you to create customized digital menus with food categories, images, and pricing details. It can integrate with your social media profile to increase brand visibility and take orders from social media users. It also offers Android and iOS mobile apps to let you accept orders on the go.

Support options include email and chat assistance. Optional paid services start at $9 per month.

Setting up online orders in GloriaFood.

Setting up an online account in GloriaFood (Source)

Shift4Shop is a cloud-based tool you can use to build an online store for your restaurant. It lets you manage and track food orders and invoices as well as offers built-in shipping and payment capabilities.

The software allows you to create a customized website for your restaurant, either from scratch or using prebuilt templates. You can design online ordering and checkout pages for customers to select meals and pay online. You can also integrate your website with search engines and social media platforms to promote your restaurant business via online channels.

Shift4Shop offers email, phone, and chat support. Paid plans start at $29 per month.

sales management in Shift4Shop

Sales management in Shift4Shop (Source)

Square for Restaurants is a cloud-based restaurant POS and food delivery software system. Its key features include online food order and delivery management; kitchen display management; and table, order, and menu management.

The software offers access to a unified dashboard that lets you oversee all aspects of your restaurant business, including occupancy monitoring, online order tracking, kitchen and staff performance management, sales management, and payment management. You can even customize your restaurant’s seating arrangement and floor plan for special occasions or events.

Square can integrate with multiple payment applications, and it provides a mobile app for iOS users. Its support options include email, phone, and chat assistance. Subscription fee for Square starts at $60 per month.

Order management in Square for Restaurants.

Order management in Square for Restaurants (Source)

How to choose the right free online food ordering software for your restaurant

Whether you own a chain of restaurants or a small cafe or food outlet, keep these considerations in mind when purchasing an online ordering system:

  • Deployment options: The software can be deployed either on premise or in the cloud. With on-premise deployment, your data is stored locally, but you have to host and manage the software yourself, for which you need dedicated tech staff. With cloud-based deployment, the software is hosted and managed by the vendor, and your data is stored in the cloud, accessible via a web browser on any desktop or mobile.
  • User limit and scalability: Free tools often have a user limit, and that may not be a problem if you have a small outlet with few employees. But if you have a large restaurant, you need software that can support multiple users. If user seats are limited, check what the upgrade cost is and compare it with the expected returns from using the software.

Common questions to ask when selecting free online food ordering software

Here are some questions to ask software vendors before finalizing a product:

  • Does the tool offer a mobile ordering app? Restaurant businesses are fast-moving with many stakeholders. A mobile app provides quick access to crucial information such as order type, quantity, and delivery location. It also brings all operations in one place, as you can delegate tasks to the entire team through the app.
  • What kind of customer support is available? Most free tools have limited customer support options. In a fast-moving restaurant, system errors and software crashes can lead to delayed service and, as a result, poor reviews from diners. Before finalizing a tool, be sure to check if 24/7 phone or live chat support is included.
  • Does the software support third-party integration? Many restaurant businesses use POS and navigation tools for their day-to-day operations. When assessing options, go for a tool that easily integrates with your existing software stack to avoid roadblocks in your operations.

Get started with online food ordering software

While free tools can help lay the foundation for your online restaurant business, they may not offer a full range of capabilities. If your restaurant is just starting, a free tool can work wonders, but if you have a more sophisticated setup, choosing a paid tool is a better bet.

Click here to check out the full list of online food order software tools listed on Software advice. You can view the top products based on recommendations from real software buyers like you.

Need some help? Speak to our software advisors who’ll help find the right software for your needs and budget in 15 minutes or less, for free. Schedule a call or click here to chat with an advisor now.

How we rate

This article was updated on July 8, 2021. Products considered for this article had to:

  • Offer a free, stand-alone version of the software (not a trial software version where you must purchase a product after a limited amount of time).
  • Meet our online food ordering market definition: Online ordering software enables customers to place their orders online, using either a webpage or an app. The software helps restaurant owners to accept, process, and manage customer orders received through various online channels.
  • Offer the following core features: menu management, order management, and multiple payment gateways.

Software that met the market definition and included the core features also needed a minimum of 20 user-submitted reviews published on Software Advice and an above-average overall user rating compared to other products in the category.

  • “Best” free tools had a minimum overall rating of 4.2 out of 5 from reviewers on Software Advice at the time of publication (July 8, 2021).

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