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How to set up online ordering for restaurant chains

October 20, 2020

If you run a restaurant that has multiple locations like Chipotle or McDonald’s then you might want to set up a restaurant chain order online system on your website. This way, you can take orders online and deliver to customers from the closest restaurant chain.

The question is: what is the best way to set up a WordPress multiple restaurant system?

In this article, we’ll walk you through three different ways to create a food ordering system for multiple restaurants. You can choose which method to implement based on your specific needs.

WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering
3 easy ways to enable food ordering for multiple restaurant chains.

Do I need one website or many to allow online ordering for restaurant chains?

The first thing you need to decide is whether to have a single website for all the restaurants in the chain, or a separate website for each restaurant.

Put simply, if you have multiple restaurants – e.g. a restaurant chain like Chipotle or McDonald’s – then each one needs an order online system. But you can achieve this with one website or multiple websites.

Either way, the goal is to keep track of which restaurant branch the order was made to. This way, you can have the online food order sent to the correct location.

The easiest way to do this is by setting up one website. Here’s why:

  • Less management. Setting up multiple restaurant websites means more management work. You’ll have to purchase separate domain names, buy hosting, and keep your websites up to date.
  • Cost-effective. Having a single website for your restaurant chain order online system is much more cost-effective than managing multiple websites. You’ll save on hosting costs as well as the technologies you’ll need to use to power your restaurant website and keep it up to date.
  • Easier to keep track of orders. Instead of implementing a complex system that keeps track of which website the order was placed through, you can use a simple restaurant ordering system to manage orders through one website.

So, for most restaurateurs, having one website for their restaurant chain order online system is better than setting up multiple websites.

3 ways to create a WordPress multiple restaurant ordering system

Online food order menu

There are three easy ways to create a WordPress multiple restaurant ordering system:

Method #1 – Set up WordPress multisite

By setting up a WordPress multisite, you can manage multiple websites under a single WordPress installation. This is perfect for anyone who wants to keep their food ordering system for each restaurant completely separate, while managing everything as a single website behind the scenes. It also makes it easy to offer different opening hours or food delivery slots for each restaurant.

Method #2 – Create one website with an ordering page for each restaurant

You can create separate categories for each restaurant on a single WordPress website. You can then create an online order page for each restaurant by listing the food items from each of their categories. Although you can’t prevent customers from placing orders from more than one restaurant at once, you can use clear navigation and customer information to discourage this from happening.

Method #3 – Use a multivendor plugin to allow food vendors to register and add products

If you want to allow each restaurant’s manager to be able to manage their foods, food menus, and orders separately then you can use a WordPress multivendor plugin. Each restaurant manager would have their own login credentials. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about setting up (or managing) a WordPress multisite installation.

Feel free to read through each method to decide which one is right for you, or click on the jump links to skip to a specific method.

Method #1: Set up WordPress multisite

For those unfamiliar, you can use WordPress multisite to create a separate website for each one of your restaurants. In other words, you can have a separate restaurant ordering system for each restaurant under a single WordPress installation. Each restaurant will have its own admin area where you can add products and view orders.

Multisite restaurant chain order online

So, once you have your WordPress multisite set up, you can use the WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering plugin to accept restaurant chain orders online for takeout or contactless delivery during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This way, you can keep everything separate while allowing each restaurant manager to add and manage their own food items, restaurant menus, and orders.

It’s important to keep in mind that this method requires the most amount of work to set up and maintain compared to the other options. Additionally, your WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering plugin license will need to cover the correct number of sub-sites you intend on setting up. This is because each sub-site counts towards your license activation.

How to set up WordPress multisite

  1. First, set up a WordPress multisite with one sub-site for each restaurant. If you’re not sure how to set this up, check out this guide for complete, step-by-step instructions. If you already have a WordPress website, you can simply enable multisite on it.
  2. Go to the network admin for your multisite and install these two plugins:
  3. Now follow these steps for each sub-site:
    1. Use the WooCommerce setup wizard to configure the restaurant order system. This will walk you through important steps like enabling payment gateways, tax and choosing your currency.
    2. Go to Products → Categories and add all the food categories from the restaurant’s menu.
    3. Go to Products → Add New and add each food item.

Finally, go to the Pages list in the WordPress admin area for each sub-site/restaurant. You will find a ‘Restaurant Ordering’ page which automatically lists all the food products for that restaurant, divided by category. (Rename this to anything you like.) Customers can place their orders and proceed to the checkout page.

Delivery and collection

The settings for each sub-site are managed separately, so it’s easy to add delivery and collection options for each restaurant individually.

What about order notifications?

For order notifications, you can enter the restaurant’s email address on each sub-site. The new order emails will automatically be sent to the correct address for that location.

If you decide to use additional plugins to send SMS order notifications or print orders directly to the kitchen, then these can also be set up per sub-site. You can enter the correct mobile number or printer details for each restaurant location without needing to worry that customer orders will be sent to the wrong location.


Method #2: Create one website with an ordering page for each restaurant

The simplest way to set up a restaurant chain order online system is by creating one website with an ordering page for each restaurant. The key benefit of this approach is that it’s incredibly easy to set up and maintain over time.

Restaurant chain order online system

Plus, you can use a single site license of the WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering plugin to power your restaurant ordering system.

The drawbacks of this method are:

  • You can’t prevent people from ordering from one restaurant at once. The workaround is to make your restaurant website’s navigation super clear.
  • It’s slightly tricker to keep the orders and notifications for each website separate. We provide advice on how to do this below.

How to set up an ordering page for each restaurant

Once you’ve got a WordPress website set up with the free WooCommerce plugin installed, the first step is to create product categories for each restaurant. You can do this by heading over to ProductsCategories from the WordPress admin panel. For example, you could create categories Restaurant A, Restaurant B, and Restaurant C. Then, each category would have sub-categories like Pizza, Pasta, and Wine.

Restaurant ordering system

Next, create a new page for each restaurant (Pages → Add New). Use the WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering shortcode to list the food products from each of the restaurant’s categories, for example [restaurant_ordering category="starters"]. Each shortcode will insert a food order form listing the correct products. Repeat this step to create a food ordering page for each restaurant in the chain.

You can choose which email address will receive the new order notifications for each restaurant. Since each restaurant has its own settings, you can add a different email address for each one.

If you like, then you can also install plugins to automatically print new orders straight to the kitchen, or send SMS order notifications. Again, these are managed individually on each sub-site, so there’s no overlap between the restaurants.

Delivery and collection

Since you will have one WordPress website for the entire restaurant chain, the delivery and collection options are managed centrally.

If you want to offer different delivery/collection options or times for each restaurant then you can do this using the WooCommerce Opening Hours & Chosen Times plugin. This has a feature which lets you enable different delivery/collection options and set different time slots per category. Since each restaurant has its own category, this allows you to manage the delivery and collection option for each location individually.

Alternatively, the Conditional Shipping and Payments plugin lets you show different shipping and payment options for each restaurant.

What about order notifications?

By default, the order notification emails are sent to one email address for the entire website. That means that the email is sent to the same place regardless of which restaurant the order relates to. This isn’t suitable for most multiple restaurant ordering systems, so you’ll need an additional plugin.

The Advanced Notifications plugin lets you send new orders to a different email address for each product category. So, for example, when a restaurant receives an order, you can automatically route the customer’s order information directly to the correct restaurant.


Method #3: Use a multivendor plugin to allow food vendors to register and add products

If you’d like to give each restaurant’s manager complete control over the food items, restaurant menus, and orders, you can set up a multivendor site in WordPress. A WordPress multivendor plugin lets food vendors register, upload food items, and manage their orders from a single WordPress site installation.

Multivendor restaurant chain online ordering

The best part is that the intuitive WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering plugin works with all popular WordPress multivendor plugins including:

The multivendor plugin also creates shop pages for each restaurant. However, the food order form doesn’t appear on each vendor’s main shop page. Instead, you can create a new page for each restaurant’s food ordering system.

How to set up a multivendor plugin for multiple restaurants or chains

  1. First, set up your chosen multivendor plugin and install WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering.
  2. Create a product category for each vendor by going to Products → Categories. The different categories could be Vendor A, Vendor B, and Vendor C. Then, each category would have sub-categories like Starters, Main Courses, Desserts, and Drinks for each restaurant’s food items.
  3. Next, create a page for each restaurant by going to Pages → Add New and enter the [restaurant_ordering category="starters"] shortcode to insert a food order form for each of their categories.
  4. Finally, use the free Redirection WordPress plugin to automatically direct each of the vendor’s shop and category pages to their corresponding food order page.

Delivery and collection

As with Method 2, the delivery and collection options are managed centrally. You can set different delivery/collection options or times for each restaurant by installing the WooCommerce Opening Hours & Chosen Times plugin. Its category-level control lets you set different options and time slots per restaurant.

You could also use the Conditional Shipping and Payments plugin to offer different shipping and payment options per category.

What about order notifications?

The multivendor plugin will automatically email new order notifications to each restaurant.  You can use this alongside extra plugins to notify restaurants of new orders in order ways, such as SMS order notifications or direct printing to the kitchen.

Where to get the plugin

The easiest way to set up a restaurant chain order online system in WordPress is by using the robust WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering plugin. You can use it to set up different systems to let customers order food online:

  • WordPress multisite with sub-sites for each restaurant
  • Create one website with an ordering page for each restaurant
  • Use a WordPress multivendor plugin to allow food vendors to register and add products
WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering
3 easy ways to set up food ordering for multiple restaurant locations.

Ready to set up your online ordering system for restaurant chains? Get WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering today.

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