What are mobile ordering apps?
Mobile ordering apps have become a vital resource for the hospitality industry in the wake of COVID-19. More and more businesses turn to these apps because it’s more convenient, increases the cost per head, reduces staff costs, and improves overall customer experience. Businesses have a lot of choices for mobile and online ordering, and finding the best mobile ordering app can be challenging if you’re unsure what to look for.
Currently, the best mobile ordering apps in the UK are the ones that give businesses control over the ordering and order management process and provide either a white-label web application or a downloadable app for customers to place orders.
The best mobile ordering apps in the UK
1. NOQ [Editors Top Pick]
Many mobile ordering apps cater primarily to bars, restaurants, pubs, cafes, and other eateries, but NOQ takes it a step further by providing solutions for large events and caterers as well. Customers scan a QR code to see a menu or list of products and make a cashless, contactless payment using Apple or Google Pay. NOQ also provides live reporting analytics, showing vendors how much they’ve sold and when they’ve sold it. NOQ offers either an app or app-less experience for customers, so your business can choose which you prefer.
That’s why NOQ is one of the best mobile ordering solutions on the market right now. At the time of writing, NOQ is the only provider that offers both an app and app-less option for businesses.
- Works for large-scale events in addition to restaurants, bars, and pubs
- The only proven solution for large events and festivals
- Customers don’t need to download the app to order
- Facilitates order to table, collection, and pre-order models
- NOQ releases vendor payment to bank account within 24 hours
- No setup subscription fees
What business customers are saying about NOQ
Businesses particularly like NOQ’s ease of use, as Oliver Tully of Cinestock noted, “We found the app-based ordering to be unique and easy to use…it was well laid out and clear, straightforward to use.”
NOQ’s innovative approach also has business customers excited, as Matthew Blayer of Event March puts it, “We are backing NOQ to provide essential solutions for street food, bars and merchandising at festivals, this isn’t just for now but a new way of working.
Find out more on the NOQ website.
Instead of putting orders through a third-party app, restaurants use Flipdish to develop their own web application. In addition to white-label apps and websites with your own branding, Flipdish also provides in-restaurant ordering kiosks, QR-code table ordering, delivery partner solutions, and direct ordering through Google and Instagram. Flipdish also lets you run managed marketing campaigns to help boost sales.
- White label mobile ordering app, website, and kiosk solutions
- Customers can order directly from social channels
- Delivery partner options
- Accessible customer database
- Order insights and analytics
What business customers are saying about Flipdish
Businesses use Flipdish to reach more customers, as the Manicomio Executive Head Chef Tom Salt said, “Flipdish has been fantastic in enabling us to reach out to people who potentially we may have missed in the past.”
Independent UK-based pizzeria chain DOUGH used Flipdish to expand to more locations, and as founder Ryan Lynch put it, “Our growth plans are to expand to 10 sites within 18 months. For a company like us to grow, we need someone side-by-side who can help us grow, and Flipdish does just that.”
Find out more on the Flipdish website.
3. Onvi (formerly Wi5)
Onvi is more than an ordering app, it’s a full-fledged ordering platform with a support team dedicated to your success. Set up for pubs, bars, restaurants, takeaway services, and hotels, Onvi’s various solutions help streamline your ordering workflow. In addition to Onvi Order, which is an Order & Pay mobile app, Onvi also offers back-office software to create and customise menus and an order management system.
- Extensive order options including table, pickup, delivery, order to room, curbside, and more
- Add tipping, custom vouchers, and promotions, and create QR code marketing materials
- Interface designed to work with pub and bar staff
- No subscription costs and low transaction fees
What business customers are saying about Onvi
George Bejko-Cowlbeck, the Director of 70s-inspired Crazy Golf Courses, BBQ Restaurant, Cocktail Lounge Bar, and Comedy Club Caddies, says, “It’s great to see that the Onvi platform is continually improving. All too often tech businesses let their platforms stagnate which isn’t the case with them.”
Another one of Onvi’s customers, Beehive Pub & Restaurant, used the platform to streamline ordering, as Chef & Proprietor Dominic Chapman noted, “Once you have you have your digital menu set up, it’s so easy. We placed our QR code prominently on the website as well as the Onvi platform. Once that was in place, we found all of a sudden we had customers making orders and we didn’t have to do anything. All the hard work is done for you.”
Find out more on the Onvi website.
Butlr’s goal is to help people avoid queues. Branded as a solution for pubs, bars, clubs, music venues, and theatres, the Butlr app is simple for both customers and businesses to use. Customers need to download the Butlr app to place orders, and Butlr provides the equipment your business needs to start taking mobile orders.
- App-based ordering solutions
- Payouts the next business day
- Tablet, printer and stickers included
- Theatre mode setting for convenient table service throughout a show
What business customers are saying about Butlr
B The owner of 256 Wilmslow said the app “increased our intake by 2.4x and costs are down by 50%. We can pay more attention to customers which means repeat business!”
The General Manager of Moles also had good things to say about Butlr: “Due to restrictions we were at 25% of capacity, but with the customers ordering through Butlr we managed to take as much on the bar as we would at 100% (sometimes more!).”
Find out more on the Butlr website.
Yoello is a mobile ordering solution for the hospitality industry, using QR codes and a web app for contactless table ordering, click & collect, and delivery services. Businesses can build custom menus and add modifiers and preferences, for a seamless ordering experience. Yoello scores high marks for security, as it’s one of the only mobile ordering and payment apps authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It also operates under the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard.
- FCA authorised payment provider
- Integrates with your existing ordering system
- Custom branded web-app
- App-less ordering
- Build group venue profiles for multiple traders within one venue
What business customers say about Yoello
Andrew Chongsathien who is a street food vendor, said, “It’s way more efficient not having customers standing in front of you because you are literally dealing with the orders. They’re just going out so fast. We had 100 orders in 10 minutes – it isn’t a problem for us now, so sales are great.”
Leigh Watts, the landlord of traditional British pub The Greyhound Inn, pointed out that, “If we hadn’t got the Yoello app we would have to have a lot more staff physically going round and taking orders and it wouldn’t viable us opening, simply because of the wage costs.”
Find out more on the Yoello website.
Why you need a mobile ordering app for your business
Although the mobile ordering apps listed above may differ slightly in their approach or their target businesses, they all have one thing in common: they help businesses boost sales. Customers don’t like to wait in queues, whether it’s at restaurants, cafes, pubs, concerts, markets, or cinemas. Since the pandemic, people are even less fond of queuing for orders or ordering in person.
Today, customers expect to be able to do everything online, and they want speedy transactions. If your business can’t provide that, then you’ll get left behind. Mobile ordering apps also reduce your staff costs because you don’t need as many people on hand to take orders. Plus, you all but eliminate contact between your customers and staff members.
Several mobile ordering apps also offer insightful analytics or real-time reporting of your orders, so you can gather data about what’s selling, create customer databases, and better manage your business. Some of the best ordering platforms also offer custom marketing solutions, allowing you to run campaigns, promotions, or issue discounts and vouchers.
The bottom line is that mobile ordering apps improve your bottom line. They give your business more control over order management and create happy, loyal customers.
How mobile ordering apps increase cost per head
When customers order through an ordering app, they spend more. Surveys from vendors show that there is, on average, a 30% increase with customers who use the app, and other apps see the same numbers. Why?
Since the world of mobile ordering is still relatively new and unexplored, it’s difficult to point to hard data to explain why the average cost per head goes up with these apps. But it’s likely due to a few reasons:
- Customers feel more comfortable: Without having to come into contact with servers or staff members, customers feel a bit more at ease. Especially since the pandemic, minimising direct contact with others has become a big priority for most customers.
- More time to choose: When another person is waiting to take your order, either at a crowded bar, at your table amongst several others, or at a food counter with a long line behind you, you feel pressured to decide quickly. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time. Ordering apps eliminate all these waiting and queuing scenarios, leaving customers to take their time scrolling through menus or options on their phones. When they have more time to choose, customers tend to order more than what they need.
- Specific orders without judgment: Everyone has little modifications they’d like to make to an order – no cheese, extra bacon, asking for a straw, etc. People don’t want to be judged for these personal preferences because they’re veering off from what the vendor offers and fear they’ll frustrate the vendor. Most mobile ordering apps provide functionality for modifications and preferences, so customers can choose exactly what they want and how they want it. With ordering anxiety eliminated, customers usually tend to order more.
- Card-less, cashless payments encourage higher spending: When you purchase something with cash, you feel a sense of physical loss as you hand the bills over. Using a card also creates a sense of loss because although you don’t have to give up your payment card, you do see your bank balance go down. This phenomenon pushes people to spend less – because they don’t want to feel loss. When you pay by smartphone, using Apple Pay, for example, this loss goes away and you’re likely to spend more. Mobile ordering apps utilise cardless payments, often resulting in customers ordering more.
These reasons generally describe why the spend per order is higher with mobile ordering apps. As these apps become more popular, we’ll be able to gather more data about customer spending habits.
Benefits of mobile ordering apps in the post-Covid era
Covid hit the hospitality sector the hardest, with bars and restaurants the first to get closed down and the last to be allowed to reopen. Even after cafes, pubs, hotels, music venues, and cinemas were allowed to welcome customers again, they had to do so under tight restrictions. Businesses that don’t try to respect health and safety measures also lose customers who are anxious about catching and spreading the virus.
This environment helped bolster the use of mobile ordering apps, which had already gained steam before Covid. Once bars and restaurants were able to open again, they turned to ordering apps for contactless purchases and order management, allowing them to keep their staff and customers safe. For some businesses, mobile ordering apps have pushed their sales back up to near 100% capacity levels, even if they’re only allowed to welcome 50% or less of their usual guests in their establishments.
Mobile ordering will have a place in the post-Covid era because it allows businesses to adapt. If government restrictions tighten again, businesses will have a way to cope without losing significant sales. With no touching of menus, no tightly-packed queues, and contactless payments, mobile ordering apps were built for the public health situation we find ourselves in.
White-label solutions vs. downloadable apps
Mobile ordering solutions come in different forms. Most of the apps on this list provide white-label apps and websites, meaning they offer a web app menu or order list with the business’s branding on it. The other major option is using a downloadable app, which requires the customer to download an app on their smartphone and scan a QR code to see the vendor’s menu.
The white-label apps have several advantages, including allowing businesses to create custom menus and put their own branding on them. All customers have to do is scan a QR code and they’ll be directed to a menu where they place an order. Then, a printer prints out a receipt for the staff, who fills the order and brings it to the table or customer. This process helps keep staff members organised and simplifies the ordering process for customers.
Downloadable apps also have benefits for businesses. Customers have to download the ordering app on their smartphone, then register their details or scan a QR code to see the vendor’s menu. Ordering proceeds in mostly the same way as a white-label web application, except that downloadable apps allow for more up-selling at checkout. Vendors can provide in-app offers or promotions, and they can also communicate directly with the customer to give them updates on their order status via push notifications. These apps also provide reporting and analytics to businesses, to see what’s selling. The only downside to downloadable ordering apps vs. white-label solutions is that customers have to download an app first.
From the list above, Onvi, Flipdish, and Yoello provide white-label solutions only. Butlr provides an app-based solution. NOQ is the only provider that offers both app and app-less ordering models, hence why it’s one of the leaders in this space.
Are there any negatives to mobile ordering apps?
The only real downside to mobile ordering apps is that they’re still relatively new and not every bar, restaurant, or pub has implemented them yet. Most of them also take a percentage of each order, but it’s usually less than 2%, which is lower than most card readers or payment processors. The ease of ordering with an app typically boosts sales enough to cover the 2% anyway.
Some customers may prefer face-to-face ordering so they can ask questions about the menu, something that’s not possible with apps. However, these kinds of questions tend to be more common at restaurants or eateries, where people are less likely to know what they want. For bars, pubs, cafes, and cinemas, people usually don’t have questions about their order beforehand.
Conclusion – The best mobile ordering apps in the UK right now
The five apps on this list provide some of the best solutions for mobile and online ordering, each catering to a slightly different subset of the hospitality industry. Mobile ordering apps are having a moment post-Covid, but they’re not just a trend. These apps have improved customer experiences at countless bars, pubs, restaurants, event venues, and more, and it’s unlikely businesses will return to their old ordering models, even after the pandemic is history.