Restolabs vs ChowNow: Which one is best suited for your restaurant business?

The demand for food delivery and online ordering has grown exponentially in the last few years, so has the need for independent restaurants to find solutions that enable customers to browse menus, place orders, track delivery as well as pay online using their preferred payment method.

There are several restaurant ordering platforms available that essentially let restaurants establish a strong online presence, increase order volume and attract customers looking to satiate their hunger with a few clicks of a button. Perhaps experts predict online ordering platforms will experience a 63% growth within the next 3 years and there’s no sign of it slowing down.

For a restaurant business, this is the prime opportunity to make their food available to a wider audience without making a gigantic investment in infrastructure and personnel. Online ordering platforms and apps not only create an efficient experience for your customers but also provide you the convenience of order placement and delivery. Customers can simply browse the menu, choose their favorite dishes and checkout without being interrupted by communication hassles from the other side.

Power your restaurants with Online Ordering Platforms

“Going hungry is not an option for anyone with a functioning mobile phone”, and online ordering software or platforms are built to empower the restaurants to directly communicate with their customers.

Any business that does not have an online presence in today’s marketplace is likely going to struggle to get customers or even stay operational. When more than 52% of internet users use their mobile phones to order takeout, you want your restaurant to be one of the preferred choices.

With a wide choice in software, it can seem like a daunting task to pick the right one for your business. What all features should an online platform offer to help you attract and retain customers? What kind of payment gateways would you need for seamless checkout process? All these concerns are legit when choosing an online ordering platform for restaurants.

Therefore, before you jump on the bandwagon, it is a wise step to understand why or which service provider will be best suited to your restaurant business model.

In this review, I’m going to talk about two leading online ordering systems that have had helped many restaurants around the globe create a branded ordering experience with their seamless, SaaS-based online ordering platform. While both the platforms do a spectacular job in empowering restaurants to take full control of their customer relationships, there are some differences that make either platform better suited for specific types of restaurants. Today, we get to the bottom of this and compare Restolabs and Chownow head to head. We’ll take a look at their features, pricing, integration abilities, user-experience — basically, everything that a restaurant owner looking to expand its operations online would want to know.

What is Restolabs?

“Managing a restaurant online shouldn’t be a challenge with the right tools and framework”, with this vision and mission, Restolabs was established in 2012. A cloud-based online ordering software, Restolabs offerings are set out to provide restaurants an alternative to expensive food-delivery companies that take a “sizeable” commission on every order.

The real value is that it provides restaurants a branded experience through a custom web portal and mobile ordering app that helps restaurants to engage with their customers on a personal level.

Today, the company is listed amongst top-10 fastest growing food-tech companies in the food ordering space. With the combination of a significant amount of automation, flexibility, affordability and a wide array of robust features (listed here), Restolabs is currently working with a number of restaurants throughout the U.S, UK, India, Israel, and European Countries, enabling them to serve their clients better every day.

What is ChowNow?

ChowNow was conceived in 2011. Similar to Restolabs, ChowNow is also a SaaS-based online ordering platform built for the web, mobile and Facebook ordering.

The idea behind the inception of ChowNow was to make the interaction between the customers and restaurants transparent and affordable for both the parties. With the myriad of features listed here, the company has been successfully helping local and small restaurants in the U.S. and Canada to get online in no time.

Let’s now take a closer look at how Restolabs V/S ChowNow compares under the hood:

SetUp and Integration

Restolabs doesn’t disappoint in the setup department. It only takes a few minutes to get started once you’ve signed up. As for the complete setup process, all it takes is just an hour to launch the business online. .Besides easy to set up features, the company prides itself in delivering a personalized solution to its clients. With a detailed focus on UI/UX, restaurateurs can be sure that browsing and placing orders from their website or Facebook is going to be a unique experience for their customers and quite easy to comprehend even for the new users.

On the other hand, ChowNow is a bit heavy on the setup process compared to Restolabs. The entire process is not just lengthy but requires you to fill a ton of details before you even get started with the setup. However, once it’s done, you can immediately start promoting and selling from your website, apps and social media channels.

Both the platforms integrate well with third-party apps for POS, Loyalty Programs, and so on. The menu can also be easily integrated into the website and customers can order directly from their Facebook and Instagram profiles.

Order Management

Restolabs has the perfect “off the shelf solution” to set up the software that allows managing incoming orders a breeze. Order updating facility is available with Restolabs that permits customers to make changes to their existing orders on the fly. This is a benefit as many customers tend to change their minds after having placed the order already. With DIY features, the software allows restaurateurs to have complete control over their restaurant menu and set up. The all-inclusive dashboard can be managed on the go, from anywhere, anytime.

ChowNow also provides an all-inclusive dashboard that allows the business owner to access orders, pull up reports and track inventory. What it lacks is the flexibility to make the changes to the existing structure to suit their evolving needs. They’d need to contact the customer support to make the most of the changes.

Since both are web-based solutions, you can use any devices to log in to the admin panel and order management dashboard.

Multilingual Customer Support

A multilingual customer support facility is available for Restolabs users which is a plus in a cosmopolitan country like the United States. This ensures that the ordering experience for the customer is comfortable and convenient.

Unfortunately, ChowNow is yet to address this issue, which is a significant minus point for them.

Marketing and Analytics

Restolabs provides marketing services to restaurants at a fraction of cost to boost the visibility of the business in the online market. The in-house marketing experts at Restolabs can provide customized marketing solutions for your brand and help you tell a unique story. With in-built marketing and analytics tools, Restolabs users can also access customer data and, in the process, get to know them better. Loyal customers can be rewarded by offering them coupons and new customers can be engaged with Restolabs’ robust analytics solution.

On the other hand, ChowNow provides limited marketing options. Custom designed marketing campaigns are available as part of ChowNow’s marketing services that help boost customer engagement. But if you are a looking for a full-fledged digital marketing solution that includes services like SEO, Blogs, Off-page promotions etc., perhaps, you can always hire professional services or use alternative plugins to increase the visibility of your business on popular search engines.

Reasonable or Expensive — how much are you willing to pay?

While online ordering and delivery are important elements to consider for any restaurant looking to grow its revenue, determining the best platform primarily depend on two factors — the type of business and its capacity to spend.

If you get food delivered frequently, your best option is to go with a subscription-based platform. Good news is that both ChowNow and Restolabs work on a monthly subscription model, which means that you can always start with a monthly plan and see if that platform is truly compatible with your business needs.

As for pricing, ChowNow is an established name and their approach to marketing is quite different. Their pricing is also higher and restaurants with more than one location have to pay additional prices to use licensed software and tablets to run the day to day operations. The annual plan starts at $119 per month and $399 fee per location, plus credit card processing fees. They do offer other packages for a one-year or two-year sign up to suit the specific requirements of businesses.

In comparison, Restolabs aims at delivering the same band of features at affordable prices. Since the primary focus of platform is to create an eco-system where restaurants can thrive in the online space without having to spend a lot of money each month, their plans have been designed to suit all kinds of budget and requirement. Companies can even get customized packages depending upon their existing requirement. The basic plan starts from $45/month. You can register online and use it 100% for free, for 30 days. This means you get a first-hand chance to try out the entire system properly and see if meets your requirements. Sadly, ChowNow doesn’t have a free trial system.

Restolabs vs ChowNow — Which one is best suited to your restaurant business?

Before investing in an online restaurant ordering software, checking out key factors such as company profiles as well as the services, products, and packages offered by them is important.

With all the available options for online ordering and delivery platforms, understanding which is most compatible with your business is essential in increasing reach and revenue, whilst successfully serving customers. Determine your restaurant’s daily needs, do your research, and decide what is best for your business.

If you’re looking for a smooth and scalable ordering process that’s reliable and easy to use, then you may want to look into software systems built specifically for your restaurant needs. Ultimately, the best solution for online ordering and delivery will come down to what your restaurant’s requirements are on a daily basis.

Writer | Digital Marketer | Entrepreneur. Good food and a Good Book keep me sane!