Margins in the food industry are already thin, and thanks to the 20-30% commission charged by Uber Eats, they get a lot thinner. With a self-hosted Uber Eats alternative, you can cut out the middleman and keep all of your hard-earned revenue for your store.
Sure, there are other Uber Eats alternatives when it comes to food delivery apps, like DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, and more. But those food delivery services all share two overriding drawbacks – commissions and lack of ownership.
Instead of paying commissions to other services for every order, you can create your own Uber Eats alternative using WordPress, the free software that powers 35%+ of all the websites on the Internet.
With WordPress and a free extension called WooCommerce, you can host your own online restaurant ordering system. You’ll pay one flat-rate to host your system – there’s no additional commission for each order. What’s more, you don’t need any special technical knowledge and your system will still be secure and easy to use on mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets.
In this post, you’ll learn step-by-step how to create your own restaurant ordering (alternatively your restaurant reservation system) that looks something like this:
Why WordPress Makes a Great Uber Eats Alternative
- It works on all devices. Whether people order food from their computers, tablets, or smartphones, they’ll be able to place an order at your site.
- Transparent pricing. While there are some costs associated with running the free core WordPress software, those costs are flat and transparent. You’ll never pay more just because your restaurant had a great month.
- Self-owned. With Uber Eats, Seamless, Caviar, Eat24, Deliveroo, and others, you don’t own your own digital presence. That means your restaurant is at the whims of another company. With WordPress, you’re 100% in control and you can rank your website in Google to connect directly with shoppers.
- WooCommerce. WooCommerce is a free extension for WordPress that lets you add eCommerce functionality to your site. You can use it to add your food menu, process orders, and even accept online payments if that fits your strategy (or – you can also keep using your existing restaurant POS).
So how much will it cost to create your own Uber Eats alternative? While the core WordPress software is free, there are a few associated costs. At a minimum, here’s what you’ll pay for:
- Website hosting: ~$300 for an entire year. This is what powers WordPress and your restaurant ordering system.
- A domain name: ~$10 for an entire year. This controls your website’s branding.
- WooCommerce Product Table: $99 for an entire year. This lets you use WooCommerce to create an optimized food menu for your visitors to order from.
So at a minimum, you can create a working online food delivery system for about $410 for an entire year, or ~$34 per month.
There are also some other extensions that you may or may not want depending on your needs. But even if you purchase these extensions, they’ll all be flat prices as well, and you should be able to keep your total costs under ~$70 per month.
How to Create an Uber Eats Alternative with WordPress
Here’s a high-level look at how to create an Uber Eats alternative with WordPress:
- Purchase hosting and install WordPress
- Configure WooCommerce using the setup wizard
- Add your menu items as products
- Create your front-end ordering menu
- Restrict shipping to your delivery areas
- Set up notifications for new orders
- Enhance your online ordering system if needed
1. Sign Up for Hosting and Install WordPress/WooCommerce
To get started, you need to purchase web hosting and install the core WordPress and WooCommerce software.
There are a lot of hosts out there at varying price points, but Kinsta is a great starting point when it comes to the balance of price, performance, and ease of use.
Once you purchase hosting from Kinsta, Kinsta offers an easy setup tool to help you install both the WordPress software as well as the WooCommerce eCommerce plugin:
Once you complete the install wizard, you can access your WordPress dashboard by visiting yourdomain.com/wp-admin.
If you want to change the design of your restaurant site, you can also install a dedicated WordPress restaurant theme by accessing Appearance → Themes in your WordPress dashboard after you finish this tutorial.
2. Set Up WooCommerce
As soon as you log in to your WordPress site, you’ll see a prompt to launch the WooCommerce setup wizard.
This wizard will take you through the basics of setting up your food ordering system:
If you want to accept online payments when people order, this wizard can help you configure credit card processing via Stripe, PayPal, Amazon Pay, and more. Or, if you want to accept offline payments, you can choose cash on delivery.
3. Add Your Menu Items as WooCommerce Products
Once you’ve configured the basic WooCommerce settings, you’re ready to add your food menu items.
You’ll add each dish as a separate “product” in WooCommerce.
To do this, visit Products → Add New in your WordPress dashboard. At the top of the Add new product interface, you should:
- Add the title of the dish – e.g. “Chicken sandwich”
- Enter a short description for the dish
- Upload a photo to use on your menu
- Use “categories” and “tags” to organize your dishes. For example, a category could be “Sandwich” and then you could tag a sandwich as “Gluten-free”.
Next, scroll down to the Product data box to add more nitty-gritty details, like the price of a dish:
If you have a simple dish with no modifications or sizes, that’s all you need to configure.
But if you have an item where people can choose modifications (like size or toppings), you can use product variations or product add-ons to add those choices to your menu:
- Add-on – you should use an add-on when a shopper can choose multiple options, like selecting multiple toppings for a pizza. To use product add-ons, you can install the official Product Add-ons plugin.
- Variation – you should use variations when a shopper can only choose a single option, like the size of a pizza. To add a variation, choose Variable product instead of Simple product at the top of the Product data box.
Once you’re finished, you’ll need to repeat the process for each item on your menu.
4. Create Your Front-End Menu
Once you’ve added all your menu items as WooCommerce products, you’re ready to create the front-end food ordering menu for your Uber Eats alternative.
By default, WooCommerce displays your food items in a traditional eCommerce store grid layout, which isn’t ideal for an online food ordering system.
To fix that, you can use the WooCommerce Product Table plugin to create a more optimized food ordering menu like you saw in the example at the beginning.
Once you install the plugin, head to WooCommerce → Settings → Products → Product tables to configure its settings.
You should check out all the settings here, but the most important setting is Columns, as that’s where you control what information displays on your menu. Here’s a good starting point:
Once you’ve configured the plugin, you can display your menu on the front-end by adding the following shortcode to a WordPress page:
If you want to break your menu into different sections, you can also modify the shortcode to display specific categories or tags like this:
- [product_table category=”sandwiches”]
- [product_table category=”burgers”]
You could also create a dedicated category or tag for popular food items to feature them at the top of your menu.
Here’s what it might look like in the WordPress editor:
And after publishing your page, you’ll see the front-end menu for your Uber Eats alternative:
Now, you just need to take care of a few other housekeeping details.
5. Restrict Shipping Areas If Offering Delivery
If you plan to offer food delivery, you’ll probably want to restrict orders to just your delivery zone.
To restrict where you’ll deliver orders, you can create a WooCommerce shipping zone:
- Go to WooCommerce → Settings → Shipping in your WordPress dashboard.
- Select Add shipping zone.
- Use the link to Limit to specific ZIP/postcodes
- Add the specific zip codes where your restaurant offers delivery
You can also set up a different delivery fee for different zip codes if needed and even offer free delivery where applicable.
If you want to allow takeout orders, you can also add a “Local pickup” shipping option.
6. Create Backend Processes for New Order Notifications
Once you start receiving food orders, it’s important that your staff see a notification right away so that they can start cooking.
By default, WooCommerce will immediately send an email notification when you receive a new order, which might be all you need if you’re able to leave an email window open on your restaurant POS.
If needed, though, you can also get notified in other ways:
- Smartphone push notification – with the official WooCommerce mobile apps for iPhone/iOS and Android, you can get push notifications for new orders on your smartphone or tablet.
- SMS – receive a new text message with the WooSMS plugin. You can also send text updates to people who order food.
- Physical printing – you can automatically print new orders on your printer with WooCommerce Automatic Order Printing and Google Cloud Print.
- Desktop notifications – get desktop notifications on your computer with YITH Desktop Notifications for WooCommerce.
7. Further Enhance Your Uber Eats Alternative
Right now, you already have a working Uber Eats alternative that’s ready to start accepting orders.
But if you want to further tweak how your Uber Eats alternative functions, here are some useful tools…
- Add opening/closing times – you can use the WooCommerce Opening Hours & Chosen Times plugin to automatically close your ordering system outside of your delivery times.
- Accept tips – you can let shoppers tip your staff with the Name Your Price plugin.
- Run special deals – to offer special deals and coupons, you can use the WooCommerce Dynamic Pricing plugin.
Create Your Own Uber Eats Alternative Today
With WordPress and WooCommerce, you can create your own self-hosted food ordering system for your local restaurant.
You’ll be fully in control of your online food ordering presence and you won’t have to pay a commission to delivery companies like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and GrubHub.
Get started today with WordPress, WooCommerce, and the WooCommerce Product Table plugin and connect directly with your hungry customers.
If you are still not sure about your own capabilities, contact a professional restaurant marketing agency that would either help you at the beginning or could create this for you completely.
If you need any help with your restaurant Social Media marketing efforts get in touch today.