10 Must-Have Features to Make Online Ordering Work for Catering Orders

If your software can't do everything on this list, you'll STILL end up taking orders over the phone.

There’s a lot of online ordering software claiming to work for catering. Caterers buy it and end up disappointed when they find out it can’t do basic things that are critical to their business.

The goal of this list is to help you learn from the mistakes of others so you don’t end up wasting your time on the wrong software.

1. Control Dates When Orders Can be Picked Up or Delivered

One of the biggest failures of online ordering software is they don’t let you control the dates clients can choose for their delivery or pickup order.

There’s no point in having online ordering if you have to keep calling clients back to tell them you can’t fulfill their order.

Make sure your software let’s you:

  • Control Days and Times clients can choose (i.e Mon – Sat 11AM to 6PM; Tuesday weekly meals)
  • Use Specific Times vs Windows of Time (i.e order will be ready between 11AM – 12PM)
  • Block Specific Dates & Times you aren’t available
HoneyCart lets you control the Days and Times clients can choose for delivery or pickup. Set your times to be specific or windows.

2. Enforce Catering Policies During the Ordering Process

Worried about last-minute orders or changes?

Many caterers have a false-belief that online ordering will be like a firehose of orders they can’t control, and end up with a bunch of pissed off customers you’ll have to turn away.

To avoid this, your software needs to bake your catering policies right into the ordering process:

  • Enforce a Lead Time or deadline for clients to submit orders or make changes so you have enough advanced notice
  • Require a Minimum Order Amount to make sure clients order enough for delivery vs pickups
  • Automatically charge a Cancellation Fee if clients cancel after your cut-off time
  • Calculate Delivery, Service & Credit Card Fees at the time the order is placed
With HoneyCart, clients can only choose a date & time that gives you 72 hours advanced notice (i.e lead time)
HoneyCart won't let clients place their order until they meet the Min. Order Amount.

3. Confirm or Reject Orders

Still worried about a huge, last-minute order for tomorrow sneaking in?

Then your software needs to give you a way to Confirm or Reject orders.

That way if you can’t fulfill it, simply reject it.

You might be thinking: “What if the client’s credit card was already charged? Won’t they be annoyed and I’ll have to refund them?”

Read the next section to see how to avoid this…

HoneyCart gives you the option to Confirm or Reject any order you receive just in case you can't fulfill it.

4. Control When Credit Cards Get Charged

Most online ordering software will charge the customer’s credit card as soon as they place the order.

This could be bad for catering orders if:

  • You may need to review the order to make sure they’ve ordered enough food
  • You want to upsell them
  • There’s a change in headcount the week of their event

To avoid annoying clients with returns, make sure your system gives you full control over WHEN the credit card gets charged:

  • Lets you choose when to charge the credit card (i.e do it manually vs automatically; immediately when order is placed vs before/after their event; )

  • Ability to charge Deposits

  • Save Credit Card for future orders
HoneyCart lets you charge credit cards manually just in case you need to review the order before confirming/rejecting it.

5. Take Holiday Orders And Normal Orders At Same Time

Most online ordering software isn’t smart enough to treat holiday orders differently than your normal catering orders.

For example:

  • Thanksgiving Menu is ONLY available for Thanksgiving orders (not normal corporate lunch orders)
  • Start taking orders in early October with a deadline of the Friday before Thanksgiving at 5pm
  • Clients can only choose Pickup/Delivery for Thanksgiving Day 10am – 2pm
  • Thanksgiving orders must be for a Minimum of $120, or Guest Count of 12 people

Caterers need a software that lets you have a different set of menus, dates, policies etc for your Holiday vs Normal orders.

With HoneyCart, you can take holiday and normal catering orders at same time by setting different menus, dates, policies etc for your holiday orders.

6. Let Clients Make Changes On Their Own

We know it’s a huge pain in the ass when clients ask you to make changes when you’re busy.

That’s why your software needs to give them a way to login to make changes or cancel their order WITHOUT having to call you.

BUT, the software should also enforce a cut-off time to prevent last minute changes, as well as charge a fee for late-cancellations.

HoneyCart lets clients login to make changes, while letting you set a cut-off time to prevent last minute changes.

7. Date-Specific vs Normal Menus

Besides the typical “Choose 2 meats & 2 sides” per guest, make sure the menu lets you:

  • Use Date Specific Menus (i.e Weekly Specials, Taco Tuesdays, Holidays)
  • Hide “Special Instructions” so clients can’t make substitutes
  • Enforce a Min Qty for the item
  • Upsell chafing dishes, utensils & other things clients always need
HoneyCart lets you hide the Special Instructions and set a Min QTY that must be ordered.
HoneyCart lets you have Date-Specific menus for daily, weekly, or holiday menus. This screenshot shows a Taco Tuesday menu if a Tuesday is chosen.
HoneyCart lets you upsell clients before they submit their order.

8. Download Kitchen Prep Reports

Most online ordering software assume their job is done after the credit card gets charged.

That means they can’t tell you how much food your kitchen needs to prepare for any given date.

You end up spending hours going through each ticket calculating everything by hand.

Make sure your software lets you download this info in just a few clicks.

HoneyCart gives you detailed portion reports for any given date.
You can also see how much each client ordered.

9. Offer Rewards & Amazon Gift Cards

ezCater has been able to take so much market share because it incentivizes customers to keep coming back with rewards and Amazon Gift Cards.

It’s hard for anybody to compete against them unless they can offer the same.

Make sure your software has a way to let customers earn rewards and redeem them for food or Amazon cards.

With HoneyCart, your clients can earn rewards for food or Amazon gift cards.

10. Flat Monthly Pricing, No Commissions.

If you’re sending clients to 3rd-party catering sites like ezCater, you’re giving up a huge cut of your profits just to have convenient online ordering.

Make sure your online ordering solution is COMMISSION-FREE, only charges a flat monthly price, and you 100% own & control it.

Also make sure you have the ability to cancel any time so you aren’t locked into a bad investment if things don’t work out.

If you use a site like ezCater, you'll pay huge commissions. HoneyCart is commission-free. Monthly plans start at $79 per month. Cancel any time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does HoneyCart have all of these must-haves?

HoneyCart is an online ordering software built specifically for catering orders, and YES we have all of these features and more.

Over the years, we’ve collected feedback from our top customers (members of ICA, LCA, top restaurants across US) so we build features that work exactly how caterers need them to.

Here’s what some of them have to say:

“It has been amazing to have orders come in while we are at meetings, site visits, etc knowing that normally they would have been calls or emails we would have had to deal with.”
Julie Ellis
The Chef's Table Catering & Events
Marshfield, MA
“The time I spent processing orders has been cut by over 80% and it’s been such a relief and help to have more time on my hands.”
Elizabeth Choto
Founder, Graze Dat Catering
New Orleans, LA
“HoneyCart allows my small business to maintain a solid bottom line- less money on [ezCater] commission means more money to grow the business and compete in a highly competitive field with rising costs.”
Will Blass
Owner, Seasoned with Love
Hattiesburg, MS

How long does it take to setup HoneyCart?

Some caterers can setup HoneyCart on their own in just a few hours. It really depends on how big your menu is.

We also offer a Done-For-You Account Setup service that can have you ready to take orders in 48 hrs.

How does HoneyCart work?

  1. Setup your HoneyCart account by entering your menus and catering policies
  2. Add your HoneyCart link to your website and social media
  3. Clients click on that link, choose the date & time for their event, their food, and enter their payment info
  4. Both you and the client receive an email notification when the order is placed
  5. You have the option to confirm or reject the order, and to charge the card immediately when the order is placed or closer to their Event Date
  6. Your kitchen can download reports to prepare the food for the Event Date

How much does HoneyCart cost?

HoneyCart plans start at $79 per month. See all of our pricing plans.

Do you offer a Money-Back Guarantee?

Yes. If you’re not happy for any reason, HoneyCart has a 30 day money-back guarantee on both the cost of the software and your setup fee. 

Ready to Get Started?

Whether you're ready to start using HoneyCart or have questions, Book a Demo now.