How to set the system to accept far-ahead orders?

I want clients to be able to place orders for next month or next quarter, bakery bulks and special catering orders…

Our tool is designed to be an ordering tool, not a pre-ordering tool so we do not handle pre-order intentions typically placed far into the future which have high chances of being modified several times until the client will purchase it.

To have people  “book their interest ” in a certain dish months in advance, we recommend to use some standard webpage+webforms in the website and send to those interested clients an email few days before the order is really due and available for ordering online, to confirm their pre-ordering intention with a final order.

It is good to mention that typically such “far ahead” requests come with a lot comments, questions and exceptions that may not be effectively cleared up with online ordering. We strongly believe that a quick phone call does wonders, as anyway almost no orders are placed 100% online for such outstanding cases.

Most likely an order like this is placed in advance to deal with some birthday or event. People would like to make sure that the restaurants doesn’t forget about them and ask detailed questions. It will probably be a volume order and the client would like to get a custom price, outside the menu price list etc.. Therefore, for a very far-ahead order like this the restaurant will always need to call/prompt the client to figure out when to deliver and what.

But that’s outside the scope of our “clear-cut” real-time ordering system. It may be needed to hire someone that would sit down and draw clear flow specs in order to create a custom ‘negotiation” style confirmation solution, with logical flows specific to your particular idea/business. Or, the clients might  “subscribe” to a “take it or leave it” fixed menu with fixed delivery hours plan in an ongoing catering-deal experience. Anyway, a different system than what we’re doing here.

We do have cake shops using our system but most of them operate a business model in which same-day orders can be also fulfilled. (e.g. ).

We do know also of some “slow moving” bakeries that use our system anyway but they basically mis-use the system a bit and the same-day orders are discouraged by site announcements and/or simple & blunt order rejections. e.g.

What we can tell for sure is that nowadays our system is specifically designed for establishments focused on intensive online selling and when trying to increase the base of online clients accepting orders in real-time, also same-day service is a critical as most online clients expect and demand instant gratification. So we do not currently target nor develop targeted features for the next-day-only/next-week-only business models.

There are some workarounds available though:

The order for later feature allows the clients to ask for a delivery time and the restaurant can only accept or reject the order, without modifying that time.. The “order for now” default mode means that people order and the restaurant tells them the soonest delivery time when accepting the order.

In the order for later settings, set “the earliest” (minimum 30 min). The other parameter there defines how “late” the later can be allowed and is counted in days (maximum 8 days). So for example if the restaurant allows 240 min earliest later and 8 days the “latest” later, people can request eating times between these values and depending on what the order may contain, the restaurant may accept or reject the order as placed.

Read more about these options here.

If there are some items that require a long time to cook, we recommend writing in the item description box “We can fulfill this only if ordered 48 hours in advance. We reserve the right to reject your order if the requested fulfillment time is shorter”.

We do not allow food clients to ask for fulfillment later than 8 days in the future, as most restaurants do not want to take such long-term commitments especially since such food clients tend to change their mind, ask all sort of additional questions or simply forget about that order so a call settlement plus a call follow up 1 day prior to fulfillment is anyway highly required for such cases.

To take orders further in future, the restaurant may simply encourage people to email or fill in their inquiry into a website form as free text. This is not anymore about binding ordering…this is just classic prospect buyer interest notification with sales call follow up and will have to be handled accordingly.

In other words we strongly believe the restaurant/bakery/catering company will have almost no one order online for their next month birthday or event catering without asking, when exactly the food will arrive, how the cake can bear a custom inscription, if they get an additional volume discount beyond what’s available for “normal” orders, if t is also possible to have a special gluten free pizza shaped like a heart or..whatever other custom things they are keen on having to make their event memorable and pleasant for all their guests.

Also, if the restaurant cannot fulfill any order same-day:

a) Here is for example a restaurant of ours using a custom comment to instruct clients about special delivery conditions.

In a similar fashion we could write something similar to encourage clients to call for orders later than one week in advance.
That would kill the appetite for “order for now” orders – make sure is good for the business.

This type of timing logic can be applied more granular when creating promo deals/rules:

b) enable order for later but have the restaurant logically open just one hour early every morning,  to get the orders that gathered while the restaurant was closed. At the same time, make a schedule to not display any item in the menu during the one-hour real-time opening window, just to prevent anyone from ordering live:

The more restrictive the business terms are, the harder it is to design some nice client experience.