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Order & Pay: What Is It And How To Choose The Right App Service

Stephen Hart

Stephen Hart

Founder - Cardswitcher

Former - Chief Financial Officer @ Worldpay

Even without the arrival of Coronavirus, businesses long seemed set to go contactless. But with the pandemic speeding up the process, many hospitality businesses have looked for systems such as order and pay to continue operating safely.

Introducing order and pay apps has been just one of the ways businesses have done so, improving safety, efficiency and turn-around time all through the use of an app.

So what exactly is order and pay? We’ll run through how order and pay apps work, what the pros and cons are, and how to choose the right one for your business.


What is order and pay?

An order and pay app essentially enables customers to view the menu, order what they want, and then pay with just a few taps of their mobile phone.

In most cases it works according to the following steps:

  • Customers are seated by staff.
  • They scan a QR code using their mobile phone or device.
  • The QR code directs to a website or app where they can view the menu.
  • Customers choose what they want to order, and pay directly through the app.

It can be used in addition to an established Electric Point of Sale (EPOS) system or pdq machine, or as a stand alone means of payment. Just as you have card machine charges with an EPOS, you’ll also normally have a fee per transaction through the app.


woman scanning qr code


Different order and pay options (apps, etc)

If you’re investigating order and pay for the first time, it’s important to look into the three different types - native apps , web based apps and POS based apps .

Native apps

With native apps, it simply means you have an app that your customer can download onto their mobile phone or device, and use to order.

It’s potentially a less favourable option amongst customers, taking additional time to download and work out the app. However it does offer more customisation and features like notifications.

This comes at a cost though, and creating a native app specifically for your business can work out fairly expensive. If you’re set on having an app, it’s worth looking into white label suppliers. They essentially build and design generic apps that they sell to you to brand as your own, and are usually cheaper than building one from scratch.

Web-based apps

A web-based app is accessed through the use of a QR code that directs the customer online to a browser.

As there’s no download or wait involved, this may be preferred by customers. It’s the most popular option, and also the most cost effective. If you don’t want the complications or cost of developing a native app, a web-based app is ideal and simple to establish.

A POS-based app

Point of Sale based apps will integrate with the technology you’re already using, and can be really simple to set up if your provider is accustomed to doing so.

Similar to a web-based app, customers will access a digital menu through a QR code, where their order is placed and processed using your existing POS technology.


How to pick right one for your business

Choosing the right order and pay system really depends on what you’re hoping to get out of it.

If you’re weighing it up against EPOS advantages and disadvantages, there’s no need to choose between one or the other. Most order and pay systems can be used alongside existing systems, even epos systems for small businesses.

Custom features and functions offer the greatest flexibility, and you'll be able to get exactly what you want out of the app. However you’ll need to explore developers who can create a native app for you. This can work out expensive, and unless you have frequent repeat business, customers might begrudge downloading an app to use once.

Web-based apps are less costly to set up, and offer much of the same functions. They’re also likely the easiest for customers to use if you have a quick turnover.

With an established EPOS system it’s probably simplest to speak with your provider. They may be able to recommend the best type of POS-based app that will work with what you already have in place.


food with qr code to pay



There are so many benefits to order and pay systems beyond the convenience.

Busy restaurants or cafes can get customers in and out quickly, and additional drinks or refreshments can be easily ordered. There's no need to wait around for a staff member to appear for the bill, as it's all been paid for!

It can even establish better communication in large restaurants or premises with spaced out seating arrangements. There’s no need to constantly run around large restaurants to check on tables, as customers can order anything they want through their phone. Some systems even offer an option to flag a waiter, so staff are immediately aware if a table needs assistance.

If you’ve got a large menu, it’s handy to organise this too. You can set up functionalities to filter by allergen, or dietary requirement, and even promote new offerings.

In addition to the above, there’s so many advantages to a pay and order app:

  • Increased profit.
  • Reduced wait times.
  • Staff focused on making drinks and delivering orders.
  • Reduced traffic around the premises.
  • Useful as a marketing tool for new products or promotions.
  • Offer different payment methods like PayPal, and ApplePay.



There’s a lot to like about order and pay, and there’s no doubt that it benefits both businesses and customers. However, it is important to note that there could be potential drawbacks.

Though the system was successfully introduced in 2017 by Wetherspoons, there was a hesitation that the concept might hinder custom. Order and pay apps and systems have since grown substantially, chiefly due to reduced contact time between servers and customers. But the system does effectively change the entire customer service experience.

High-end and fine dining restaurants in particular could find customers are less satisfied with a digital service. A web-based app can be used in conjunction with table service, however could cause confusion. Wait staff may struggle to decipher which tables require waiting, and it could complicate rather simplifying service.



Though you’ll have to pay up initially for order and pay, there’s little question that it’s worth the investment.

Businesses will benefit from increased profit, and an overall smoother running service. 

If you’re setting up for the first time and still looking into the best card readers to use alongside order and pay, be sure to head to CardSwitcher. You can compare card processing fees, and save up to 40% on your Debit and Credit Card processing fees.


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Written by:
Stephen Hart

Stephen Hart

Founder - Cardswitcher

Former - Chief Financial Officer @ Worldpay

Stephen brings a wealth of experience honed through years in the financial sector, particularly in the card processing payments industry. His illustrious career spans key roles at PwC, Natwest, and the role of CFO at WorldPay, before going on to found card processing comparison site, CardSwitcher. He is passionate about helping growing businesses to understand the card processing landscape so they can make savvy financial decisions.