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Set Up Self-serve Ordering and QR Codes with Square Online

Self-serve ordering through Square Online offers a contactless, in-person ordering experience that increases safety and workflow efficiency. Instead of browsing a paper menu and placing orders with a staff member, customers use their mobile devices to scan a QR code at their table, seat, parking spot or anywhere you want them to order from.

In order to better prepare for your self-serve operations, take a look at best practices for self-serve ordering through Square Online for helpful tips.

Here’s a general overview of how self-serve ordering works:

Self-serve ordering overview

  1. QR codes are automatically generated when you set up self-serve ordering. You’ll have a unique code for every table, seat or any other station. Print and place an ordering card wherever you want customers to order from.
  2. Guests scan the QR code to open your online ordering page using their mobile device. They can select items, add special requests, place their order and pay directly from their mobile device. Since everything’s processed online, there’s no need to handle credit cards or cash.
  3. Once your customer completes their order, the order will appear on your Square POS, and feed directly to your kitchem ticket printer or kitchen display system (KDS). Since each QR code is connected to a specific ordering station, your staff can see exactly where each order came from.
  4. Fulfil the self-serve order in whatever way works best for your business. Customers will see instructions and other information on your online ordering page that let them know what to expect.

Start Self-serve Ordering Setup

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You can set up self-serve ordering for one or more locations. In your Square Online Overview page, go to Fulfilment > Self-Serve Ordering and select Set up QR codes.

Things to know before you start

Here are a few things you need to know before getting started with self-serve ordering:

  • Your website must be published to use self-serve ordering. The QR codes send customers to your website, so it won’t work if the site isn’t published. You can publish your website in your Square Online site editor by selecting Publish.
  • Self-serve ordering only works with the Order Online single ordering page template. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to create or switch to the Order Online template.
  • If you have more than one website, make sure you’ve selected the site you want to link the QR codes to. You can switch sites using the site switcher menu in the Square Online Overview page.

After you select Set up QR codes, proceed using the following steps.

Choose Items

Items must have self-serve ordering selected as a fulfilment method. Select the items you’d like to make available for self-serve ordering using the tick boxes, then select Continue.

Note: You can also update fulfilment settings later for multiple items at once in your Square Online Overview pagein Items > Site Items by using the bulk editing method.

Learn more about adding items and categories to Square Online.

Add Customer Instructions

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Enter any information your customers need to know when placing or receiving orders. These instructions are shown after customers scan a QR code and after they submit an order.

You can see a preview for each set of instructions during setup. Select Continue when you’re finished adding instructions.

Create Ordering Cards

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To generate your ordering cards, enter the number of stations you have and create a label for them. Stations are the places where you’ll display the ordering cards. For example, if you have 12 booths, you would enter the number 12 and the label Booth. That will create 12 unique QR codes, one for each of your booths.

You can also create sections if you have additional areas from which guests can place orders. For example, you could create separate sections for indoor and outdoor seating areas, each with individual sets of ordering cards.

To add a new section

  1. Select +Add section on the ordering card creation page.
  2. Enter a name for this section (e.g. Patio), and use the toggle to show or hide the section name on the ordering cards.
  3. Enter a name for the stations within this section (e.g. Tables or Booths).
  4. Enter the number of stations in this section and optionally choose a custom starting number if your stations are numbered differently. You can also enter a unique name for each station. For example, if you run a bed-and-breakfast with themed rooms, you might create an ‘Upstairs’ section with three uniquely named rooms.
  5. Select Submit when finished to save your changes.

To edit a section

  1. Select the section row to open the editing window.
  2. Make any changes you want and select Submit to save.

To delete or duplicate a section

  1. Select the menu button next to the section you want to copy or delete.
  2. Select Delete or Duplicate from the menu.

Note: If you have other locations with self-serve ordering enabled, you can also import sections from those locations. Select Import groups from location and select the sections you want to include, then select Import.

Print or Export Ordering Cards

You can choose to export the QR codes or print your ordering cards.

  • The export option generates a ZIP file with individual PNG images for each QR code and the associated station number (e.g. Booth 3). You can use these images if you’d prefer to design your own station cards. You can also hire an expert to create custom ordering cards through our partnership with 99designs.

  • The print option generates a PDF file with four ordering cards per page. These will display your company name and look like the example image shown during setup.

Note: To try out the live ordering process, you can use your phone to scan a QR code from your screen and place a test order to see it in action.

To print ordering cards or export QR codes:

  1. In your Square Online Overview page, go to Fulfilment > Self-Serve Ordering.

  2. Select Export QR codes to download and save the ZIP file, or select Print ordering cards to open a PDF file in a new window for printing or saving.

Whichever option you choose, you’ll need to place each card at the corresponding station once they’re printed.

Edit Self-serve Ordering Settings

Self-serve ordering has additional settings you can edit or enable after setup.

Edit ordering cards

You can edit your ordering cards at any time by selecting View details from the Self-Serve Ordering page and selecting Edit under ‘Ordering cards’.

Note: If you choose to edit your ordering cards by reducing the number of stations you have, you’ll also end up disabling the QR codes you’ve already created. For example, if you lower the number of stations from 12 to 10, then the existing ordering cards for stations 11 and 12 will no longer work.

Enable open tabs

Enabling open tabs allows customers to continue ordering items on the same tab throughout their visit. They’ll enter payment information upfront, but won’t need to check out and pay until the end of their stay. With open tabs disabled, customers need to pay individually for each order they place.

To enable open tabs, select View details from the Self-Serve Ordering page and toggle it on.

Learn more about self-serve ordering open tabs with Square Online.

Sell alcohol

With self-serve ordering, you can allow your customers to place alcohol orders online while dining at your restaurant or attending your event. You can also place a limit on how many alcoholic items a customer can order.

To allow alcoholic items for self-serve orders, select View details from the Self-Serve Ordering page and select Edit under Alcohol. Toggle this feature on and set an optional limit. Select Save to apply the changes.

Learn more about selling alcohol with Square Online for additional details specific to self-serve ordering.

Add a service fee

To add a service fee for self-serve orders, select View details from the Self-Serve Ordering page and select Edit under ‘Service fee’. Choose either a set amount or a percentage of the total, then enter the amount or percentage you’d like to charge. Select Save to apply the changes.

Edit customer instructions

You can edit your customer instructions at any time by selecting View details from the Self-Serve Ordering page and selecting Edit under ‘Instructions to customers’.

You can also use these other optional features with self-serve ordering.

Enable customer notes

You can let your customers leave you a note when placing an order. Turning this feature on makes it available for any type of online order.

To enable customer notes:

  1. In your Square Online Overview page, go to Settings > Checkout or Shared Settings > Checkout.
  2. Select Edit customer inputs.
  3. Under ‘Checkout fields’, tick the box to allow notes from customers.
  4. Select Save when finished.

Order tipping

Turn on tipping to let your customers leave a tip on their order. You can set a default tip percentage or leave it blank. Customers can change the amount or opt to not leave a tip when they check out.

To enable tipping:

  1. In your Square Online Overview page, go to Settings > Checkout or Shared Settings > Checkout.
  2. Select Edit customer inputs.
  3. Select the toggle under ‘Order tipping’ and select a default amount from the menu.
  4. Select Save when finished.

Note: If you offer pickup and/or local delivery, tipping settings will also apply to those fulfilment types.

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