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Self-serve Ordering Open Tabs with Square Online

Note: Enable self-serve ordering by upgrading your Square Online site.

Self-serve ordering through Square Online offers a contactless, in-person ordering experience that increases safety and workflow efficiency while enhancing the guest experience. As customers order, they can opt to leave their tab open, allowing them to continue ordering items on the same tab throughout their stay. They’ll enter payment information upfront, but won’t need to check out and pay until the end of their visit. With open tabs disabled, customers would otherwise need to pay for each order individually.

Open tabs provide benefits including:

  • Enhanced guest experience: Customers can continue ordering on the same tab without inputting their payment info multiple times. They'll only see one charge on their statements.

  • Increase average ticket sizes: Guests are more likely to keep ordering when it’s this easy to do. Some sellers saw up to a 42% increase in average ticket size with this feature.

  • Preserve your margins: When customers keep ordering on the same tab instead of making separate transactions, you'll only pay the standard transaction fee one time.

  • Increase tip sizes: With open tabs, guests close out and tip at the end of the transaction rather than before the order has been fulfilled, increasing their likelihood to tip higher.

  • Reduce unpaid walkouts: If a customer leaves without paying, the pre-authorized card will be automatically charged 2 hours after the last order on the tab.

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.

Enable Open Tabs

After setting up self-serve ordering, you can enable open tabs by following these steps:

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

  2. Select Edit by the location in question.

  3. Toggle on Enable open tabs.

When customers put their entire party on one order and keep their tab open, you'll pay just one transaction fee for their entire stay rather than multiple. This means that open tabs can help make the ordering process much easier for you and your customers alike.

Customer Experience

The following flow is how your customers will experience open tabs with self-serve ordering:

  1. The customer starts by scanning your QR code. Once they select their items and enter their card number, they can choose to keep the tab open.

  2. The customer receives a text confirmation of their order. At this point, their card is pre-authorized, and the order can print in your kitchen or appear on your kitchen display system.

  3. If the customer still has their browser open or the confirmation text, they can select the link to add items to their order, or close and pay. They can also rescan the QR code to do the same.

  4. After 1 hour, the customer receives a text reminder to close their tab and pay.

  5. As customers pay, they can enter a tip.

  6. The customer receives a thank you text confirming their order was complete.

  7. The customer’s card is charged for the order total and any pending pre-authorizations will drop off.

Note: If your customer doesn't close and pay 2 hours after their last order, the tab will auto-close with the default tip and your customer will receive a confirmation text.


Can I edit an open tab from my Square POS?

There isn’t a way to add or remove an item in an open tab at this time. If you need to refund an item, this can be done after the tab has been closed, which includes any discounts. The item(s) can then be refunded from the transactions tab in your POS.

Will my guest be reminded to pay their tab?

Yes. Each time a guest adds to their order, they’ll receive a text confirmation with a link to close the tab and pay.

  • 1 hour after the last order, your guest will receive a text reminding them to pay.
  • 2 hours after the last order, the tab will auto-close with your default tip and the guest will receive a text confirmation that their card was charged.

What happens if my guest leaves without paying? Can I close the tab from my Square POS?

Closing tabs from your POS isn’t possible at this time. Tabs left open will auto-close 2 hours after the last order. They can also be manually completed from Orders in your Square Online Overview page. To start:

  1. In your Square Online Overview page, go to Orders.
  2. Select All Statuses > Open.
  3. Choose the order and select Close

Why don’t I see open tabs in my transactions?

The orders for completed open tabs will show in transactions once the tab has been paid and closed. To view an ongoing open tab and its related orders, go to the Order Manager in your POS. 

How does tipping on open tabs work?

Just like with all online orders, you can enable tipping in Checkout settings found in your Square Online Overview page, and set a default tip amount that’s automatically calculated and added to the order. Customers will see the tip as a separate line item and can edit the tip amount before completing the purchase. These tips can be viewed from Reports in your Dashboard (filtered by source: “Square Online”).

Why did my guest see several pending charges?

It may take some banks a few days to resolve and finalize pending charges. 

What risk do I assume in using open tabs?

The risk in using open tabs is very low. There’s a very small chance the auto-close will fail due to insufficient funds. In such cases, the customer will be notified via text and prompted to re-enter their payment info to close their tab.