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Has anyone successfully used Expresso Store for food ordering/delivery? The biggest complication I can foresee is with choosing realistic time slots which the restaurant can easily control during their busy times.

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We were building a table booking/on-line food ordering system a-top Expresso Store for Our Canberra but we hit a number of problems, and ended up deciding to start developing our own shopping cart plugin from scratch.

We've performed a solid years worth of market research and usability testing with both end-users, restaurants and their staff and Expresso:Store just doesn't have the flexibility to really suit the online ordering workflow.

Early design alpha screenshot of our site: OurCanberra Food Ordering

The notable issues we faced:

  • Expresso:Store backend management is horrible and too simple. You need to be able to edit orders, and preferably have complete design control over the layout.
  • It's not really suited for allowing customers to edit line items in a sensible fashion, which you really require for food ordering. E.g. "No pickle on burger" and such.
  • It's not flexible enough and the custom fields becomes a limitation really quickly.
  • No ability to create phone/telephone orders from the backend (frontend isn't an option)

So, we've decided to start from scratch and built a plugin that:

  • Has a Print interface allowing us to perform functions such as pragmatically send print jobs to kitchen/impact printers. (We're using Raspberry Pi's as the Print Receiver for the printers)
  • Allows more complicated items to be created, such as attaching ingredients and components to the item for sale so the customer can customise it (e.g. Remove the pickle)
  • Multiple backend layouts to suit the restaurant, E.g. for iPad layout, POS friendly layout (touch screen), desktop layouts, etc.
  • Allows backend manual order/telephone order creation.
  • Allows backend order modifications.
  • SMS notification integration.
  • Android delivery app (Shows delivery information + map to the driver)
  • A whole bunch more that we're currently working on.

Here's a look at the backend as it looks currently (I've spliced 2 screenshots together). The entire backend is customisable, allowing us to create layouts suitable for specific business types (retail shop, MOTO business, cafe/restaurant, etc) enter image description here

So all in all, if you want to do it properly - I really recommend you create the functionality from scratch with your own custom plugin.

I'll also point out, none of the businesses we originally approached were interested in partnering with us at the start, until we came back and showed them the printer integration. Restaurants just want the order to pop-out their printer, and be on their way. None of them wanted to have to use any other method to capture the orders information.

Here's what comes out the docket printer at the restaurant:

enter image description here

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  • Is this all still running on ExpressionEngine?
    – Timo002
    Feb 4 '14 at 6:35
  • @Timo002 Yeap it is. However the backend (what end-users will use to post, submit content, update business stuff, etc) is built with CodeIgniter (CI) [mainly because customising the look/feel of EE's backend is too difficult and restrictive] and we've create a bridge between that and EE. If the site is commercially successful, we'll likely rip out EE and build out a complete CI powered site. We're just using parts of EE to save some time.
    – Michael P
    Feb 4 '14 at 7:27
  • Wow, Michael, that's impressive! Thanks so much for responding to my question. Would you ever consider licensing the use of your plugin, or is it only suitable to this particular client? I'm not a programmer, just a web designer, so developing a plugin is way beyond my capabilities. Feb 4 '14 at 9:03

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