Independent online food ordering companies offer two solutions. One is a software service whereby restaurants purchase database and account management software from the company and manage the online ordering themselves. The other solution is a Net-based service whereby restaurants sign contracts with an online food ordering website that may handle orders from many restaurants in a regional or national area.
One difference between the systems is how the online menu is created and later updated. Managed services do this via phone or email, while unmanaged services require the customer to do it. Some websites use wizards to find the best-suited menu for the customer.

There are advantages for both the customer and for the restaurants who participate in online ordering. First, a customer can order at will when they have time to. Also, the customer is able to customize their order the way they like it without errors in communication between the customer and the person taking the order. In addition to customer advantages, the restaurant is able to take more orders with less staff. The restaurant does not need a waiter or hostess to be on the phone to take the order. The order can go straight to the kitchen.

Customers are not able to ask about quality of food or ask for any specialized diet foods. It is more difficult to ask for gluten free or allergy free foods with online ordering. Also, it is more possible for a customer to place an order, but never pick up the order which can lead to waste of food and possibly a loss of profits.

Today, many restaurants offer the technology to place an order with an app. Many restaurants will offer a special if the order is placed online. Subway offers a free cookie while Papa Johns offers specials only available on the app. Restaurants do this because they are able to reach a larger market with this technology. They are able to reach a target market that is tech friendly. Many people these days have a smart phone and that percentage continues to rise.