There’s never been a better time to launch a delivery-only or virtual restaurant. Without many overheads and a growing customer base, it’s definitely worth the investment.
But if you’ve never set one up before, it can be difficult to know where to start. Fortunately, WooCommerce, combined with the right choice of plugins, can do most of the work for you.
So, by the end of this article, you’ll know exactly how to set up a virtual restaurant. We’ll take you through each step in the most straightforward way possible. We’ll also save you time using the plugins WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering and WooCommerce Delivery Slots.
How a virtual restaurant works
A virtual restaurant (sometimes referred to as a ghost restaurant) is a restaurant that offers a delivery-only service.
Virtual restaurants only require a kitchen to prepare food and save a great deal on expenses in comparison to a traditional restaurant. Customers, on the other hand, get to enjoy eating great food in the comfort of their own home.
Using the solutions in this article. From the customer’s perspective, a virtual restaurant works a little like this:
- A customer will visit the virtual restaurant’s website and browse their food menu.
- They’ll then place their order using the virtual menu.
- Once directed to the checkout, the customer can book a delivery slot for their food.
Then, once the order is placed, the restaurant kitchen staff are immediately notified, and they can begin to prepare the order.
Once it’s complete, they can deliver the food directly to the customer or use a third-party food delivery service to get the food to the customer’s location.
Now you understand how it all works, you’re probably itching to get started on your culinary journey. So next we’ll walk you through a step-by-step guide to launching your very own virtual restaurant.
How to start a virtual restaurant
To set up your own virtual restaurant, you’ll need to:
- Set up your website using WordPress and WooCommerce.
- Create your food menu.
- Set up your delivery schedule.
That’s it. Below we’ll outline these steps in detail so you can start your virtual restaurant.
Step 1: Set up your website using WordPress and WooCommerce
The first thing you’ll need to do when creating your virtual restaurant is set up your website.
Once you have chosen your domain name, hosting (we recommend Kinsta), and store title. You can choose to install WordPress direct from your Kinsta account. For more detailed instructions for a WordPress installation, you can read the official installation instructions here.
Once you’ve set up WordPress, it’s time to install WooCommerce. This will allow you to take payments and is essential for setting up your virtual restaurant.
The WooCommerce set up wizard is incredibly easy to follow and should take you through each step without too much hassle. If you would like more detailed instructions, you can read WooCommerce’s store setup guide.
You haven’t got a restaurant if nobody can order any food, so the next step is to add menu items.
You’ll need to add each food item as a separate WooCommerce product. To do this, take the following steps:
- Go to Products > Add New from within the WordPress dashboard to add your food items.
Here, you can enter the following:
- Brief description
- Nutritional and allergen information
- Once you’ve filled out those fields, click Publish and your food item is ready.
If you have a food item with several customisation options (e.g., pizza), you’ll need to create a Variable Product.
This will allow your menu item to come with a drop-down menu listing a number of customisation options.
Step 3: Create your food order form
A comprehensive menu isn’t worth much without the ability for customers to order the food in a manageable way. Since a standard WooCommerce setup is not designed with food in mind, this is where you’ll need the help of a plugin.
Once you’ve purchased the WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering plugin, you’ll need to take the following steps:
- After purchase, upload the plugin to your WordPress website and activate it.
- Next, head over to WooCommerce > Settings > Products > Product Table from the WordPress dashboard and activate the plugin license.
- Once activated, navigate back to the WordPress dashboard and select WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering.
- Once within the plugin, you can begin to configure your food order form and choose which settings you’d like to offer your customers while placing their food order.
Next, you’ll need the help of a plugin to handle the delivery side of your new virtual restaurant.
Step 4: Set up your delivery schedule
In many ways, delivery is the most critical function of an online-only restaurant.
So, you’ll need to set up delivery slots for your delivery-only restaurant website so customers will know precisely when to expect their order. This task is made much easier with the help of the WooCommerce Delivery Slots plugin.
To get started, purchase WooCommerce Delivery Slots from the Iconic store: iconicwp.com/woocommerce-delivery-slots
Then you’ll need to upload the plugin, activate it and enter the license key.
Once done, you can begin to customise the delivery settings for your virtual restaurant. To start making those adjustments, you’ll need to take the following steps:
- Click WooCommerce > Delivery Slots > General Settings and configure the following settings.
- General Settings – Select where on the checkout page you’d like to display the delivery date and time using the Checkout Fields Position option.
- Date Settings – From the Date Settings tab, scroll down to the Date Settings section and select the checkboxes next to the Delivery Days to nominate which days you’re open for business.
- Fees – If you’d like to charge a delivery fee on your food orders, you can add them here. Here, you have the option to charge extra for same-day and next-day deliveries.
- Time Settings – Scroll down to the Time Slots section and set which times during the day you’re available to make deliveries. You can also specify when you’d like to close deliveries for a particular time slot.
- Once you’ve configured all of the above settings, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can get into the details of configuring the WooCommerce Delivery Slots plugin you can watch our detailed explainer video:
Start your virtual restaurant today
That’s it. Once you’ve taken the steps laid out above, you’ll be up and running with your very own virtual restaurant.
You’ll have the ability to sell your food directly to hungry customers. Allowing them to add all kinds of optional extras and customisations with a straightforward ordering form. Then they’ll be able to choose a delivery slot that suits them, and you in return.
All that’s left that do is cooking the food itself!
As a reminder, here are the plugin used within this guide:
- Initial setup with WooCommerce – Add e-commerce functionality to your WordPress site within minutes.
- WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering – Create an easy-to-understand online menu with a customised order form, making it simpler to order food and easier to make sales.
- WooCommerce Delivery Slots – Offer your customer the option for convenient delivery dates and times during the checkout process to reduce cart abandonment and increase customer satisfaction.