What can I use to create a Customer Order Database system? (Affordable and Easy)

gksa

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We are a small business (a catering company that has pivoted to delivering meals to homes due to restrictions on gathering). Up to now, we have been tracking customer orders in an Excel spreadsheet, but it has become increasingly complex and tough to manage. Mostly because we are continually expanding the product selection, and because the order volume has grown to the point that I can no longer input all orders myself.

To clarify: we are not operating in the same way as a take-away food business (we do not offer on-demand delivery) but instead we compile all orders into a daily total, produce it, and then deliver it in the afternoon.

The solution I need to find would have the following features:
  • store a list of customer contact and delivery address data
  • store a product offering list
  • store a database of actual orders placed, linking to customer data and product data, and allocating these ordered items to a specific delivery date (most orders consist of multiple delivery dates)
  • store a list of which orders have been allocated to which drivers
  • Bonus points if I can manage to find a way to import the orders from our (somewhat clunky) online store into the database.
Based on this data, I need to produce the following outputs:
  • order confirmations for the customers
  • daily preparation list for the kitchen
  • Excel/CSV output of orders and delivery locations for uploading to the delivery routing planner that we use
  • daily packing list for each driver (total products)
  • daily delivery list for each driver (broken down per order)
  • financial info for the bookkeeper
These are the usability features I need:
  • Accessible by multiple users for order capturing (with security permissions so they can’t break anything)
  • Accessible from multiple locations, so probably stored online.
  • Accessible on multiple platforms (PC & Mac, bonus points for smartphones)
I would need to set up the entire system myself. I have fairly extensive knowledge of Excel, as well as loading menu data into point of sale systems, and I can usually pick up new systems fairly quickly, provided that its use is thoroughly documented. I do not have the luxury of spending a lot of time learning coding (I last did that in high school) and am in need of a free, or nearly free, solution.

I have done online searches to find the best option, but it is difficult to discern which of the multitude of solutions would be the best for this specific case, and I cannot afford a false start. I was thinking MS Access originally, but it looks like it would fail the user-access criteria I have - it seems to be PC only, and remote access seems somewhere between difficult and impossible to achieve.

I know this is a big ask, but any help in pointing me in the right direction would be massively appreciated.
 
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Thor

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If you have a budget, I can build this for you.

Alternatively, look at TastyIgniter
 
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TribbleZA

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A lot of people who think Excel is not for data - don't know about Power Query.

But if you have a 365 account = with Access as one of the programs - you can have your database in a few hours. And you can create apps in Power Apps and Forms for entering your data using mobile devices.
 

Mystic Twilight

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A lot of people who think Excel is not for data - don't know about Power Query.

But if you have a 365 account = with Access as one of the programs - you can have your database in a few hours. And you can create apps in Power Apps and Forms for entering your data using mobile devices.
Access as a database in a multi user environment is a terrible idea imo.
 

gksa

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Thank you for the suggestions so far, everyone.

Well, I've still been using Office 2010 (I know, I know) but most, if not all in our office are already using 365, so that seems a viable option. So if I understand this correctly, Access doesn't run on Mac, but I could have those users input orders by using a Power Apps tie-in? What's the difficulty level to achieve that? I don't doubt that I can manage it eventually, but in practical terms, I would have to manage it while still handling my normal workload...

Or would it be better to recreate the spreadsheet in Google Sheets and use Google Forms for orders capturing? The drawback with that would be that the customer details lookup would probably not be possible, so the contact details would have to captured every time?
 

Johnatan56

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I'd probably go along the route of building a good woo commerce site for online orders, let the customer input it themselves.

The question here is budget and size of what you're doing.
 

Thor

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This can work perfectly so in google form the first time you capture the user's details after that Google knows the user and as such no need to capture again it will just populate the spreadsheet with the client's previous details and the new order.

Or would it be better to recreate the spreadsheet in Google Sheets and use Google Forms for orders capturing? The drawback with that would be that the customer details lookup would probably not be possible, so the contact details would have to captured every time?
 

rustypup

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Access as a database in a multi user environment is a terrible idea imo.
Absolutely agreed. It does not support multi-user access, so this would need to be catered for in application, and it's a TERRIBLE solution for most use cases.
 

TribbleZA

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Access as a database in a multi user environment is a terrible idea imo.
I have built many - and not had a problem. When we got to hundreds of employees - it was cheaper to do Access front end and SQL backend though. But you could use Azure SQL and use Power Apps as the front end these days.
 

TribbleZA

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Absolutely agreed. It does not support multi-user access, so this would need to be catered for in application, and it's a TERRIBLE solution for most use cases.
That depends on how many users we are talking about. I used to love Access but there are much better options. But OP is wanting fast. Nothing faster than Access and it can be moved to SQL
 

Mystic Twilight

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I have built many - and not had a problem. When we got to hundreds of employees - it was cheaper to do Access front end and SQL backend though. But you could use Azure SQL and use Power Apps as the front end these days.
Well if it worked for you then continue, last I checked just the table level locking was bad enough without getting into the other undesirable quirks, and using access as a frontend interface to a backend sql engine sounds completely bizarre, not sure what use case has that as an optimal approach to other possible solutions.
 
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