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If you are a business that has traditionally been mostly brick and mortar, and you find yourself now in a position where you need to set up online ordering quickly, then let’s review the options.

The City of Boston put together an online resource guide that you may find helpful as well. This list is particularly relevant right now, March 2020, because some of these services are providing special pricing. Unfortunately, the services described here are also for the fulfillment of those orders, and most small businesses are not looking for a service that will also warehouse and ship their items.

That leaves us with one of the most flexible and cheapest methods to set up online ordering quickly, which is to create a Google form that people fill out. After they submit it, you get an email and the form is saved in a spreadsheet, and you can fulfill the order just as you would if someone called it in.

Getting started with Google Forms

If you don’t already have a Google account, you should create one. You do not need to use the email address if you don’t want, but the account itself comes with many useful apps, one of which is Forms.

In a browser, go to Google.com and log into your Google account. Click on the nine dots in the upper left, and choose Forms. If Forms does not appear in the drop down menu you can instead navigate to forms.google.com.

This opens the form editor. If you are new to forms, it will look like this, with a blank form and then some common templates. For our purposes we want to find the Order Form template, so we will click on the Template gallery and scroll until we see it. Then click on Order Form.

All aspects of this form can be modified, from the photo to the number and kinds of questions, to the order of them.

Form Settings

First we will look at the overall settings for this order form. Click on the cog wheel in the upper toolbar.

These are the default settings, but we would want to collect email addresses of people who are ordering, and we would not want to restrict who can order from us, or limit them to only one order. Change the check boxes.

Confirmation Message

In the Presentation section, you should change the confirmation message to something more personal to you.

Save and we will return to the form itself. This is where we will begin to edit the individual items in the form. The first is the header. Here you can change all of the text.

Body of the Form

Here is a list of the main types of questions that make up a form.

  • Short answer and paragraph have no control over content, only length.
  • Multiple Choice means choose one of the available choices.
  • Checkboxes you can choose one or more.
  • Drop down is a list where you pick one.
  • Linear scale is like a slider bar
  • The two grids allow you to specify the items in the rows and columns, and then whether multiple choices are allowed
  • Date and Time

Edit this form by deleting what you don’t need, using the tool bar on the right to add items, pictures or headings and move the items up and down using the grab bar on the left side when the item is highlighted.

This is the checkbox grid item. You enter the values for each of the rows you want, and the values for the columns. It draws the grid when it displays the form.

Adding Items to the Form

You might have many individual items to set up online ordering for. Each item may have a picture, or just a few grids with all of the size and color choices. It it entirely up to you!

Finishing Up

When you have finished the design, you can click on the eye symbol in the upper left to see what the form will look like to your customer. You can even fill this out. You will get the confirmation note. Now we will return to the form design to see how you will receive the results.

Viewing Responses

Click on Responses in the upper middle of the screen, and you will see the the filled out forms.

You can also see this information in spreadsheet form, which is how you will generally view it. Click on the green Google Sheets icon at the top right.

The first time you do this you will create a new spreadsheet, but subsequent times you will want this data appended to the end of your existing sheet.

You can use this information now to fill your orders.

The combination of Google Sheets and Google Forms can be an easy and flexible tool for setting up an online ordering system. If you have further questions, just let us know.

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