Facebook rolls out a new “Order Food” option in its main navigation

Facebook is now making it easier for you to order food from your favorite restaurants directly within its app, without having to navigate away to a delivery service or restaurant’s own app or website. In the main Facebook navigation on both web and mobile, a new option called “Order Food” is rolling out to select users.

Indicated by a colorful hamburger icon on desktop and a blue-and-white hamburger icon on mobile, the option lets Facebook users place food pickup and delivery orders from restaurants using Delivery.com or Slice.

Above: “Order Food” on mobile

Above: “Order Food” on desktop 

The entire process, from ordering to checkout, takes place on Facebook when you use this menu option.

The feature is an expansion on a previously announced deal with online ordering businesses, Delivery.com and Slice, which Facebook detailed back in October. At that time, the company said that it would allow Facebook users to place orders with supported restaurants from their own Facebook Pages through a “Start Order” button.

The “Order Food” feature in the main navigation works similarly, but makes it more convenient as it aggregates all the supported restaurants together on one page. Here, you’ll find a list of restaurants, which include a featured photo, price range (indicated by dollar signs), star ratings, and type of cuisine. It will also display whether delivery, pickup or both are available.

You can then click “Start Order” to begin the ordering process – much like you could before, if ordering directly from the restaurant’s Facebook Page.

According to one user who successfully used the service last night on mobile to order a calzone, when you tap through to being your order, you’re able to browse the menu, add items to your cart, edit your order, add a suggested tip, then pay within Facebook, in a mobile experience powered by either Delivery.com or Slice.

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After payment, a confirmation screen appears letting you now that you’ll also receive an email to confirm your order and a time frame when the order is expected to arrive or be ready for pickup.

Perhaps because the feature is still rolling out, its availability has been a little flaky to start. For example, the option itself has disappeared and reappeared for some; other times, it says there aren’t places that can deliver to you right now; and, in my own tests, the button “Order Food” showed up on my iPhone, but then didn’t load a page properly when tapping through.

For Facebook users, the feature is one of convenience – they don’t have to leave Facebook to place orders, or visit individual Facebook Pages to see if online ordering is available. But for Facebook, it’s another example of how the network is aiming to duplicate the functionality of other apps installed on users’ devices, and rolling out other features that keep users inside its walls.

Over the past several months, Facebook has introduced a number of these sorts of features, including weather, a networking section called “discover people,” a travel section called “city guides,” government info via “town hall,” an online jobs board, fundraisers, instant games, and more.

Reached for comment, Facebook confirmed that the “Order Food” functionality is related to the October news of Slice and Delivery.com food ordering functionality via restaurants’ Facebook Pages, but didn’t offer any details as to when the new button in Facebook’s navigation began appearing for U.S. users.

We understand from sources familiar with product, however, that the functionality is the same as what was unveiled in October, but Facebook is now testing a new entry point for ordering food through its main navigation. Because this is a test, not all Facebook users may see the option at this time.

(Image credits: @fbjag; @mattlynley)