Let’s Talk About the Restaurant Industry and How an E-Commerce Website Increases Business
If you own (or manage) a restaurant and are not offering takeout online, you could be leaving serious money on the table.
When the COVID pandemic hit in 2020, an estimated 90,000 U.S. restaurants closed their doors either temporarily or permanently as a result of the spreading virus. The unfortunate victims of these closures were mostly independent restaurants without an online takeout presence to keep operations running. On the flip side, some restaurants that did offer online takeout during the pandemic actually saw a 10-30% increase in business and have enjoyed huge returns since. Online takeout is not the only benefit to an e-commerce website for the restaurant industry, there are many ways to convert a static website presence into a thriving e-commerce revenue center.
How Could an E-Commerce Website Grow a Restaurant?
Here are specific ways an e-commerce platform can benefit the restaurant industry.
As mentioned above, offering online takeout has become a standard expectation for a restaurant, even after the pandemic. An online takeout website allows a restaurant to grow since takeout is not limited to a restaurant’s square footage and number of guests that it can serve. Online ordering for pickup or delivery can significantly boost sales.
One of our clients is a success story in this arena. They had contracted with us to design and develop a custom e-commerce online takeout website that just so happened to be launched in February of 2020, just before the pandemic hit. In March of 2020, restaurants across the United States could no longer serve customers in dining rooms. Online takeout became the only way for this restaurant to sustain any business at all. And it worked – the restaurant refocused their efforts from in-room diners to optimizing their newly launched online takeout site and actually saw a 20% revenue increase for that line of business during the pandemic. Even post-pandemic, the restaurant continues to see 5-10% increases year-over-year from the online takeout website.
Popular takeout apps like DoorDash and UberEats are great options for restaurants that don’t have an online presence but the fees to consumers and to restaurants alike can be cost-prohibitive. Believe it or not, it may be more cost effective to create a custom online takeout site specific to your restaurant. The best part? You keep all of the data from your customers and you can leverage that data for marketing promotions in the future. Takeout apps keep that data and promote other restaurants to YOUR customers. Contact us below to get your free quote on a custom restaurant online takeout website.
There are a lot of great online reservations systems out there specifically for restaurants but they often are too complicated or costly for smaller restaurants. We can design a custom online reservations system specific to your needs that is easy to use and allows customers to book a table in advance. This not only provides convenience for customers but also helps in managing restaurant operations. One of the biggest advantages of a custom online reservation system is again, keeping and reusing the data that a customer uses to book online. Why not leverage the information that your website collects to promote to your audience?
Digital loyalty programs have been around for quite some time but many of the loyalty programs in the wild do not integrate with your website or are not customizable to your business. We can design and develop loyalty programs that work with your website and most importantly, keep your customers coming back. We prefer the ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ method which allows you to define triggers (ex. a customer purchases a certain dinner more than once and you automatically email or text the customer to reorder that dinner to keep you at the top of their mind). The possibilities are endless but all of this can be accomplished with a custom e-commerce website.
Digital Gift Cards
Most restaurants offer gift cards, even if they are still hand-written. Why not make the process automated by offering online gift cards for your restaurant? The best part about this is that any gift cards purchased online can be redeemed towards takeout that is purchased online. Plus if you make it convenient to order gift cards, you will see a large increase in gift card purchases because customers can purchase them from anywhere at anytime and receive them quickly via email. Again, you collect the data collected online which can be used to promote to your audience in the future.
Interactive menus are becoming a necessity for restaurants. The biggest advantage to implementing interactive digital menus is the opportunity to upsell menu items or gift cards. These types of menus can also provide suggestions on wine and beer pairings, side options, desserts or delivery service. With the rise in online menus that are accessed through a QR code or on an iPad on the table, you no longer have to worry about lengthy design updates and printing costs for paper menus. The menu items are updated online once and are immediate. This is especially lucrative when you need to temporarily increase prices because of increased demand – you can do so immediately and easily as often as you’d like.
Specific menu items that are listed online as products gives you the flexibility to use geo-targeted advertisements that targets users with a certain radius of your restaurant. These ads also give you the ability to show relevant products based on certain keywords that someone may be searching for.
Social Media Integration
Share daily specials, behind-the-scenes looks and showcase user-generated content. The best part about having an online takeout website is that you can prompt a fan or follower to purchase online easily and conveniently just by including a link.
Offer engaging content like blogs about food, recipes or the story behind your restaurant. All of our custom e-commerce websites include a powerful blog that makes it easy to update, publish and share. Blog posts can even include upsell opportunities and subscribe options to gather email addresses for future marketing promotions.
Cross Promotions with Local Businesses
Yes, you can even cross promote with other businesses much easier with an e-commerce website. Partner with local businesses for joint promotions. For example, a nearby theater could hand out a 25% discount coupon with a promotional code that can be used on your online takeout website. Is your restaurant near a weed shop? Everyone knows that the two business complement each other well so why not advertise a promotion code discount on the bottom of every weed shop purchase receipt? While the patrons are waiting in line to collect their goodies at the weed shop, they can place a takeout order online from their cell phone and take advantage of that promotion code. The options are endless and are only limited to your creativity.
Offer Subscription Meals
Similar to a subscription box, offer weekly or monthly meal plans where users get meals delivered to them at a fixed price. This is especially effective as a gift option. Everyone knows someone who can’t resist the delicious fried chicken dinner with all the carb-loaded sides and gets it as often as possible. Why not make it possible to gift this coma-induced dinner to your friend or family member? Subscriptions are recurring income and who doesn’t love that?
Upselling and Cross-Selling
When a customer is perusing the online takeout menu, there are hundreds of opportunities to recommend add-ons or other dishes that complement their selection.
Just by updating and maintaining your website regularly, you are actually increasing the visibility of your website. Successful search engine optimization requires many variables but keeping the website current and updated counts towards making sure that your business ranks higher organically. By regularly updating blog content, product listings, interactive menus and more, your website has a better chance of ranking higher than competitors.
If your restaurant has any type of credibility or expertise in a particular area – a famous dish, a popular annual event or a secret sauce – whatever it is, the opportunity exists to host virtual events like cooking classes to learn how to make that famous dish at home or chef’s specials to engage with customers online and encourage them to make purchases or reservations on your website.
Let us Help you Grow Your Restaurant Online
Let us help you get your restaurant online. Have a website with your menus on it? That’s a great start but the reality is that static websites with no easy ability to convert means that you may be missing out on revenue opportunities never considered before. Convenience is the name of the game in today’s digital world and independent restaurants need to catch up to the big guys if they want to compete. Get in touch with us below and we would be happy to discuss your needs to get your restaurant online.
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