June 24, 2020
Why restaurants should offer gift cards, merchandise and more online.
As a restaurant operator, you may be used to dealing with slim margins, often due to circumstances that are outside of your control: food costs fluctuate, labor is unpredictable, and rent goes up every year — not to mention that COVID-19 has had a profound impact across the entire industry and economy. More than ever, ecommerce is a high-margin way to grow your bottom line outside of the four walls of your restaurant.
Inside your restaurant, you sell dishes and drinks for people to enjoy at their table. Online, you can sell that as well as goods and services (more on that below) for people to enjoy even if they can’t make it into the restaurant. And you don’t need to increase your costs to increase your revenue, making ecommerce a win-win for operators and guests alike.
Ecommerce is not the daunting prospect it used to be. In recent years, it’s become easier and more affordable for any business to take credit card payments online securely. Our payment processor and ones like it make delivering direct deposits into your bank account fast, easy, and safe (and we have our support team ready should you need it).
There are plenty of opportunities for sales online. Some avenues to consider include:
Online Ordering: An online ordering system through your website allows for guests to easily place an order — especially as 70% of diners prefer to order directly from the restaurant versus a third-party. Even more, 77% of diners visit a restaurant website before choosing to dine with them. A direct online ordering platform, such as Bento Ordering, eliminates high-commission fees that others charge — an important aspect to consider in an industry with razor-thin margins.
Restaurant Gift Cards: Great year-round, though our data shows that sales spike in particular just before holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Gift cards are also an easy way for guests to support the restaurants they love.
Restaurant Merchandise: T-shirts, hats, glassware, cookbooks and more. Consider selling provisions such as meal kits for guests to cook or assemble at home, nonperishable pantry items like sauces, preserves, dry goods, spice rubs, drink mixes — and if your local laws allow it — beer, wine and alcohol.
Event Tickets For Restaurants: With event tickets, your restaurant can create, promote and sell tickets through your website. Get creative with it. Offer a virtual cooking class, wine tasting and much more.
Online Catering: An online catering store is an easy way for your guests to enjoy your offerings off-site for a special event or just for a large family gathering. Inquiry forms are a simple way to communicate with potential customers. You can use your website to take deposits online, making the logistical legwork easy on your customers, while also ensuring that you get paid quickly.
Your site should be designed in a way that makes it easy for both customers and search engines to understand. Part of what that means is creating organized, clearly-labeled pages (such as “Shop” or “Events”) that makes it easy to find your ecommerce offerings. In addition, you can and should cross-promote your offerings across all of your marketing channels:
Restaurant's Website - Keeping your website up-to-date with the latest important information about your restaurant is key to increasing sales. Create pop-up alerts on your homepage that promote and link to your online ordering pages, catering or merchandise store, gift cards and more.
Restaurant Email Marketing - Email marketing is essential in today’s restaurant landscape. Easily build your email lists via your website with a simple email capture form. Entice loyal customers with newsletters that offer promo codes, new happenings and more. Always drive them back to your website to purchase food online or to buy a gift card for a friend.
Social Media Marketing for Restaurants - Platforms like Instagram and Facebook are great channels for restaurant marketing. Grow your followers by posting engaging content about your restaurant and your offerings. Great food photography is a sure-fire way to build an audience and make followers want to order directly from you. Be sure to always drive them back to your website to place an order.
Ecommerce for restaurants is a huge opportunity for owners/operators, like you, to build your loyal fanbase and to increase sales. For more information and tips, be sure to get in touch with your account manager to learn more or sign up for a free demo on how over 5,000 restaurants worldwide trust BentoBox for their online goals.
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