Why Should You Consider E-commerce for Your Restaurant?
When a customer sits down at your restaurant, you must give them sanitized dishes, a clean table, and a server, but you likely cannot fill all your tables due to social distancing. While this is standard practice for restaurants, all the steps listed above are negated entirely when using an online storefront. You’ll still need cooks and people to keep track of and hand out the orders, but the process becomes much faster in the long run. This leads to a more efficient business model as well as increased profit margins overall.
Furthermore, you’ll expand your potential audience by having an e-commerce website. Some people would rather have the food but without sitting at a table in a public place. Many potential customers are getting accustomed to using their devices to place orders and read up on what restaurants offer ahead of time. Online ordering and delivery has already grown 300% faster than dining in since 2014. If your restaurant can provide those digital options for customers, you can capitalize on this shift in the food industry and ultimately see more sales.
What Does E-commerce Look Like for a Restaurant?
When most people think of e-commerce, they think of an online store where there are numerous items that can be shipped right to their door. Restaurants must take a different approach due to the nature of the business.
One simple way to transition your restaurant to an e-commerce website is with online ordering. Not only does having an online ordering system give customers an easy way to browse your menu, it allows them to select what they want and have it ready in just a few taps. All you have to do is prepare it and they’ll pick it up at your doorstep. Some restaurants have added delivery in addition to online ordering, making their experience even more convenient. If you have the staff available to do so, we’d certainly recommend it.
Another way your restaurant can make good use of e-commerce is by having restaurant gift cards online. Local businesses don’t often sell gift cards, but it’s never too late to start. Now people can celebrate a loved one’s birthday or holiday by buying a gift card directly from your website.
The entire purpose of adding e-commerce to your restaurant’s business plan is to increase your sales by giving customers as many options as possible. Think of other ways you add to your online services: perhaps online catering or merchandise would be great additions for your brand!
What Do You Need for Your Restaurant’s E-commerce Website?
If you’re ready to get started with a website, then here is everything you’ll need. We’ve covered the setup process in the previous article in this series, so we won’t spend too much time on it.
A website platform and host –
WordPress, Weebly, Shopify, and SquareSpace are all good options for your website. Be sure to look into what each one offers and what your restaurant needs specifically. Many of these website builders will have templates that help with restaurant web design ideas. You’ll also need a website host, such as GoDaddy or Bluehost, to set up your online presence.
A domain name –
A domain name is the URL at the very top of the browser for each website. It should reflect your restaurant’s name. If it’s called, “Mike’s Barbecue”, then it should be “mikesbarbecue.com” or something similar.
A payment provider –
You’ll want to make sure that your customers have an easy and secure way to pay for your products. PayPal, Dwolla, and Stripe are all examples of payment providers.
An online ordering and/or delivery system –
Online ordering will likely be the most important addition to your restaurant’s website. You can go through third-party programs, like DoorDash or UberEats, but we recommend having a direct system built into your website.
How to Create Online Ordering for Your Restaurant
One of the key ingredients to any successful restaurant website is online ordering. While not every diner will have the means to provide catering or merch, online ordering is a must.
Online ordering is not a one-size fits all approach, though. There are different routes depending on your website platform, technical knowledge, and design goals. We’ll address these methods while giving you more resources you can use to get the job done.
If you use WordPress for your website, there are numerous plugins that let you easily add online ordering. One of the most popular ones is GloriaFood, which WordPress has an in-depth tutorial on here. Some of those plugins are free, but features like payment processing might be locked behind a premium fee. Be sure to weigh the cost options against using a separate payment provider for your website.
Other e-commerce platforms, like Shopify, have a much more involved process for creating online ordering, which will likely require someone with more web development experience. Either route you go in, the result is the same and you’ll end up with a menu ready to show your best products up front!
Many menu builders will have blocks where you can place the title of your dish, what comes on it, and some additional options if people want to customize it to their taste. Be sure to include everything on your menu with clear prices and options so everything is easy to read and understand. You’ll also want to ensure that your website has time slots so people can request when their order is ready for pickup or an additional option for delivery if your restaurant offers it.