eCommerce for Restaurants: Everything You Need to Know

Understanding eCommerce isn’t the labyrinth you might expect. It may sound intimidating, but it’s simple to get started with the right know-how. eCommerce for restaurants isn’t just online ordering for restaurants, but a business model that helps sell goods and services over the internet.

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Shopping outlets, bookstores, gaming suppliers, among others, have been doing this for years. When it comes to food services takeout may come to mind too, but many restaurants are starting to see the value in online transactions and services.

If you’re looking to get started in the world of eCommerce, then here’s everything you need to consider.

eCommerce opportunities post-COVID 19

Often, when we think of takeaways, we don’t imagine those services as a “proper restaurant”. However, the normalisation of ordering from eat-in venues has been fast-tracked due to the lockdowns imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Any restaurant that wanted to thrive (or even survive), during the pandemic has seen the importance of adapting their business model to include multi-channel opportunities. Or, put simply, giving your customers more ways to access your goods and service is a huge benefit, especially when people aren’t allowed through your doors. But it has also normalised ordering food from sit-in restaurants and opened new opportunities.

In fact, the food delivery business grew by £3.7 billion in 2020 to reach £11.4 billion. It’s an excellent time to be opening your doors online, as well as offline.

How to increase your restaurant sales online

Build an engaging website

Establishing your brand with an engaging, informative, and intelligent website can be an excellent way to generate interest, awareness, and additional revenue. There are other benefits too, such as having total control of how your business is represented and the opportunity to expand your services beyond food with an online store. Branded aprons, utensils, cups, do-it-yourself kits, bottled speciality-sauces… there’s a myriad of fun and interesting merchandise you could branch out into, based on your business.

You can help generate a buzz thanks to the ability to host speciality dishes, deals and temporary menus on your site. It also enables you to take online ordering into your own hands, whether that’s delivery or collection. Allowing people to feel comfortable and safe while accessing your food has proven to be essential in recent years, and is an expectation that is here to stay.

Stay active on social media

Social media was already on the rise, but it’s become an exceptional and established way to remain in contact with your customer base and community. Social media has many benefits, and there’s so many ways to utilise it:

Show off new merchandise, dishes, or events at your restaurant using posts or story features.

Link back to your restaurants website to increase traffic. You can include these in stories, post descriptions, and your business pages bio.

Launch new menus and create hype, encouraging people to order or eat-in.

Get involved with local community drives. Catered a local event recently? Shout about it and use it as a chance to show off some of your work.

Feature any discounts or incentives with an easy call to action – you could even have exclusive deals for those following you.

Highlighting some of your patrons each month who tag you in a photo while dining at your restaurant can create a sense of community involvement.

Keep people talking about your restaurant and engage with your local community and customers. Having more online channels can be an excellent way to promote growth, especially for small businesses.

Play with digital promotions

Digital promotions are a fantastic way to keep people interested in your online presence and bring in business. There are several ways to do it—you could host a small competition for merchandise or vouchers, do a flash offer in your story to try out a new dish at a discounted price, or provide seasonal offers. This can help make your different online channels – from email to socials – interesting and a space to watch.

Most importantly, play with different ideas and think about what your goals are. It doesn’t have to be a discount code alone, how can you get customers to interact with you? What do they want? As an example, some pet-friendly restaurants could have a dog-eats-free event, and give away free ‘puppocinos’ or dog treats

Experiment with what works best for you and your customers.

Make the most of your email marketing

Intelligent, targeted email marketing can be a fantastic way to reach out to specific customers and drive sales, but it’s easy to end up on a spam list and harder to get customers to open your mail. There’s a list of best practices, but the key is to deliver relevant, enticing information, deals, and advertisements that are relevant to your customers.

By using proper marketing software, you can maintain mailing lists, discover insights to determine email marketing open rates, the best times to send emails, and uncover what works for your business.

As with any channel, giving your customer’s reason to be there is key, but you can’t lose sight of your own objectives either.

Prioritise omnichannel experiences

eCommerce doesn’t begin and end with a personal website, it’s an omni-channel experience. Just as flyers aren’t the only way to market your restaurant.

It’s important to make use of every commerce channel available to you, and establish them so they work together. Your socials can help expand your email list, your website could bring people in, your mailing list could promote your socials. Each element can feed into the other, it’s a fluid, connected experience across all channels.

There’s a difference between having these channels, and making them work together. Loyalty programmes, online events with in-store rewards, downloadable coupons, digital orders, all these can work together in diverse ways. It’s also a way to offer convenience, and since COVID-19, safety to customers.

How Square can help your eCommerce restaurant

eCommerce can feel overwhelming, with all the opportunities and information to juggle, sometimes it’s difficult to make the most out of every opportunity. Square offers a range of solutions that empower your business to make the most out of eCommerce opportunities. Take advantage of powerful insights, helpful marketing tools, website builders, and integrated POS systems that synchronise effortlessly. Square offers the tools to help you succeed on your own terms.