1. Wait ! Are you really not online yet
In the post pandemic world, it’s rare to have a business model that does not include online sales. Here are some easy steps to get your restaurant taking online orders, fast!
With other restaurants in your area taking online orders, allowing their customers to easily browse their menus and place their orders, now is the time to add this sales avenue. Most online ordering solutions provide customers with a history of their orders, as well as allow them to place orders using facebook or instagram stores. The following are important areas to think about to ensure that your online store runs efficiently for you, your staff, and customers.
2. Keep your menu simple & expressive
Complex online menus can be confusing and frustrating for customers to navigate, especially those with complex modifier and sub modifier options. A limited selection of items, a couple of 3 course meal choices and a family pack that represent your top selling items is a great approach.
Pictures, pictures and pictures; look at pictures that your customers have posted on Yelp or Instagram and use them (with appropriate permission, if needed) – pictures are a great way to give your customer an idea of what to expect.
Include relevant details regarding ingredients, allergies and any other information that will help customers make informed decisions.
3. Set expectations
Make sure your online system allows you to manage your pick up times, delivery areas, delivery and service fees. With different types of products and customers from different places there is no one size fit for all orders. Getting these details right is important to setting reasonable expectations for customers and making it manageable for you.
Here are a few recommendations:
a) Providing various fulfillment options is one of the most important steps. While eCommerce and Online ordering have traditionally operated on shipping only, that has all changed in 2020. Most effective options may be Curbside Pickup, Instore Pickup or even have your own crew do the local delivery. This adds options that work well in today’s environment.
b) Defining various shipping rules are very important, as well. It is a known fact that customers prefer to have free shipping options. While it may not be cost effective to provide free shipping for every single order, custom shipping rules come in handy in those situations. Free Shipping based on a certain threshold, Custom Shipping Rules based on Weight and specific products are very commonly used to balance business and customer satisfaction. Local businesses should be able to set up a nominal fee for local delivery based on delivery zones and rules.
c) When an order is placed it is important to keep the customer appraised of the progress. When a customer shops in store they already have the products in hand and customers are anxious to get what they bought as soon as possible. Disclosing delivery windows and lead fulfillment times can help to set these expectations realistically. Email Alerts or notification also improve the communication regarding the order.
4. Engage your customer
Many email marketing solutions have social media engagement tools including those that allow your customers and potential customers to get to know you across all channels. Have cross promotions between your website and your social channels, tied in with a targeted ad campaign to always stay in front of your customers. They love your brand, they want to support you during the downturn – give them opportunities to do that by purchasing from you.
5. Open a gift shop
Convert your restaurant space into a gift shop – sell wines from your wine list at a discounted price – package food in serving dishes like Staub, for an upscale heat and serve option – maybe a take out meal combined with fun reusable products like those from Aplat. Offer meal subscription plans so your customers never have to worry about what to cook up for Wednesday night dinner, they just swing by and pick it up every week. Other interesting products like Repour or glasses for wine drinkers, or kitchen tools from GIR for the in home chef. Fun ways to add revenue and add excitement for your customers.
6. Streamline Order Processing
With orders coming in online, via the phone and walkin orders, it is important to streamline the business. From the time you accept the order, keep track of inventory all the way to fulfillment and delivery are key steps in streamlining order processing. Having the proper tools at each stage is important.
a) A system which can track the inventory from the time an order is placed or processed is important. Most small and medium size businesses use one of their locations with a shared inventory pool for the fulfillment.
b) Solutions such as Orderup app allow you to manage the fulfillment lifecycle, to see all your orders, notify customers of the status and process even without investing in a Point of Sale or using a browser. Orderup can print delivery receipts and even send notifications to customers as you manage your order.
c) When you offer curbside delivery options, tools should be automated to support the option of payment at pickup. Orderup offers payment acceptance using handheld devices with contactless checkout and print or email receipt
d) Last, but not least, look at automating using available tools to ensure that orders are processed smoothly and efficiently. Whether it is automatically printing your picklist of orders on your kitchen printer or automatically creating shipping labels and using shipstation, it is important to understand where efficiencies can be improved and automate wherever possible.
Steps taken now, will help your restaurant success during these challenging times and prosper in the future, as customers will demand these new approaches to ordering and restaurant services beyond the near term situation. Embrace the changes in customer expectations to improve and success for years to come.
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