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6 Ways Restaurants Can Use an Online Store
Posted Jun 2, 2017 by Jesse Ness, Ecwid Team

6 Ways Restaurants Can Earn More With an Online Store

In 2016, about 1.6 billion people around the globe purchased goods online. That’s quite the audience, if we do say so.

What might be surprising about this fact is that all kinds of businesses are tapping into the online retail market–restaurants included. Online stores aren’t just for fashion brands, home decor, etc.; they present a sales opportunity for any type of company looking to diversify their sales channels.

In this post, we’ll look specifically at how restaurants can build and launch an online store that helps bring in more revenue, grows brand awareness, and opens new doors for connecting with customers year-round.

Food Delivery

Now, more than ever, customers want restaurants to cater (quite literally) to their every whim. That’s why we’re seeing more food delivery startups like GrubHub and Eat24. They want to be able to get food at the click of a button–and that’s where an online store can come in handy.

In recent years, online food ordering has increased about 300% faster than dine-in traffic. What’s more: Online ordering in the U.S. is steadily outpacing orders placed over the phone, according to data from NPD Group.

As a result, some restaurants are already putting an online store to work for their businesses.

Cafe Moxo, for example, uses their online store to help customers order food online for delivery. This speeds up the efficiency for customers needing to-go orders, as the cafe can prepare these delivery requests ahead of time. The complete menu is available and clickable, and customized orders can be submitted and paid for right within the online store (or upon delivery.)

Cafe Moxo, food online delivery

Cafe Moxo, food online delivery

The takeaway is this: Adding an online store that empowers diners to place orders online for delivery is an opportunity for increased revenue.

Gift Cards

Gift cards are a beautiful thing. Each year, customers spend more than $100 billion on gift cards, and on average, 72% of shoppers will spend more than the value of their cards. They’re a great gift-giving option, and often times, they lead to increased sales. Plus, it’s up-front revenue. When gift cards sell but don’t get used, your restaurant makes money for doing…nothing.

Online stores allow you to sell gift cards to customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week to customers around the world. For example: Maybe an out-of-state aunt wants to send her niece a gift card to her favorite lunch spot. She buys a gift card online, emails it to her, and is able to say, “Hey, go get lunch on me today!” with just a few clicks.

Woodstock Pizza offers gift cards through its online store in various increments.

Woodstock's gift cards

Woodstock‘s gift cards

Gift cards make sense for any and all customers who want to give the gift of good food–365 days a year.

Booking Tables

Booking restaurant tables online is no new trend. On Valentine’s Day 2017, more than two million diners booked through OpenTable, an online platform for restaurant reservations.

If your restaurant fills up quickly and reservations are often sought out by your customers, adding an online store with a “Book a Table” feature might be a good idea. This allows you and your guests to better plan for busy hours and guarantees business (and reservations.)

The good news is you don’t have to build a tool for this from scratch. Site builders like DudaOne that work with Ecwid have ready-to-go integrations with tools like OpenTable, which allow your customers to book a reservation from a computer or mobile device. Here’s what this looks like in action over on the Fisherman’s Restaurant’s website:

Fisherman’s Restaurant, the reservation form

Fisherman’s Restaurant, the reservation form

If you want more guaranteed people in seats (and happier customers who are guaranteed a spot–no one likes waiting around) adding an online store with this feature should be high on your business to-do list.

Booking Events/Catering Planning

If you’re looking to increase your restaurant selling opportunities into the event catering side, adding a booking option for large-scale orders on your online store can speed up the processes and make this part of your business more manageable and accessible.

With a landing page that shares your policies for catering and that spells out your services and pricing tiers, you can help your customers quickly place orders and share the important information you need to know about their events.

Panda Express, for example, lets customers book catering orders via their online store with a four-step process (location, time, order, payment.)

Panda Express's online ordering

Panda Express’s online ordering

By adding an online portal for booking large-scale catering orders, you can get on the path to selling more food and growing a new facet of your restaurant business that helps increase your bottom line.

Selling Brand Merch

Is your restaurant a destination or beloved brand? If so, your customers probably want some merch that allows them to tell others they’ve visited and eaten there. By selling brand merch online for your restaurant, you can increase brand awareness and profit off a high-margin product. Plus, brand merch makes for a great gift that can be mailed to customers around the world–without them even having to stop in-store to get it.

One example of brand merch sold by a restaurant can be seen from Terrapin Restaurant that sells t-shirts with slogans.

Terrapin Restaurant

Terrapin Restaurant‘s online store

The online retail opportunities aren’t limited to clothing and accessories, though. If your restaurant is known for custom food and beverages that are non-perishable (think jams, teas, etc.), those are items you can sell online, too. Gregs Coffee is a cafe that also offers its own coffee blends online.

Gregs Coffee online shop

Gregs Coffee‘s online shop

The possibilities are endless when it comes to the products you can add and sell online.

Learn more: Rules and Regulations for Selling Food Online

Order Pickup

Allowing your restaurant customers to pick up orders in store can help you move more food for customers on the go. This is an ideal option for customers who want to skip the in-store experience and eat elsewhere.

Here’s how this looks using the Ecwid pickup feature:

Order Pickup in Ecwid

The other benefit of this: You don’t have to increase your restaurant’s physical space to accommodate the boost in orders. Take-out orders placed online mean you can move more food without running out of tables. Win-win!

Other Ways Restaurants Can Use an Online Store

Now that you have some concrete ideas on how your restaurant can use an online store, let’s go over some of the added benefits that launching this new part of your business can produce positive results.

  • It allows customers around the country to make a purchase without having to visit in person. Your restaurant keeps regular business hours, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could make money even when the lights are off? With an online store that’s open 24/7/365, you create an opportunity to make sales to customers around the globe whenever and from wherever they are.
  • eCommerce marketing keeps the conversation going. When you sell products online, you have the chance to collect email addresses from those customers and keep the conversation going–that means sharing news about new products, special events, and more. It’s very difficult to do this within a physical restaurant space with so much going on–so an online store creates a less noisy environment in which you can keep in touch with your customers.
  • It creates an online sales funnel. Even when restaurant business is slow, you can count on your online sales funnel to keep the money rolling into your business. People typically eat meals at certain times of day, but online sales can happen anytime, day or night. With a strategy that keeps customers moving through the customer journey, you can make money even while you sleep.
  • There’s no additional space needed. Because an online store is completely virtual, it lets the business expand without having to purchase more expensive physical space. Sure, you might have some startup costs associated with opening your online store (graphic design, hosting fees, etc.) but those are extremely minimal in most cases. This is a no-overhead business opportunity.

Launch Your Restaurant’s Online Store

Let’s do a quick recap of all the ways your restaurant can use an online store to make more money and increase brand awareness.

  1. Food delivery
  2. Gift cards
  3. Booking tables
  4. Catering
  5. Selling branded products
  6. Order pickup

Really, these are just the tip of the iceberg–there’s so much you can do with just a few clicks. It only takes five minutes to create an online store…what are you waiting for? Create yours right now.

About the author
Jesse is the Marketing Manager at Ecwid and has been in e-commerce and internet marketing since 2006. He has experience with PPC, SEO, conversion optimization and loves to work with entrepreneurs to make their dreams a reality.