In one of our previous blog posts, we talked about how we helped a local restaurant establish an online presence. We successfully utilized Shopify as the base eCommerce platform and built an online ordering website for the restaurant. In this article, we will talk about how we improve sales and work with the restaurant to both convert original customers from physically calling in to order to use the online platform, as well as expanding the client base to increase conversion and profit.
Convert existing customers to shop online
When the online ordering website was ready to launch, we had to find ways to let people know about it. Our main approach was through social media. Pearl House restaurant had Facebook pages and Instagram pages for their two locations. We made eye-catching posts on all their social media platforms to let the customers know that there is a new way of ordering from the restaurant now.
It is important to be consistent in your social media posting. Don’t post too many at once, but also don’t just post one and leave it for a month. It is essential to have good quality photos or nice-looking posters/graphics to catch the attention of your followers on social media.
We also went with a more traditional approach by printing out posters and stick them in the restaurant. That way when people dine-in or picking up take-out orders, they can see the posters with a QR code linked to the online ordering website.
When we built the Shopify website for Pearl House Restaurant, we had pages dedicated to displaying the full menu. When viewing those pages, it is as if you were looking at the physical menu provided in-store. We printed the QR code to those pages and stick them on the dine-in tables. That way, customers can view the menu virtually with their phones. This is a popular option during the pandemic. This also became a great way for existing customers to know about the online ordering system.
Incentivize customers to ordering online
It is one thing to know about the website, it is another task to get people to start using it, especially if the existing customers are already used to order by phone. To encourage customers to switch to the online ordering website, the restaurant provides special discounts and coupon codes that can only be used on the website.
Getting new customers
Converting existing customers to shop online instead of calling in is important, it saves the staff from having to pick up calls from customers to order takeout, as well as resolving the issue of the phone line being busy and the customer had to keep calling during rush hours. But one of the goals for this project is to increase sales. Getting new customers is essential to achieve that goal.
One of the first things we did to expand the customer base is to post the coupon and promotions of the restaurant on different coupon websites. This approach is mostly free of charge and can expand your customer base.
Social media is always a great way to expand your business. But it is also a very competitive market. As mentioned above, having eye-catching photos or graphics will deliver your message more effectively. But if you have incentives to encourage your followers to share the post with other potential customers or to tag their friends and family. For example, you can include the coupon code or the currency promotion on the posting. This way your followers are more likely to share it with other people and thus increase your social media following.
Another way to utilize social media to promote your business is using paid advertising. The benefit of advertising on social media is the ads can be very focused on your target market. You can target a specific age range, gender, region and interests. Putting ads on social media can make sure your hard-earned money is used efficiently and effectively.
Another benefit of social media advertising is you can view the real-time analytics as the ad is getting viewed and adjust or fine-tune your target audience anytime. For example, you’ve targeted the age of 30 to 60. After running the ads for a few days you realize that the people that clicked on your ad max out at age 50. You can update the targeted age or update the post content depending on what your goal is.
For our target audience, because we are putting out ads on a local restaurant, we targeted the local population, with interests such as Chinese food, Asian cuisine and bubble tea. After the initial week of running the ads, we adjusted the age, expanded the region and added a few more interests. The result was pretty good. We gained new customers and increased sales.
Shopify out-of-the-box comes with integration with Google and Facebook, you can connect your Google and Facebook business account with your Shopify store. This way the analytics are more accurate and you get access to more data.
The downside of putting ads on social media is that you will not be able to reach the people that are not using social media. Therefore whether or not to utilize paid advertising on social media depends on your target audience.
Shopify provides a comprehensive coupon and discount system. When we first launch the website, we implemented a variety of different coupons for different menu items. Such as buy x get y 50% off, buy 2 items from a list of specific items and get x dollar off.
The results were not great. When there are many different coupons to choose from, the users often get confused. When a coupon targets specific items, it doesn’t do very well compared to more generic coupons. For example, giving 2 dollars off a specific flavour of bubble tea didn’t do as well as buy 2 drinks and get the second drink 50% off.
We quickly adjusted the strategy and only put out one or two coupons that are easier to use and easier to understand. The results were much better. It is also good to switch up the discount each month to incentivize customers from returning.
During the pandemic, online ordering platforms help restaurants stay in business. Shopify as an eCommerce platform is great in many different ways. However, one downside is that the Shopify app while works great with features such as sending a notification to customers when their orders are ready to pick up, lacks a few features for restaurants.
The first issue we ran into was the app notification did not have the option to customize the ringtone. It plays a “Cha-Ching” cash register sound once when an order comes in. During lunch or dinner rushes when everyone is busy making the orders, it is easy to miss the ringtone and don’t see the order until much later. Secondly, the Shopify app did not come with a “processed” button. This means that when a large amount of orders comes in, there is no easy way for the staff to identify which order has already been processed and is made in the kitchen already.
The solution we provided was a custom application that gets all the order information from the Shopify API. The app comes with an interface that displays the list of orders each with a processed button that the staff can click on. The list is colour-coded to whether it is processed or not and is much easier for the staff to know which order has not been processed.
We also customize the ringtone of the app so that when a new order comes in, it will ring, and if there are unprocessed orders, it will ring every 10 seconds to remind the staff to check the tablet for orders.
The pandemic has shifted the consumers’ shopping habits that might last for a very long time. Restaurants are one of the hardest-hit businesses due to the change. By having an online ordering platform, Pearl House Restaurant can streamline their take-out orders and make things easier for the users to order from them. This makes them stand out from their competitors who have yet to adapt to an online ordering system. Yes, there are third-party applications such as Ubereats or Door Dash that can be a partial solution, but the lack of customization, as well as the high fees they charge, having your own platform, is often a better solution.
Having an online ordering website is just a starting point. You will need to do some marketing and prompting to increase your revenue. Such as coupons, deals, social media postings and ads. Although it seems like quite a bit of work, it will most certainly pay off in the long run.
If you would like to know more about how we build the online ordering website for Pearl House, or if you would like to hear more about promoting your business online, feel free to contact us and we will be more than happy to help.