Last year saw a major rise in the number of people ordering food online. Whether for weekly groceries or meals from a favorite restaurant, almost all customers adapted to online and mobile app-based platforms. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic’s “stay-at-home” mandates, online ordering largely saved the food and beverage service industry, as well as created a new trend in restaurant success. For all food industry entrepreneurs, curbside pickup and new delivery options are here to stay.
If you’re in the service industry or a restaurant owner, there are many new outlets for ongoing success. Here, we will look at some of the top tips for entrepreneurs in the food business, and how you can use online platforms for customer engagement and satisfaction, as well as keep your food business thriving.
Online Platforms for Customer Engagement
Even in an era of “social distancing,” there are many options for entrepreneurs to keep their food business thriving. Most of the trends require an online presence, as well as accounts with one or more food delivery mobile apps. For this approach, you should consider investing in product photography. This would allow a reputable professional photographer to create a portfolio of menu items specifically for use on websites, social media, and online ordering platforms. For example, high-quality images of new products taken using artificial light or a white background add a professional flair to your presentation, thus demonstrating that your business is up and running, even in an era of regular takeout and delivery. A professional photographer can present your restaurant’s entrees and deserts as appetizing product images. In general, a professional presentation increases online sales.
This not only attracts new customers but can intrigue your loyal customer base as well. By using your new product photography on your restaurant website (and for various delivery app accounts), you’ll have the tools to make an online ordering option for your personalized online store.
Curbside Pickup, Takeout and Delivery Options
Although online ordering platforms were introduced prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was last year’s “shelter-in-place” mandates that saw these become the major outlet for restaurant service. Since in-house dining wasn’t an option for many months, mobile apps such as GrubHub, ChowNow, UberEats, and Doordash all attracted major restaurants in joining their pickup and delivery services. Simply put, customers missed their favorite foods, and having an online ordering platform for restaurants helped meet that customer demand.
The practice of each online ordering platform is relatively universal, no matter which platform you use. A food business joins the platform itself, then uploads their company’s information along with the needed details for a menu product page. With that restaurant’s full menu now represented on the ordering platform, customers can either use a website or mobile app for ordering meals. When their food is ready, the customer can either visit the restaurant location for curbside pickup or have the food delivered to their home. With the restaurant retaining customer data and credit card information, organizing pickup or delivery options is made easier than ever. Although these platforms’ target audience was initially a younger generation more accustomed to mobile apps and online shopping, the pandemic made this process of food delivery popular with an expanded demographic. In essence, pickup and delivery helped the entire food industry survive the lengthy period of “stay-at-home” regulations throughout last year.
As a great way of retaining a loyal customer base, online ordering also allows restaurants to set up discounts, loyalty programs, various purchase decisions, and real-time customer service. Coupled with professional product photography, integration of one or more accounts with online ordering apps are two surefire ways to expand your food business and ensure customer satisfaction.