Technology for Restaurants
Savvy use of technology can help restaurant owners streamline operations, find customers, and even cut costs. The below articles detail different types of available restaurant technology and tips for restaurateurs when evaluating different platforms. We always recommend obtaining a free trial or two before settling on a technology.
Building a Website & Taking Online Orders
An online website serves as a digital front door for your business and can even take orders from customers looking to pick-up, get delivery, or dine-in.
Managing Online Reviews & Social Media
If your restaurant is open, it's probably generating online buzz through social media and review sites. Be in control of the narrative by creating, monitoring, and updating your profiles on key websites.
Reservations? Email marketing? Blog and press coverage? Digital marketing tools can drive customers to your restaurant and turn one-off visits into repeat customers.
Ordering the right amount of supplies and ingredients is difficult, but technology exists to help with inventory management, sourcing ingredients, etc etc
Preparing for E-Commerce Sales
A Marketing Strategy: Your product/service is great, but it won't sell itself. Before launching an online store, make a plan as to how you'll reach potential customers and define what your sales pitch will be. Contact the Pace SBDC and one of our business advisors can help with your marketing strategy.
Delivery Options: How will customers receive the product or service? Whether your shipping an item with a postal carrier, providing your own, in-house delivery, or asking customers to pick-up items themselves, you'll need a delivery channel that's clearly communicated to your customers. You'll also need adequate packing and shipping techniques to ensure your product arrives in-tact.
A Business Plan: Don't just open a shop and hope for the best! Have a plan. Contact the Pace University SBDC and we'll connect you with a dedicated business advisor who can help. Your business plan should be written down and clearly detail all aspects of your business. Visit our business planning resource page.
Choosing An E-Commerce Platform
Evaluate Your Business Needs: Do you need orders to be "pending" until you accept them? Looking for something that does online and in-person sales? Make sure the e-commerce platform you choose has all the features you need.
Understand All Pricing and Fees: Are you charged a monthly fee? Does the platform take a commission on each sale? Do you have to pay to list more products? Don't sign-up for anything until you deeply understand the pricing structure. Contact the platform's sales team for clarity if something isn't making sense to you.
Know Your Audience: Where are people already shopping for your product? How can you reach them? Is there an online marketplace that aligns with your niche? Look for the platform that would be most attractive to your customers.
Investigate Alternative/Digital Payment Options: You want your customer's shopping experience to be fast and easy. Consider accepting alternate payment methods, like allowing customers to pay using Paypal, Google Pay, or Apple Pay. Investigate the different payment methods customers will be able to use on any given platform and streamline the check-out process of your store.
Online Marketplace vs. Dedicated Store: Some businesses sell on their own websites while others choose to use existing online marketplaces, like Amazon, Depop, or Etsy. The benefit of using a marketplace is that they have an existing audience that's ready to buy. The downsides to using a marketplace are they usually charge higher commissions, give you less control, and can sometimes lead to more sales than you can handle.
Don't Be Swayed By Introductory Offers: Think long-term when choosing a platform. There are many services that offer low or no-commission introductory offers, but these initial perks will wear off.
Empire State Digital is a partnership between New York State, the NYSBDC network, and select e-commerce platforms that provides additional tools to businesses engaging in e-commerce and, through meetings with our certified business advisors and online webinars, gives businesses specialized set-up and maintenance guidance when they choose to use one of the following e-commerce platforms:
Ritual One is a commission-free online restaurant ordering platform (users pay only a monthly fee). Ritual integrates with social media sites and POS systems to provide a seamless online ordering experience.
Etsy is a marketplace that connects creative entrepreneurs with tens of millions of buyers around the world. Through Empire State Digital, Etsy is offering:
Free Listing Credits for New Users
Educational Content on Starting A Successful Online Business
Shopify is an all-in-one platform with everything entrepreneurs need to launch and grow their business online & with physical point of sale terminals. With Empire State Digital, new users get:
Free Tap & Chip Reader for new POS retailers
$500 in Shopify app store credits for new users
With Square you can easily create an online store or ordering page and immediately begin selling your products or services online. Square is offering NYS businesses:
A Free Website with Square Online
Free Processing of Up To $1,000 in Credit Card Transactions for the First 180 Days After Sign-up
Clearbanc provides sales-based financing to existing e-commerce businesses looking to expand their marketing & increase sales. With Empire State Digital, Clearbanc is offering:
Free Business Valuation and Growth Tracking
Discounted Rates on Funding
Educational Content on Financial Health
Popular E-Commerce Platforms
Hosting Your Own Website: Incorporating an online store into your website allows customers to seamlessly transition from browsing your offerings to making a purchase. Whichever content management system your website uses, adding an e-commerce extension directly to your site is often relatively simple. The cost of extensions vary, but generally companies charge a monthly fee or take a portion of sales. If you already have a website, see what extensions are recommended by your content management system or website host. Some of the most popular extensions are:
SquareSpace is a simple web hosting service with e-commerce options.
Wix is a drag & drop web hosting and e-commerce platform.
E-Commerce Marketplaces: An e-commerce marketplace is a compilation of stores selling products/services of all kinds. Using this approach can increase your businesses’ visibility and allow you to access the marketplace’s existing customer pool. A key difference between this approach and hosting your own website is most marketplaces take a larger percentage of sales or charge higher monthly fees because of their existing customer base. Some of the most popular e-commerce marketplaces are:
Specialized E-Commerce Marketplaces: Specialized marketplaces cater to specific products and types of businesses. A few are listed below, but researching your own products may reveal one that fits your business. Some of the most popular specialized marketplaces are:
Facebook Shops allows users to sell items on their Facebook & Instagram pages. Pinterest has a similar feature. If you have a social media following this is a great option.
Contact one of our business advisors who are familiar with e-commerce and can guide you through the process of setting up and maintaining a successful e-commerce store no matter what platform or software your business is using.