Operations – Marketing Online

By Daniel Thor, Bellissimo Foods

In today’s competitive market, finding and keeping new customers could be the difference between success and closing your doors.  For those struggling to keep up with the technological age, the challenge is even greater.  More and more pizzerias and fast casual restaurants are turning to the web to grab any customers left on the table.  There are several ways to transition your business into an online platform, and we will give you the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The easiest and cheapest way of creating and online presence is to create a social media page for your business.  Facebook and Twitter are still the most common social media engine alternatives, and both give you the opportunity to connect with your customers, supply information about your restaurant, hours, new offerings, etc.  As a disadvantage they do not allow you much personalization in page layout or content, i.e. you are confined to the layout they provide.

The most expensive and time-consuming way to be seen online is to hire a company to create a website for you.  a custom website can cost between roughly $500 and up, depending on what you want to include, and is the best way to incorporate your restaurant theme to the online world.  This option, as with the social media outlet, will allow you to communicate with customers, allow offerings, etc., but will not bring customers to you.  You will be in charge of forging the relationship and marketing this new tool.

The third, most popular way, to go online is to use a 3rd party menu service.  The most popular of these is GrubHub or Seamless.  Both offer free website design, and menu listings, but the restaurant gets charged upwards of 10% on top of any order placed through their site.  The benefit of suing a 3rd party service is that the software to upload your menu is fairly user-friendly, and they have their own marketing budget to try and attract more customers for you.  That being said, according to Cornell Hospitality report, nearly half [47 percent] of the consumers on multiple restaurant sites said they clicked to the restaurant’s website to order food, once they found a restaurant they liked.”  Although there are some benefits of ease of use, there is some slight risk of cannibalizing your own business by being listed on the same sites as your competitors.

There are an amazing number of resources for those interested in creating, or upgrading their online presence.  No matter how you choose to market your business on the web, please remember these simple rules:

  • Always make sure to market your online capabilities in your store.  No one will use it if they don’t know about it.
  • Customers using online means of ordering do so for the convenience.  Make delivery of pickup easy as well.  You won’t win any votes if customers have to wait in line with everyone else at pickup.
  • Give your online customers a reason to come back.  Give them a coupon that is only redeemable through the online ordering.
  • Make whatever you do simple and easy to use, and always keep online information updated.

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