Top 8 Commerce Platforms All Restaurants Need
The global pandemic has challenged the restaurant industry in entirely new ways. Establishments that have pulled through the difficulties of the ongoing pandemic have also faced changing customer desires and increases in online sales. Things are shifting, and to keep up, restaurant owners need to evaluate the platforms they rely on to make sales and service possible.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the top commerce platforms you can use to enhance your restaurant’s operations, as well as how the right platforms can make a world of difference to your business’ success.
Restaurant owners and managers like yourself are used to incorporating a plethora of platforms into their daily business operations. These platforms include:
- Customer-based platforms – These types of commerce platforms have a direct impact on the customer experience.
- Internal-use platforms – These types of platforms have to do with the behind the scenes aspects of restaurant operations for a business owner. Just as a customer’s impression of a restaurant is incredibly important, so too is the efficiency with which the restaurant itself runs.
Utilizing both types of platforms can promote a successful business. That’s because the symbiotic nature of restaurants and their customers—the simple fact that neither would exist without the other—means that every issue tackled behind the scenes in the restaurant and every tap that happens on a customer’s phone affects the other side of the equation (whether it be positively or negatively). This means that all types of platforms have an interconnectedness and can be mutually beneficial for both you and your customers.
So, let’s take a look at the top 8 types of commerce platforms your restaurant needs.
#1 Social Commerce
When we refer to the impact of social media on a restaurant’s sales and image, we might consider that “social commerce.” Social commerce is a type of inbound marketing tool, and new developments continue to make it better for users on both sides.
Through web searches and digital word of mouth, potential customers are more likely than ever to experience your restaurant in the digital sphere before they do in person. That’s why it’s important that the platforms you use as a business owner are visually pleasing, user-friendly, and geared toward your customers. By analyzing the demographics of your area, you can create a digital atmosphere that caters to your clientele (while still showcasing your restaurant’s unique style).
Taking advantage of a social media platform’s analytics tools can also be very valuable to understand what’s working among your customers and what could use improvement.
A variety of features on social media can make this commerce platform worthwhile, including the use of:
- Photos and videos
- Location and map services
#2 Online Ordering
Arguably the biggest change to the restaurant industry since the pandemic began is the astonishing increase of online orders and payment processing. From March 2020 to March 2021, digital orders for restaurants increased by over 120% compared to the year before.
Having a digital commerce platform is essential in order for a restaurant to stay competitive. Due to health and safety concerns, customers are more likely than ever before to use an online platform to place an order with your restaurant ahead of time, and either pick it up themselves or have it delivered directly to their doorstep. To ensure your restaurant can serve as many customers as possible, it’s imperative to offer a digital commerce platform.
#3 Ecommerce Platform
The business transactions of a restaurant don’t have to be limited to food and drink orders (whether they’re made inside your restaurant or from the comfort of your diner’s couch). Ecommerce platforms can also be used to sell promotional merchandise, such as apparel and drinkware. By taking advantage of an ecommerce solution, you’ll also be able to make money from an online store like other online retail companies.
More specifically, many restaurants find an additional revenue stream by selling:
- Tote bags
- Glasses and tumblers
- Tickets to events, such as classes or tastings
Catering options and gift cards shouldn’t be overlooked either when creating an online store. One survey found that customers spend an average of nearly $40 more than the total value of their gift card.
#4 Payment Software
Even though online orders have increased substantially, more and more people are beginning to return to their favorite restaurants in person. However, these customers may still prefer the efficiency and ease of credit card payments. This is where front-of-house payment readers come into play.
Payment readers make it easy for customers to pay their tab digitally, without compromising their security. Some setups also offer printing capabilities, which can make the option for tipping servers more appealing for diners.
Two types of payment platforms that might be considered are:
- Chip reader kiosks
- Systems designed to take “touch” payments, like Apple Pay or Android Pay
#5 Labor Management
Keeping track of employees’ schedules, tips, and overtime is key to making sure your restaurant runs smoothly. An effective labor management platform can help you manage your payroll services and may even offer human resources assistance.
Plus, labor management platforms often store all of this information in the cloud, making it easy and fast to update data, access information, and maintain secure files.
#6 Inventory Management
At the foundation of your restaurant’s success is your ability to make sure you have everything you need to serve your customers. Inadequate planning or information storage can lead to a lack of ingredients, miscalculated profit margins, and other unexpected issues.
With an inventory management platform, you can easily track:
- Information about COGS
- Inventory and stock lists
- Seasonally rotating menus
#7 Cloud-Based POS Technology
In addition to digital payment software, cloud-based restaurant POS systems that offer digital orders, communication, and payment through the customer’s smartphone can promote faster service and a better overall experience for both customer and staff.
For example, when customers are able to place their own orders through modern restaurant technology, there’s no risk of miscommunication between customer and server. This means orders are more accurate more often.
Some platforms even allow customers to instant message their servers to address issues immediately, instead of having to flag them down for that missing silverware or side of ranch. Better customer satisfaction in these areas can lead to increases in:
- Sales – When customers don’t have to wait on their server to request another round of drinks or take a look at the dessert menu, they’re more likely to order these items right away.
- Server tips – Less miscommunication between server and customer means customers are more likely to receive exactly what they ordered. This type of top-notch service makes customers more inclined to leave a higher tip.
#7 Loyalty Programs
Loyalty programs can increase the likelihood that customers, especially new ones, return to the restaurant (and return often). With the right platform, first-party information can be stored safely and discounts can be sent to diners automatically.
Loyalty programs might include:
- Birthday discounts
- Percent off after X dollars spent
- Promotions on new menu items
- Refer a friend coupons
- Free drink or appetizer with purchase
How Does The Technology Itself Work?
Certain platforms, such as cloud-based POS systems and payment platforms, often utilize specialized hardware to operate properly. This may include a POS station, ordering tablets, and mobile payment terminals.
E-commerce platforms often come in one of two categories: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). This means that these platforms can either be internally used, in-house software or a platform hosted through a site on the web (though the latter is more common for smaller businesses).
Regardless of function, platforms that store data in the cloud can be especially beneficial and appealing to restaurants, especially restaurants with multiple locations or non-traditional formulas, like ghost kitchens.
How Can These Platforms Be Consolidated?
Some platforms can easily be managed under an umbrella platform. For example, loyalty program data is often held by third-party delivery companies, like UberEats or DoorDash, making this a combination of discount programs and an online ordering platform.
The same can be said for e-commerce and social commerce platforms, as one often leads customers to the other. For instance, you may discover a restaurant’s social media account through a tagged post. From this social media account, you’ll likely be able to follow a link to their e-commerce platform to purchase merchandise (or to their online ordering platform to place an order).
Choosing the right all-encompassing platform might be the difference between focusing on dozens of issues across multiple avenues (a recipe for disorganization and stress) or focusing on a handful of elements neatly contained within a single platform.
GoTab Handles All Commerce Platforms With Ease
The ability to manage all aspects of restaurant operations seamlessly is invaluable to owners and managers like yourself. With so many facets of commerce changing every day, it’s important to stay on top of them to ensure quality customer service.
At GoTab, we work with our partners, including delivery fulfillment companies, to manage all levels of your restaurant’s operations. From labor and inventory management to online ordering and merchandise sales, we have the experience and the software to make running your restaurant easy, efficient, and stress-free. Plus, there’s no expensive equipment to purchase and no mobile app requirement.
Visit GoTab today to request a demo and learn how working with us is the first step to a better restaurant.
- NPD Group. U.S. Restaurant Carry-Out and Delivery Digital Orders Soar During the Pandemic. https://www.npd.com/news/press-releases/2021/u-s-restaurant-carry-out-and-delivery-digital-orders-soar-during-the-pandemic-2/
- Influencer Marketing Hub. 11 Social Commerce Platform Examples That Prove Social Is Key. https://influencermarketinghub.com/social-commerce-platform/
- Hospitality Technology. Consumers Overspend the Value of their Gift Cards Significantly Within the Restaurant Industry. https://hospitalitytech.com/consumers-overspend-value-their-gift-cards-significantly-within-restaurant-industry
- Adobe Experience Cloud. E-Commerce Platforms. https://business.adobe.com/glossary/ecommerce-platforms.html