Mon, October 18, 2021


Tips for SMEs to boost online food sales

A Chula marketing expert has offered SMEs three tips for boosting their food delivery businesses – know your strengths, know your customers, and use eye-catching food images.

Food delivery is a fast-growing business during Covid-19, when customers are often reluctant to leave their homes or offices. More customers naturally generate a higher number and variety of sellers.

With the online food delivery business becoming increasingly competitive, Asst Prof Kritinee Pongtanalert, Department of Marketing, Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy, Chulalongkorn University, shares some marketing techniques to increase sales for small food business owners who may not be familiar with online platforms.

“If you want to start an online restaurant, the most important thing is to determine what food you wish to sell and to whom. Every restaurant has a menu, but you have to know what you will sell and to which customers. Who will be happy to receive your products and services?”

Create a clear selling point

For all types of restaurants, big or small, promoting their strengths or selling points is essential. Business owners need to analyse the strengths of the food they sell, to better communicate the restaurant’s identity to customers. Selling points can be divided into three categories:

1. Selling taste

Restaurant owners must be able to answer the following questions: What taste was the restaurant famous for before the Covid-19 crisis? Which are the flagship dishes that are famous and memorable for customers?

2. Selling speed

Restaurants famous for their speed always prepare some food ahead, such as grilled pork and fried chicken. When customers order, they are ready to cook the food a little more and then pack it for immediate delivery. This is a strong point for customers who want fast food or are in a hurry. It’s even better yet if you can specify the delivery time in minutes.

3. Selling convenience

Some customers want to eat late at night when most restaurants are closed. Restaurants that can open during this period when choices are limited will stand out to customers. In addition, you may add other conveniences, such as free drinks or offering discounted drinks with food purchases. Offering value meals, or family sets also adds charm and ease of ordering.

Moreover, some stores also increase sales with fun activities to engage customers, such as ice cream shops that invite customers to add their own choice of toppings or shabu-shabu restaurants that offer to sell electric hotpots with the food.

What food are you selling? Who are your customers?

Shop owners must first decide “what to sell” and “whom to sell to” by clearly defining their target audience. Do not think that you will sell to everyone, because you can’t reach all groups of people. Make this mistake and you may not sell to anyone.

If we take the example of fine dining restaurants, they usually sell food with luxurious service. Making advanced reservations is necessary and customers often come in groups such as families. During the pandemic, a posh restaurant with elegant decor and impressive service is meaningless. These restaurants need to adapt to survive by turning to full online operation. The owners also have to design new menus to meet the needs of the whole family, while lowering prices. A limited number of sets should be offered daily to ensure efficient management of raw ingredients while maintaining the same standards of quality in food taste, reputation and care.

The above example shows that even with the new model, the usual target customers can still be reached. This also presents a new selling opportunity in the online market, where they can get to know new customers as well. A systematic analysis like this will benefit business owners in designing food sets based on customer behaviours and sizes. Those who want to know their customers better can compile data on best-selling items (single sets, couple sets, or party sets). This will provide the restaurateurs with customer insights.

How to make customers choose your restaurant?

Many customers buy food on a mobile application without choosing their restaurant in advance. This group of customers presents a golden opportunity for the restaurant to showcase itself with food images known as “finger-stopping shots”. This technique is powerful because many customers scroll through the screen until they stumble upon eye-catching food photos. Some restaurant owners trust their food quality and taste but underestimate the potential of marketing communication. There is no denying that in an online marketplace filled with hundreds of thousands of dishes, pictures that are worth a thousand powerful words have a powerful influence on purchase decisions.

1. Showcase flagship dishes instead of the restaurant name

If the customers do not specify the restaurant, they are always on the lookout for familiar restaurant names to reduce the risk of being disappointed by new restaurants. Promoting just one dish or a special product as the top-of-mind image is more effective than presenting a full menu of delicious dishes but that customers won’t remember. More importantly, this will help entrepreneurs to plan orders of raw ingredients that closely match actual sales. This is another tip for success in online business management.

2. Catchy name, memorable menu so customers know what you sell

Business owners should create memorable names and menus that appeal to customers, reflecting their speciality. This will attract customers’ attention and make it easy to recall and communicate what your restaurant sells. The name should not be too peculiar, or so far-fetched that customers cannot figure out what you sell and may reject your brand, hurting the reputation of the restaurant.

How to get repeat business

Displaying too many food images on the screen to reflect a wide variety of products may confuse customers with too many choices. Selective display of food items complemented by a solid pricing strategy will help customers make quicker decisions. Initially, you may offer a food combo in a set meal of complementing items, such as rice and soup with a free drink, or offer sets by the number of people, like personal sets, sets for two, family sets, or office sets.

The bundle sale technique is also effective. You can offer other menu items at a special price with an order of a regular meal set. This technique can help increase sales volumes: for example, if a customer buys a single dish, you can offer a drink for a little more. The important thing that will make customers come back again is their first impression– of the food taste, products that fit the descriptions, speedy service and charming touches like a thank-you card from the chef or a gift.

Published : August 06, 2021

By : The Nation