As businesses continue to persevere despite the continued threats caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its variants, the online space remains the primary point of interaction between brands and customers. Restaurants are no exception to this, as the enforced lockdowns and restrictions have relegated people to their homes. Their efforts, then, must continue to be focused on deliveries, pickups, and drive-thru services to experience more growth.
Going this route involves significant streamlining on the logistics end, of course. You need an effective order preparation system matched with a prompt and effective delivery service. Restaurants also need to invest in sturdy packaging and stainless steel food service carts to improve overall pickup and delivery systems.
Before restaurants even get to these, however, they need a strong online presence that maintains customer loyalty even over a year into COVID-19. It has become so much more important than before to invest in a digital storefront.
What Is a Digital Storefront?
The common misconception is that your digital storefront is just another term for your business website. While it is true that your digital storefront is a kind of website, it is not always the same, as not all business websites are made to facilitate sales. Digital storefronts, in particular, are meant to guide your customers specifically into making purchases.
Think of this first in terms of physical storefronts. What do people first notice about it when they walk by your store from outside? What do they learn about you at first glance? These factors determine if a customer wants to browse through items in your store or dine in your restaurant, or find somewhere else to go.
When a customer visits your digital storefront, they make similar decisions about it. Just a few seconds of browsing lets them know if they want to keep looking at your goods or walking away. That is why you need a digital storefront that makes a strong first impression.
How Do I Build a Strong Digital Storefront?
Even for restaurants, you want a storefront that connects with your customers from the get-go. Here are the best ways to get started in driving better sales into your business:
1. Know what everyone else is doing
To review what works and does not work with your market, visit the storefronts of your competitors. What methods are these restaurants using to capture consumers on their landing pages? How are customers responding?
Take a look at what products are on display on their pages. See what information they highlight about their products. If available, see what customers have said about their products and their website, too.
Feel free to take a look at other digital storefronts, even from businesses whose markets are different from yours. Examining these also gives insight into what trends brands are following and how you can respond in a unique and relatable way.
2. Keep it clean and navigable
You don’t want to confuse your customers when they visit your storefront. Design-wise, make sure that your colors, layout, and overall website appearance puts your content in the forefront. Don’t let design elements distract from what you are selling the visitor.
When customers browse through restaurant items on your website, one helpful feature is a sticky header. Visitors often look through your long list of meal items and deals, reading inclusions and item descriptions, before deciding to go back to the homepage or visit other pages to check out other menu items. Follow them through this journey by having a sticky header that allows them to easily move to different sections without having to scroll back up.
One other feature to combine with your sticky header is continuous scrolling, which encourages them to keep looking at your offerings with no interruptions. This minimizes waiting time and reduces the possibility of visitors changing their minds before adding items to their cart and making a purchase. Make the cart visible in the header, too, to let them easily check out when they are done.
3. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes
As you develop your digital storefront, always take time to view it from the perspective of a customer. If you were a first-time visitor to your page, would anything draw your attention? Would the appearance of the products and how they are laid out make you want to stay?
If you yourself, who are aware of the strengths of your offerings, are not pulled in by your storefront’s first impression, then don’t expect a curious customer to be. Before greenlighting anything, see you work from the lens of a consumer to determine if it is time to launch.