From XU Magazine, 
Issue 24

Building a Sustainable Online Business Amidst COVID-19

Shifting to online has been imperative for restaurants to keep business going. Whether you’re starting an online store or growing an existing one, there are numerous ways to maximize your online presence.
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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COVID-19 brought on many challenges to businesses worldwide, with the F&B sector among the hardest hit. To adapt to the new business environment and continue serving their community, F&B establishments completely shifted their sales strategy to online.

For Daryl Saw, CEO of Singapore’s Santa Fe Tex-Mex Grill, expanding their delivery operations and setting up an online ordering channel was a strategic way to keep business going. “As soon as we decided to venture into online and delivery, I went to my POS system and enabled online ordering with one click,” Saw recalled.

With social distancing drives and government restrictions temporarily suspending dine-in services, online ordering has become the main revenue-generating channel for restaurants to stay profitable.

The future of dine-in remains unclear. Setting up and maintaining a sustainable online ordering operation may be the best way to ensure business continuity.

Fully-Integrated Solution

Many leading POS systems offer out-of-the-box solutions that can get your online store up and running in as quick as 48 hours. An integrated online channel is built to seamlessly work with other modules and add-ons to streamline operations.

Modules like Home Delivery Management and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) go hand-in-hand in boosting your online operations. A Delivery Manager gives you LIVE insights into your entire online ordering cycle as it happens. A robust CRM helps you maintain the quality of your deliveries and also boosts customer engagement.

Manuel Wazen, Marketing Director of UAE-based enterprise JJ Chicken, mentions the importance of utilizing customer data as the bulk of their orders are processed online. “Data is now very valuable because it allows us to target customers and keep them within reach,” Wazen shares.

What’s more, leading point-of-sales are integrated with cloud accounting software like Xero. This means that your online store’s sales data is seamlessly synced between the applications. As a cloud-based software, Xero allows you to access your business finances anytime. By automatically syncing the daily sales data, you can track your cash flow in real time, giving you an easier and more accurate overview of your online store’s performance while ensuring  data integrity.

Redefined Customer Experience

A shift to online ordering amidst COVID-19 also requires a shift in customer experience. Online ordering provides a safer alternative to dine-in and take-away through the use of online payments.

Online payments require zero physical contact and reduce the risk of contagion for both your customers and drivers. With this, you can fulfill orders through contactless delivery. Your drivers can simply place the order on the doorstep and stay at a reasonable distance when your customer receives the order.

Open New Revenue Channels with Social Media

Social media channels, such as Facebook and Instagram, are some of the most heavily-visited platforms. This makes them great avenues to build a strong online presence for your restaurant. By effectively leveraging social media, you open new revenue channels for your business.

”We heavily invest in social media to offer discounts and encourage customers to order directly from our website. Whenever you visit JJ Chicken’s Instagram page, you’ll see the link in our bio which sends you straight to our ordering page,” Wazen explains.

Aside from adding the link of your digital store to your Instagram and Facebook profiles, you can also take advantage of Facebook Messenger’s Automated Responses. By enabling it and adding your online ordering link, any customer that messages your profile will receive an auto-reply that’ll direct them to your online store.

Adopting this strategy makes it super convenient for prospects to go from simply browsing your profile to placing orders within a few clicks.

Optimize your Digital Communication Strategy

An effective digital communication strategy will transform your strong online store to a sustainable one by consistently attracting potential and existing customers. The key is to experiment as you may need to try different strategies until you find the one that works best for your restaurant.

One simple strategy is to display your latest deals and discounts on your online ordering page. This encourages customers to order more than what they initially intended.

On your social media platforms, the optimal way to attract visitors is to consistently post engaging content about your business through boosted ads, promotions, or customer reviews.

Build a Loyal Fanbase

It’s no secret that the most powerful method to market your business is through word-of-mouth. In the era of virtual dining, it’s vital to maintain relationships with your customers to keep them coming back.

Simple gestures such as a personal message to thank them for ordering goes a long way in strengthening engagement and experience. You can encourage them to share their experience and tag your restaurant on social media. “A recommendation is worth ten times more than an advertisement. Every post, share, like, and comment counts,” Saw reveals.

The shift to online ordering

Whether you’re completely new to the game or are optimizing your existing online strategy, the shift might leave you pleasantly surprised. Saw recalls how Santa Fe’s shift to online helped them achieve new records. “As a 35-seater restaurant, we would have been content with a full house of dine-in guests for Mother’s Day. But this year, we managed to serve more than a hundred online orders.”

The shift to online may have been a necessary move for your restaurant to adapt. But by taking advantage of the many tech capabilities to build a sustainable online operation, you’ll be able to sustain the shift and grow your business to new heights.

Why leave it there?

Find out more about Sapaad cloud-based restaurant POS & delivery management system

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