A Beginner’s Guide to Creating & Selling Restaurant Merch Online

When it comes to engaging diners, it’s not just about the meal anymore. From hip fashion collaborations to everyday hats and t-shirts, customers want to support the restaurant brands they love and integrate them into their lifestyle.

For those of you who are new to making and selling your own restaurant merch, don’t let the process intimidate you. We’ve outlined some easy steps to help you get started.

>>>RELATED: The Top 5 Things Restaurants Can (And Should!) Sell Online

Step 1: Create your branded restaurant merch

You don’t have to be a designer to produce quality restaurant merchandise. All you really need is a logo and a reliable printing partner. Online printers like Zazzle, Printful and Custom Ink allow you to upload your logo and choose from a variety of items to print or embroider on to. You can also look into services like Sticker Mule to source branded packaging for your merch.

On the subject of stickers—they're not the sort of thing that customers will typically purchase on their own, but they make great secondary items to bundle into merch packages. And if you find yourself with extra, don't hesitate to toss a few gratis into outgoing orders for other items—no one in the history of online shopping has ever complained about free stickers. Ever.

Step 2: Build your restaurant's online store

While selling your branded merch in your brick in mortar is a natural first step, you can extend your restaurant’s reach by selling your goods online. Most major website platforms, like SquareSpace, and Wix, provide integrated e-commerce, as do restaurant-specific sitebuilders like BentoBox and Sociavore.

That said, even though those platforms are pretty straightforward, they still require some finagling—and that may require more time than you can, well, finagle. A super low-touch option: create a standalone e-commerce page on a third-party platform like Shopify, Square, or BigCartel, and link out to it from your existing channels.

Pro-tip: Whatever option you end up using, do yourself a favor and make sure it can easily export reports with order information. You’ll thank yourself when it’s time to start shipping. 

Step 3: Promote your restaurant's online store

Once your store is set up, it’s time to tell the world you are open for business! First and foremost, make sure your restaurant’s online store is easy to find. We recommend having it anchored as an option on your website navigation bar. You can also use notifications on your homepage to alert and direct visitors to your new e-commerce options. 

If you have email subscribers, send out an announcement about your new online offerings. Schedule social media posts around the same time to let all your followers in on the big news, too. You can even include a promo code in all promotions to incentives first time purchases. If you’re selling something unique, especially around holiday times, think about reaching out to local or national publications to see if they will include your merch in a gift guide. 

Have some favorite online printing vendors or e-commerce platforms you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line: tips@backofhouse.io

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash