Yes, they're the most wonderful time of the year, but for restaurants the holidays are also the busiest time, by far. The truism is durable enough that it’s expected to hold even in the warped year that is 2020, with holiday sales predicted to reach $189 billion—that’s up 33% from 2019. While COVID-19 has changed the dynamics of indoor dining and hosting private parties, there are still plenty of ways to drive revenue through e-commerce this November and December.
To get started, you have to set up e-commerce for your restaurant. Having an online store makes it easy for customers to shop from home or on their phones. Once you’ve got your online store set up, here are some of the top ways to maximize your profits this winter season.
Consumers have already shown their desire to rep their favorite restaurants. Consider selling restaurant merch, like branded hats, T-shirts, mugs and the like. Your super fans will love it. Or go a step further and sell specialty food and beverage items. They can be festive, like champagne and caviar, or goods that are simply unique to your operation. If folks know you as the brunch spot with the best pancakes in the city, think about doing a special packaging of your pancake mix for the holidays.
While people may not be gathering in large groups this year, they still want a big holiday dinner. In 2019, 43% of diners were more likely to incorporate catering into their celebratory meals, and that number has the potential to grow. Along with an online store for merch and specialty goods, put together an online catering store and menu. This could be with your restaurant’s famous pecan pie or some fan-favorite sides that are easy for guests to take home. Publicize your holiday eats on your website, over email, and in your storefront. Just be sure to set a reasonable cut-off day for receiving orders so you can plan ahead for your staffing and food costs.
Got a customer upset about missing that catering deadline? Well, point them to your meal kits. Last year, BentoBox reported a 150% increase in restaurants selling DIY food and beverage kits. Today, restaurants all over the world are expanding on this trend. Whether you’re a franchise like Auntie Anne’s or a seasonal mom and pop spot like McLoons Lobster Shack, selling kits for takeaway, delivery and shipping will be another way for guests to take your restaurant home with them.
Gift cards have always been a staple for restaurant holiday sales—and there’s no reason to stop offering them now. In 2019, the National Restaurant Association found that 72% of consumers wanted a restaurant gift card as a holiday gift. Who are you to argue? Offer both physical and digital gift cards for sale. Everyone likes a physical stocking-stuffer but digital gift cards make it easier for customers to gift for friends and relatives who don’t live nearby.
Something like 60% of Americans will be doing their shopping locally this holiday season. Offering online ordering for your gifts makes it easy for local guests to get last-minute gifts. Think about it: With all your specialty goods, kits, and merch you’ll be selling, being able to have these items available for delivery will help your customers in a pinch and goose your year-end profits.