Have you ever wanted to run a restaurant, but lacked the know-how and experience? Well, you can be the boss of your own restaurant with the right guidance! Thanks to digital marketing companies like FlyWheel, which help businesses grow through online marketing, running a restaurant has never been easier. Especially since they also help build and operate affiliate stores for brands like Shopify, which have an ecommerce element to them.

The Rise of Online Restaurant Bookings And the Effect On Traditional Restaurants

It’s no secret that the hospitality industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. From the luxury restaurants to the fast food chains, the world’s eateries have gone quiet. For decades, restaurants have opened with much fanfare, only to see footfall descend to near-zero as businesses closed down and people found home cooking more appealing. In fact, according to the World Food Publishing Federation, the global food service market shrank by 5% in 2020.

The spread of the pandemic provided an opportunity for digital marketing agencies like FlyWheel to step in and help restaurants move towards online booking. Not only does it provide a safer option for customers, it also gives owners a way to earn money online during a time of lockdown. It’s the perfect storm for the rise of online restaurant bookings.

The popularity of online restaurant booking has exploded. In fact, according to HubSpot Blogs research, 45% of consumers would like to make restaurant reservations online versus 23% who would like to call or email a restaurant to make a booking. While the majority of consumers are booking restaurants online, 34% of respondents still want to call or email a restaurant to make a booking — especially those in food-centered cities or tourist destinations.

How to Open an Online Restaurant Booking Using Shopify

If you’re the owner of a restaurant or coffee shop, you’re probably already dreaming of ways to bring in more business. Perhaps you’ve even considered moving to a smaller location or offering special deals to attract more customers. Maybe you’ve even thought about generating extra revenue streams by selling more food or creating a special menu item.

Well, you can open an online restaurant booking channel on your Shopify store, and you’ll be able to generate more revenue and create special offers and deals to drive traffic to your site.

Features of an Online Restaurant Booking Channel

The features of an online restaurant booking channel are incredibly handy for chefs and restaurateurs. Thanks to features like Auto-Redeem, which will automatically charge a credit card on file when a customer makes a booking, you won’t have to keep track of money-handling yourself. Auto-Redeem is one of the more advanced features in the Shopify app, but it’s still fairly straightforward to use.

Other features that come standard with an online restaurant booking channel include Google Analytics and Hootsuite Integration. The former will allow you to track the performance of your website and the effectiveness of your campaigns while the latter will give you the ability to spread the word about your restaurant via social media.

If you’re curious as to what else comes with an online restaurant booking channel, you can refer to the features list here.

Getting Started With The Shopify App

To get started with an online restaurant booking channel on your Shopify store, you’ll first need to download and install the Shopify app. You can find the app on the App Store or on Google Play if you have Android devices.

Once you’ve installed the app, navigate to Menus in the top right corner of the screen. From here, you can click Create Menu to get started.

On the next screen, you can enter a name for your menu and select the type of cuisine you serve at your restaurant. Once you’ve done that, you’ll reach the final screen where you can choose the items you want to include on your menu.

Adding Items To Your Restaurant Menu

To add an item to your restaurant menu, simply click + Add to Menu to get started. You’ll then be presented with a popup window where you can enter the name of the item and select a price (inclusive or exclusive of tax).

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be taken to a product detail page for that item, where you can find out more about the product, its nutritional information, and whether or not it’s gluten free. If you’re creating a vegan menu, be sure to search for vegan-friendly products.

If you’re happy with what you see, click Continue to go back to the menu creation screen.

You can add more items to your menu by clicking + Add to Menu or you can find existing items you can add by clicking Options at the bottom of the screen and then selecting Choose what to add from the dropdown menu.

You can use product combinations to create themed menus. For example, if you’re a sweet tooth, you could combine brownie bites with chocolate chip cookies to create a dessert menu item. Or, if you’re a fan of pizza, you could combine pepperoni with sausage to create a new pizza-related menu item that you can then name and sell.

Setting Up Your Online Restaurant Booking Channel

Once you’ve added a few items to your menu, you’ll reach a screen where you can set up your online restaurant booking channel. You can do this by clicking Settings at the bottom of the page. Here, you can choose your pricing, select a coupon code if you’re offering discounts, and determine the number of days you’re open on the week.

You can find more information about the various settings and their effects in the documentation that comes with the app or by searching the web for ‘Shopify help’ on your phone’s search bar.

To add more items to your restaurant menu, you can either click Continue to return to the menu creation screen or you can find existing items you can add by clicking Options at the bottom of the screen and then selecting Choose what to add from the dropdown menu.