From dine-in to digital: Restaurant chain shares tips for ‘new normal’ shift

From dine-in to digital: Restaurant chain shares tips for 'new normal' shift

MANILA, Philippines — Business is still bouncing from the heavy losses incurred for almost a year of inactivity due to the pandemic.

The restaurant industry, in particular, suffered the brunt as most remained closed for safety reasons.

The closure is one big hurdle but it did not deter a 38-year-old Bicol-born restaurant from finding ways to continue serving up its loyal patrons.

Biggs is well-loved for its ribs and meats, and it found a way for its patrons to still get their beloved favorites.

They tuned into what their patrons' would likely be feeling while stuck in their house: they saw them going through their fridge for an easy-to-prepare but delicious and filling comfort food.

Thus, the restaurant's eureka moment happened with the best-selling Ready-To-Cook Ribs.

Half a year later with over 10 products and 12 more in the pipeline, the restaurant is looking forward to managing its growing digital presence and maintaining its retail spaces with over 50 stores in Metro Manila and Bicol.

While the product is already there — the ribs being one of its flagship products for years — launching it in a new platform and in a challenging year is another story.

Here are five of the key steps the restaurant took to pivot itself to e-commerce.

1. Talk to your customers.

For the restaurant, it’s not only looking at past sales performances to determine which product to develop but to have its customers be product co-creators. Through surveys, focus group discussions, and interviews — all done online — the restaurant asked its customers on how frequent they cook in a week, the food preparation methods they are looking for, even the flavor profiles they prefer.

2. Invest in creatives.

Competition in the e-commerce space is stiff with brands fighting over attention from customers lured in by compelling visuals and rich content. By having its in-house team work with creative suppliers, the restaurant is able to come up with fresh content every time through its many social media platforms.

3. Build relationships with an enabler.

Besides being a landscape for creatives, the e-commerce space requires efficiencies to be made in the logistics, inventory, web development and operations departments. An enabler company builds these synergies within its team or outside to bridge these gaps.

4. Invest in paid ads.

It is not enough to build an incredible website. In many cases, the website will be very much like a physical store: it requires careful construction, regular upkeep and constant improvements. Driving customers to it is another story.

Driving traffic through organic content works to some extent, but with tight competition coupled with continuous changes in social media algorithms, it’s going to be a slow burn. Paid ads ensure the visibility of your products to your target audiences and guarantee optimal sales conversion.

5. Strike a balance between what you have (both product and data) and what your customers like.

Fortunately, the restaurant already had a hero product in mind — the Ribs. The company just had to make this all-time favorite easier to prepare at home. It was able to come up with its make-at-home kit through the help of data-driven decisions found in its e-commerce system. If there’s one learning that stood out in this movement from dine-in to digital, it’s the importance of agility.

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