You may not think online selling and the restaurant business have much in common. However, when you look at the basics of both, there are more similarities than you might imagine. For one, both restaurants and online sellers live and thrive off of the satisfaction of their buyers.

Repeat customers often becomes their lifeblood. A scathing review can cost them significantly. There are some great tips that can be learned from the best restaurants in the business. Set aside for a moment the differences between eBay and Emeril, and use these ideas for your own benefit.


Good Descriptions

The way you talk about your products matters. Successful restaurants take advantage of the space beneath dishes on their menu to describe ingredients and flavors in detail. The best ones paint the picture of how the flavors will blend to create an entirely unique experience, unlike anything they’ve ever had – even if it’s just pizza. If I had to chose between a lower priced, plain pepperoni pizza, or a moderately priced pizza but it had artisanal cheeses and organic Sicilian thin-sliced sausage, I’m picking the latter. Why? Because the description enticed me (and sounded worth the money), even though both are essentially the same thing. Let buyers know more than just what the product is. This works especially well on your own storefront or marketplaces like Etsy, where there are fewer restrictions. Tell the customer a story; tell them why they want this product. Help them paint the picture of how much more satisfied they’ll feel once they buy it.


High Quality Photos

The websites of the highest-rated restaurants have professionally done photographs of their space, stainless-steel kitchen, and exquisite dishes. The lighting is usually moody – soft, dark, and mysterious enough to create that romantic and inviting atmosphere. Use these same principles when selecting photos for your products. Make sure they are clear and well-lit. Remove any background obstructions, especially if you sell on Amazon, where items are required to have an entirely white background. Sell on eBay, Etsy or your own store? Take more photos of intricate details of each product, different angles, maybe even a photo of it in its intended use. The more you give your customer the better. Be thoughtful of lighting, photo gradient, colors and more. For help with photo editing, read our post on the three best free photo editors here.


Accessible Policies

Tell your customer what they need to know, in a place that’s easy to find. Sometimes this is a disclaimer; restaurants post an advisory for consuming raw, undercooked food on the sushi portion of a menu. Other times though, it’s just any question a potential customer may want to know. Restaurants post store hours, holiday hours, whether or not they accept reservations, dress code and more. Do the same for your storefront and marketplaces. Let a potential buyer know how fast you ship, if you take inquiries on weekends, how quickly you respond, if they need to send in custom measurements prior, etc. Not only will this pass on the sense that you’re a professional seller who knows what they’re doing, it will also prevent potential mishaps in the future. If a customer fails to send in custom measurements when that policy is clearly stated in your store, you can protect yourself from a disgruntled buyer.


Clear CTAs (Calls-to-Action)

In the restaurant world, this is all about menus. The way its organized, the size of menu headings, descriptions and prices are all intended to draw the patrons eyes to the places they want them to look (and then follow through with ordering). Make sure you are apparent with what you want your customers to do. Do you want them to click on a promotional item? Go ahead and search through the products that just arrived? Create buttons and links that stand out. Give them a subtle nudge towards where you want them to go. Color matters in this instance. Reread our post on color theory in website design for help on picking the right blends for your website.


Show Reviews

When you’re looking for a new restaurant to try, what do you do? Read the reviews. With an abundance of review sites like Yelp, Yahoo and even now Google+, people are talking. It’s increasingly important for your success! When a restaurant receives a glowing review, it will likely end up on their page for browsers to find without digging too far. Post your customer reviews on your site, possibly on the homepage where shoppers can find them without looking too hard. Apps like Product Reviews from the Shopify App store can store your reviews. You select which ones you want to display, and they populate on your site.

There’s always something to be learned from the best in the business, even if it’s not from your exact industry. Steal their strategies, and use them for your own benefit so that you can manage and position your ecommerce company for greater success.

So, while we’re on the subject of restaurants…what are some of your favorites? Don’t forget to share your city and tell us about your own ecommerce business too. We want to know what you sell!

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