How to Run a Successful Deli | Top 6 Tips for Deli Owners


Revel Blog | Revel | June 30, 2022 |

Consumers are increasingly gravitating towards delis in search of quick, grab-and-go meals. According to the Supermarket News 2022 Retailer Expectation Survey, 56% of respondents ranked deli-foodservice as the category they expect to have the most success with in 2022—a projection that aligned with the increasing number of consumers visiting delis for convenient meal solutions. 

Keeping this trend in mind, we delve a bit deeper into the ways you can position your deli as your neighborhood’s top local eatery. You already know what it takes to run a deli. Set your sights on something bigger: establishing your reputation as a go-to spot for comfort food or quick, on-the-go delights. The most successful delis have been around for decades, demonstrating the power of tradition, branding, and quality. Whether you’re new to the game or a longtime brand, here are some tips to help your deli stand out:

6 Ways to Run a Successful Deli Business

Create a Deli Menu from Scratch 

It’s not a given that every deli business prepares its own pesto, hummus, or “homemade” pie. Making and using quality ingredients is a must for reaching deli stardom. Do you cure and roast your meat on-premises? Do you bake your bread in-house? Ben’s Best, voted one of the country’s best deli businesses by Food & Wine, steams its pastrami for six hours to unlock its flavors. Americans have a soft spot for a really good sandwich. Making one involves more than a hasty assembly of pre-bought ingredients. Create a deli menu that is unique to your business and sets yourself apart from the competition.

Create a Signature Deli Food Staple

Just as bands often have one person as the “frontman,” your deli may distinguish itself with a famous recipe or two that brings the crowd in to appreciate the rest of your menu. The food-loving community and local “Best of” lists scour each city’s deli food in search of a delicious grilled cheese, classic strawberry pie, or award-worthy barbecue brisket. What’s your signature staple going to be? If you make it, they will come.

Stock Your Secret Deli Shop Ingredients

This touches upon both tips one and two. When you make your ingredients from scratch and begin to establish yourself with signature products that represent your brand, your patrons may want to take home more. Do you make your own pickles, jam, or secret sauce? Consider bottling them and selling these products on your deli store shelves, or at a local farmers’ market, for happy customers and a little extra profit.

Cross Merchandise Your Local Deli

Layout is key to optimizing floor space for the most profitable return, as well as providing an exceptional customer experience. Voni Woods, VP of food service at Starbucks and Giant Eagle, stresses the importance of cross-merchandising your deli offerings. “Since foodservice is highly perishable, we are mostly not cross-merchandising out of department, but rather bringing items into the area for a more solution-based approach,” Woods states. Take advantage of your retail space and place compatible items within the same vicinity. For example, offer bread and crackers by the soup station, or place toppings and fixings near your salad and hot bar. And of course, don’t miss the opportunity to offer last-minute dessert options by the checkout counter.

Cater to Customers

Delis let diners eat relatively quickly, without succumbing to less-healthy fast food. A large chunk of your total clientele may consist of people seeking healthy, vegetarian, or low-calorie options. Does your deli menu offer a variety of enticing meals? Keeping this growing customer segment happy will help your deli business grow into the future.

Leverage Your Labor Within Your Deli Business

Behind every successful deli is an amazing team. Operational issues and challenges are inevitable but can be effectively managed when executed correctly. Providing an unparalleled customer experience will ensure client loyalty. This can only happen with the right team of employees. How much time are you spending training employees? Consider implementing technology when opening a deli that cuts back on employee training time and facilitates quick, easy transactions.

How to start a Deli Shop with the Help of Revel’s Technology

As mentioned previously, you want to consider technology that employees find easy to use and can accept transactions quickly. You also want to consider a point of sale system (POS) that can adapt with you as the market changes and is an overall business management platform for your business. Luckily, Revel’s cloud POS system has you covered. Even better, our POS system is run on a familiar and easy to use Apple iPad that makes training quick and seamless. Revel has numerous solutions to support your deli business from open API to inventory management and reporting tools to payment capabilities and more. Being cloud-based allows Revel to quickly and easily make upgrades and adapt our technology with the market, unlike other POS legacy systems. Let’s dive into some of our technology solutions that would help you run a successful deli. 

Open API

Open API is one of the huge benefits of Revel’s POS system and customization is key. Whether you’re designing a loyalty program for your deli business that drives higher frequencies of repeat visits with your top customers or adjusting to mandated changes when the unexpected happens (like a global pandemic), Revel’s roster of integrated partners lets you quickly and easily add best-of-breed solutions.

Inventory Management and Reporting 

Track your inventory, down to the ingredient level, in real-time so you know what to reorder and when for your deli shops. Revel updates inventory count for you, sends automatic stock alerts and generates purchase orders, so inventory never runs out. Low-Stock alerts keep you one step ahead. You can set up alerts to let you know when items are low, generate purchase orders and automatically send them to your vendors. Also, you can track past year’s sales numbers so you can get results to further fine tune your inventory and ordering process.

Flexible Payments

Revel allows for a quick and easy transaction experience. Split bills are supported, we offer the latest in payment security, and accept a variety of payment types, from EMV chipped cards, to mobile payments and more.

Learn more about Revel Systems and how our technology can help support your deli business and run a successful deli shop. Request a free demo today!