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A Quick Guide to Direct To Consumer Strategy for Restaurants

Cory Plachy | April 26, 2024 |

Marketing 101 Featured
A Quick Guide to Direct To Consumer Strategy for Restaurants

Recent changes in consumer behavior have revolutionized how restaurants serve customers. Just look at the stats: global revenue from online food delivery is predicted to reach US$1.79 trillion by 2028 – that’s a compound annual growth rate of 10.06% over four years.

But does this middleman hinder your ability to connect with potential customers? Is it impacting your profit margins? Should you be selling directly to customers instead?

Here’s how you can leverage a direct to consumer strategy to drive revenue while building better relationships.

What is direct to consumer strategy?

A direct to consumer strategy (D2C or DTC) is a sales and marketing tactic that focuses on advertising and selling directly to customers. Rather than relying on traditional distribution methods, direct consumer marketing utilizes channels managed in-house.

D2C vs B2C: What's the difference?

In the context of the restaurant industry, the main distinction is independence.

With D2C, customers can place an online order directly through your restaurant's website or mobile app. That order might be for meal delivery, but more restaurants are also launching product lines.


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Business to consumer (B2C) strategies, on the other hand, involve selling through third-parties like wholesalers or food delivery businesses.

In this way, B2C approaches often lack flexibility. Granted, a D2C approach will require more time, skills, and knowledge, from understanding the differences between the credit card acquirer and issuer to setting up a new website (more on that later). But it does make it easier to control discounts, upsell, and encourage loyalty.

That said, B2C marketing strategies can help you reach new customers. So, adopting a D2C approach alongside this is a great way to make the most of cross-channel marketing. If you communicate a unified message across all internal and external channels, you can significantly increase sales and better connect with potential customers to build stronger customer relationships.

Why use a D2C strategy for your restaurant?

The direct to consumer model is particularly effective in the restaurant industry. Why? Because, among other things, it offers restaurants:

  • Complete control: From messaging to payment options, you’ll have more opportunities for branding and building relationships.
  • Better insights: Each time a customer visits your website or app, you can collect data for marketing purposes and gather valuable customer feedback.
  • Higher profit margins: Cutting out third-party retail partners means no more paying additional fees or coughing up a percentage of sales.
  • More flexibility: You can quickly adapt to changing consumer preferences and market trends.
  • Greater innovation & customer experiences: You can be more creative in how you connect physical stores, retail channels, and digital channels. For example, you might introduce a QR code on business card templates to increase customer engagement or sell branded product lines through Instagram.

8 ways to build a direct-to-consumer strategy for you restaurant business

Whether you want more control over delivery or to foster a deeper sense of customer trust, here are eight steps to help your direct to consumer marketing strategy reach new heights.

1. Define your D2C goals

What do you want to achieve with your direct to consumer strategy? Ensure your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

With the D2C model, objectives that restaurants typically aim for include:

  • Increasing sales
  • Improving customer loyalty
  • Winning back lost customers
  • Gathering customer data
  • Finding new retail partners
  • Expanding market reach

2. Develop your brand story

What are your restaurant's unique selling points? How do your values resonate with your target audience? To build a strong brand identity, you should be able to craft a compelling brand story that sets you apart, from the containers you sell your hot sauce in, to the wording on your website.

When selling D2C, your website is often the first impression customers have of your brand online, so your choice of domain name is also a crucial factor. Choosing a domain name that reflects your brand, cuisine, or location can boost visibility and make it easier for customers to find you.

If you're aiming to sell branded products, for example, you may be toying with the idea of setting up an entirely new website. Terry Black’s BBQ in Austin uses a separate domain – – but you can also create a shop within your existing website. Learn more about the differences and benefits of domain vs subdomain with OnlyDomains.

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3. Create a user-friendly website

Once you’ve secured your domain and ensured it tells the story of your brand, make sure it’s optimized. To create seamless online customer experiences, your website needs to be easy to find and use and optimized for different devices, especially mobiles.

Here are a few effective ways of doing that:

  • Make sure your menu is easy to find and clearly priced. 
  • Include mouthwatering photos and clear contact information for absolute clarity.
  • Offer online ordering where customers can browse your menu and customize their orders. 
  • Seamlessly integrate it with your retail point of sale system for smooth transactions directly through your website, mobile app, or retail partners.

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Don’t forget that, while your website may be the most popular D2C channel, it’s not the only one. If you want to make things quicker and easier for your team and customers, you might implement progressive dialer software to make calls more reliable or integrate a chatbot into your website to manage frequently asked questions.

4. Promote your D2C channels

As well as your restaurant’s social media marketing channels, email marketing, subscription models, and partnerships with local food bloggers can promote your D2C offerings to a wider audience.

From large restaurant consumer brands to start-ups, you can also incorporate this into your re-engagement strategy. If you’ve recently started selling your own line of hot sauce or just launched an app, offering discounts or rewards in exchange for feedback is a brilliant way of bringing old customers back into the fold.

5. Collect customer data

Struggling to create personalized marketing campaigns and personalized experiences that have a real impact? Actively collecting customer data helps identify consumer trends and emerging demands on the horizon. It also informs strategic decision-making when it comes to menu planning and pricing.

Effective ways for restaurants to collect customer data include:

  • Email sign-ups
  • Loyalty programs
  • Customer feedback surveys

6. Offer value-added services

What services can you offer that other restaurants don’t? Consider services like cooking classes, virtual events, and recipes – these are all particularly beneficial for strengthening emotional connections with customers. More importantly, they differentiate your restaurant from the competition.

But don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Perhaps you allow customers to place a pre-order outside of opening hours. Or if you’re a restaurant chain, maybe you establish contact center call routing so that anyone who calls your company will be automatically matched with the right department.

7. Monitor and analyze performance

Always track and analyze the performance of your D2C strategy. This will help identify your best performing areas and those that require improvement.

Analytics tools will give you valuable insights into website traffic, conversion rates, order volume, customer behavior, and more. Regularly monitoring D2C channels is also a form of risk management, as you can proactively identify and mitigate issues like technical problems or customer complaints.

8. Repeat and improve the customer journey

The industry is dynamic and competitive, to say the least. Regularly gather and act on feedback, keep abreast of market trends, and make sure you’re on track with business goals. Being adaptable and flexible will help you stay one step ahead.

A recipe for success: Reinvent your restaurant with a direct to consumer strategy

Done right, an effective direct to consumer strategy can help breathe new life into your restaurant business, giving you more opportunities to be creative and retain control. 

By keeping the customer’s needs in mind throughout the process and considering a variety of digital marketing and offline initiatives, you’ll soon increase loyalty and engagement with your customer base.

Author Bio:
Cory Plachy - Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications
Cory Plachy is the Senior Marketing and Communications Manager at Convoso, the leading contact center software for powering sales and lead generation As an adaptable and naturally curious Marketing Communications Manager, Cory channels years of content creation, marketing and sales experience into the world of SaaS communication. Cory has written for other domains such as PushFar and Divante. Here is her LinkedIn.