How Shanghai Flavor Grew Their Online Presence with Airmart
“With Airmart’s help, I was able to quickly learn and maintain an online presence for my restaurant.”
Lin-lin is the owner of Shanghai Flavor, a traditional Chinese food restaurant in Temecula, California. She’s run a dine-in shop with ten employees for six years and uses Airmart to reach her community through online orders. Originally, she relied strictly on in-person business with minimal take-out orders at her 4,000 square foot location.
Her customers were mostly neighboring passersby who enjoyed authentic Chinese food, such as dim sum and Jiangsu-style dishes. It has long been her dream to share her love for her food and heritage with as many people as possible, and Airmart has helped her achieve that.
Lin-lin initially relied on word-of-mouth referrals and curious pedestrians to bring new customers into her restaurant. She loved the personal connections she made with her customers and especially loved when she could introduce them to a world of flavor they hadn’t encountered before. Unfortunately, all of this changed when the COVID-19 pandemic led to lockdowns that forced businesses like hers to readapt to a world without indoor dining.
Pandemic Lockdown Challenges
Prior to the pandemic, online orders and phone orders were less than 10% of Lin-lin’s business. Phone orders had to be tediously written down orders one by one. At the time, she didn’t have a system to track phone orders or know how to safely and efficiently accept online payments.
When the pandemic began in 2020, offline businesses like Shanghai Flavor faced the fear of shutdowns amidst local lockdown regulations. Like many business owners, Lin-lin felt the pressure and desperation from the lockdown restrictions. She struggled to create new business through phone and online takeout orders. She had to let most of her team go due to the lack of available work. She quickly began to worry that her restaurant and the life she had built in California would not reach the end of 2020 intact. She turned to new online takeout and delivery options as ways to keep getting her food to as many people as possible.
She initially tried using various online platforms, such as a local grocery delivery company and its social media group order feature that allowed people to order food from each other. She used various platforms to promote her restaurant and create a local customer base and connections. She soon began hosting her own local messaging groups and connected with other restaurant owners navigating the new methods.
Despite her efforts, there were still a lot of steps involved, making it hard to keep track of orders and add new dishes to the online menu. She often found herself spending time on the phone anyways to help customers who struggled to place orders through the online platform. The complex interface of various apps often left her spending much more time than should have been necessary on ensuring that individual orders were correct.
Airmart and the Lockdown Solution
In late 2020, Lin-lin’s online shop on an online grocery delivery platform was closed without notice. She scrambled to find a new solution to avoid losing sales and customer loyalty. Fortunately for Lin-lin, a friend in the CSA business referred her to Airmart. A customer success representative taught her how to navigate the platform and manage her orders efficiently. Airmart’s platform integration allowed her to accept payments through different providers such as credit card company and Paypal to make ordering even more convenient for her customers.
Not only did Lin-lin save time, she was able to share her online menu with new customers via WeChat and other social media platforms, allowing her to maintain and grow her loyal base. She continued to attract more local customers and increased her sales. She was even able to connect with customers in more communities in the Greater Los Angeles area such as Thousand Oaks. As a restaurant that initially only served local customers, she never imagined that she would extend her reach to people so far away. While she missed the face-to-face interactions with people who would previously dine-in at Shanghai Flavor, she was thrilled with the new world of business and connection that had opened to her.
Airmart and User Interface
Before using Airmart, Lin-lin didn’t use a computer in her daily work and wasn’t entirely comfortable operating one. It took her a few weeks to get used to the platform, but she appreciates that Airmart is straightforward and user-friendly:
“We originally weren’t able to accept online orders. When COVID lockdown hit, we struggled to explore online avenues to generate revenue. With Airmart’s help, I was able to quickly learn and maintain an online presence for my restaurant. Airmart helped me to promote my signature style dishes to new customers from cities over 100 miles away. This accomplishment was unimaginable for me.”
— Lin-lin, owner of Shanghai Flavor
Airmart saved both Lin-lin and her customers time and effort. This allowed Lin-lin to create a more personalized and prompt dining experience for her delivery customers.
Airmart also allowed Lin-lin to better track her business logistics. One of her most used features is the order management and transaction history log. It saves time spent on bookkeeping and allows her to track cash versus electronic revenue.
Looking Ahead with Airmart
Lin-lin worries about the future of local businesses in the pandemic. In the past, customers often discovered her restaurant as they walked past. But now, she realizes that the nature of business has likely changed permanently.
She is grateful that Airmart has made her more optimistic about her restaurant’s future. She recommends Airmart to anyone making the move from in-person sales to online. With Airmart’s help, Lin-lin was able to achieve sales revenues even better than before the pandemic. She looks forward to the future of her restaurant and those of her peers with the help of Airmart.
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