Restaurateurs know food and clothing retailers know fashion, but these small business owners rarely understand the nuts and bolts of what's involved in developing a successful Web presence for their companies. SinglePlatform is an all-in-one solution that merchants can use to develop and manage every aspect of their online storefronts.
How it works: More than 97 percent of consumers use online media when researching local products and services, which means merchants that fail to promote themselves online are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to attracting customers and patrons. SinglePlatform offers a solution for small business owners who aren't comfortable creating their own digital storefronts and updating their websites. The company's account managers work with business owners to create robust websites that are SEO-optimized and accessible from any mobile device. Even more importantly, these websites are easy for business owners to update on a regular basis. Using SinglePlatform, business owners can change their posted menus, specials, services and hours from any computer or smartphone with just a few quick clicks. The information they put in is then used to update their social media accounts across the Web, including Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter.
SinglePlatform in action: Although SinglePlatform could work for businesses in a number of industries, it's ideally suited for restaurants, bakeries and cafes. Local merchants with static websites that don't work on smartphones and tablets can sign up for SinglePlatform for an immediate upgrade to their online presence. Business owners upload their menus, photos, current specials and upcoming events to the SinglePlatform dashboard, and the information they put in is automatically pushed to all their websites, social networking accounts and mobile applications. SinglePlatform also distributes this updated information across its network of publishing partners, which includes the New York Times, YP.com, Metromix and Foursquare.
To find out how well their online marketing tactics are working, SinglePlatform gives businesses access to direct online metrics that show the time users spend on their websites, the number of pages viewed per visit, and the number of visitors their sites are getting each month. The platform charges businesses a fee that ranges from $100 to $200 a year for its basic services, in addition to a commission fee based on the number of calls that come in through a dedicated phone number.
Why it works: By using SinglePlatform, restaurant owners can rest assured that people who stumble across their menus and specials when searching for local businesses online won't be given information that is incorrect or out of date. By giving people access to updated menus, hours and location details—and making this information accessible from mobile devices, as well as computers—merchants increase the likelihood that consumers will choose their restaurants or cafes when deciding where to go for a quick bite to eat. SinglePlatform also provides restaurants with the ability to get their menus posted across a network of publishers. Not only does the platform push updated information to its media partners, but it also distributes content to popular mobile applications, data providers, hotel chains and universities.
Maximizing the benefits: SinglePlatform gives business owners the tools to communicate and connect with their customers online, but it's up to the merchants themselves to actually use these tools to their full capabilities. Businesses should create accounts on any social networking sites or mobile applications they aren't currently using, and actively engage in conversations with customers communicating with them through those sites. Restaurants that accept reservations through OpenTable and online delivery orders through Seamless should also make sure to include links to these platforms on their mobile sites to make it easier for customers to complete transactions in as few steps as possible.
Read more "How It Works."
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight. She is based in Portland, Ore.