PHILIPPINES – There’s a common plotline among stories of brands moving into the digital space: the need to scale up, expand its demographics, or make up for a cool portfolio. For 38 year-old Bicol-born restaurant chain BIGGS, it’s simply to let its customers continue the dining experience at home.
2020, of course, played the key role: quarantine regulations kept everyone at home. This meant restaurants trying to thrive through a business model that’s built around social interaction and the togetherness that ‘dining in’ actually is. With no clear timelines as to when customers would come back, restaurants scrambled to cut costs on all corners, grow its delivery segment, and even diversify its products.
But instead of simply looking for means to survive, BIGGS found a way to thrive. To do this, they didn’t look very far: it’s a picture of a BIGGS customer who’s alone in the kitchen. He’s looking through his fridge for an easy-prep, delicious, filling comfort food which he can make with the help of a pan, an oven, or a grill. Along comes the bestselling Biggs Ready-To-Cook Ribs.
Half a year later with over ten products and twelve more in the pipeline, the brand straddles the future by reigning in both the digital (with a vibrant e-commerce page) and retail spaces (being in over 50 stores in Metro Manila and Bicol).
While the product is already there–the Ribs being one of its flagship products for years–launching it in a platform so new and in a year so challenging is another story. Here are five (5) of the key steps BIGGS took to successfully pivot itself to e-commerce.
- Talk to your customers. For BIGGS, it’s not only looking at past sales performances to determine which product to develop but to have its customers be product co-creators. Through surveys, focus group discussions, and interviews–all done online–BIGGS asked its customers on how frequent they cook in a week, the food preparation methods they are looking for, even the flavor profiles they prefer.
- Invest in Creatives. The e-commerce space is peppered with compelling visuals and rich content. The competition for attention is stiff. By having its in-house team work with creative suppliers, BIGGS is able to come up with fresh content every time through its many social media platforms.
- Build relationships with an enabler. Besides being a landscape for creatives, the e-commerce space requires efficiencies to be made in the logistics, inventory, web development and operations departments. An enabler company builds these synergies within its team or outside to bridge these gaps.
- After building an incredible website, invest in paid ads. In many cases, the website will be very much like a physical store: it requires careful construction, regular upkeep and constant improvements. Driving customers to it is another story. Driving traffic through organic content works to some extent, but with tight competition coupled with continuous changes in social media algorithms, it’s going to be a slow burn. Paid ads ensure the visibility of your products to your target audiences and guarantee optimal sales conversion.
- Strike a balance between what you have (both product and data) and what your customers like. Fortunately, BIGGS already had a hero product in mind–the BIGGS Ribs. What needed to happen is to reformat this restaurant hit into something its customers can prepare at home with limited tools. Making data-driven decisions–supported by rich data found in its e-commerce systems–help the brand make changes quickly. If there’s one learning that stood out in this movement from dine-in to digital, it’s the importance of agility.
BIGGS Ready To Cook Ribs: official website