Since opening in 1977, the family owned Taste of Texas has been serving up the some of the finest Certified Angus Beef® from their Houston restaurant and has grown into the largest independent restaurant in Texas. In the early 2000’s, Taste of Texas began offering many of their best restaurant offerings and gifts for sale online through a BigCommerce storefront. Since the launch into online sales, Taste of Texas has renovated the restaurant, overhauled the website, and successfully launched a 40th anniversary cookbook.
After tackling the site redesign, Taste of Texas and Blue Fish focused on several custom application integrations to solve some of the long-standing business challenges for the award-winning restaurant. Let’s dive into one of their biggest pain-points here.
Gift Card Redemption
During the holiday shopping season, Taste of Texas promotes a wildly popular holiday gift card special. The gift card special typically runs from Thanksgiving to Christmas and results in a holiday boom for both the store and the restaurant. However, traditionally, gift cards sold in the restaurant could not be used for online purchases. Conversely, gift cards sold online could only be used for online purchases. While the website was hosted on BigCommerce, which offers native e-gift card functionality, the electronic gift cards sold on the website could not be easily verified for use in the restaurant. Similarly, with no integration to the restaurant point of sale system, physical gift cards could not be validated for online purchases.
Aloha Point of Sale and Loyalty Rewards
The first step to enabling a more seamless customer experience was the installation of a more modern point of sale (POS) and loyalty software system throughout the restaurant. Installing the new Aloha POS system in the restaurant opened up the integration opportunities, as we now had access to the Aloha Gift Card & Loyalty programs through the Aloha Stored Value API. This meant we could use Aloha as the master record for all gift cards sold in the restaurant and online.
Custom Gift Card Integration
Blue Fish designed and developed a middleware application bridge to facilitate secure communication between the BigCommerce store and Aloha POS system for gift card management. The new application bridge allowed Blue Fish to create several back-office, convenience features for issuing and managing gift cards, whether purchased online or in the restaurant. In addition to the middleware application, the custom store theme was modified to manage card validations and verify balances before any card is used.
Through the application, physical gift cards are seamlessly converted to electronic gift cards in the BigCommerce store and balances are updated on the fly to prevent fraudulent use or attempted re-use whether online or in the restaurant. New electronic gift cards are sent via custom email in a similar fashion to the BigCommerce native gift certificate functionality, but the cards numbers are native to Aloha.
Once the application bridge was in place, we had an opportunity to make incremental improvements to many of the third-party applications used on the BigCommerce storefront. One of the challenges we face with storefronts in BigCommerce is the necessity for a middleware application for custom integrations and applications. With that barrier to entry out of the way, we began to evaluate some of the applications in use at Taste of Texas. Here are a few of the improvements we’ve since added to the middleware application bridge:
Since gift cards are often gifted to friends, family and business associates, it was important to the Taste of Texas family, that everyone near and far have the opportunity to use their gift cards and experience the Taste of Texas. Together, we’ve created many more happy customers.
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