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Wix Restaurants’ General Manager on Empowering Restaurant Owners and Meeting Their Needs in the Digital Age

Wix Restaurants’ General Manager on Empowering Restaurant Owners and Meeting Their Needs in the Digital Age

Chené Murphy
In this feature we hear from Orly Stern Izhaki, General Manager of Wix Restaurants, a seasoned tech leader with over two decades of experience in the industry. As the former GM of Wix Premium Service, Orly played a crucial role in shaping Wix’s business models and top products, including premium plans, domains, and mailboxes. With a keen eye for product vision, roadmap, and execution, Orly led her team in developing innovative B2B and B2C solutions, while also driving user acquisition, expansion, conversion, retention, and billing platform development. Prior to joining Wix, Orly held executive roles in product, business, and innovation, where she spearheaded the digital transformation of multiple financial companies. She also served as a consultant for corporations and startups and was a founding member of Pepper, the first digital bank in Israel. With her extensive experience and leadership skills, Orly is driving innovation and growth in the restaurant industry through Wix Restaurants.

What inspired you to join Wix Restaurants and how has your journey been so far as General Manager?

Joining Wix Restaurants was an easy decision for me, as I have always been passionate about the restaurant industry. Who doesn’t love food and the experiences that come with it? It’s a fun area to work in and everyone can relate to it. The idea of empowering restaurant owners with the tools they need to succeed in the digital age resonated with me, and it’s always satisfying to see our products being used by restaurants that I visit or order from online.

The restaurant industry is so diverse and dynamic – there’s always a new challenge to tackle. During the pandemic, we saw just how important online solutions are for this industry, and I have a great passion for creating products that help our users in their businesses and personal lives.

Within Wix, we have several verticals focusing on specific products and audiences, which we call companies. Each company has a General Manager who is the head of the company and essentially serves as that company’s CEO. This structure provides consistency throughout our overall Wix product development, while simultaneously allowing employees to collaborate on smaller teams and have the ability to create their vision and roadmap for products, ultimately making a big impact. It’s been a really exciting and rewarding challenge to lead the Wix Restaurant’s company as General Manager. I’ve learned a lot about the restaurant industry and how to help our users succeed.

One thing that I particularly enjoy is talking with our global users, visiting their restaurants, and understanding their operations. This allows me to see firsthand how we can improve their daily work and overall experience.  I’m excited to work on the new products and features we’re cooking up for our users and look forward to continuing to make a positive impact in the industry.

How has Wix Restaurants evolved since its inception, and what are some key features that set it apart from other website builders? 

What started as a way to get one’s business online, Wix Restaurants has evolved into an out-of-the-box solution that provides users with everything they might need to create, run, and grow their business. From showcasing their menu, and table reservations, taking online orders, and receiving payments, to bringing more traffic to their site with a suite of professional marketing and business tools like CRM and SEO, Wix Restaurants provides business owners with a variety of tools in a secure production-ready environment.

Restaurant owners can choose from over 60 professional restaurant and food website templates customized to fit the vibe of their businesses, with suggested features and apps that they might need. If someone who has coding knowledge wants to advance the solution, and further customize it, they can do so with Velo by Wix, a full-stack development platform that empowers users to rapidly build, manage and deploy professional web applications. With Velo, professional users can use the Wix Editor and then add custom functionality using standard JavaScript and Velo APIs in the built-in IDE to instantly build more dynamic sites with more control and flexibility.

Furthermore, we acknowledge that restaurant owners may not have the expertise or time to deal with the technical intricacies involved in creating and managing a website. Therefore, they might prefer to seek the services of a skilled designer, developer, or agency, which we refer to as Partners. Partners can assist restaurant owners at every step of the process, from constructing a website and displaying their menu to taking care of all aspects of running and maintaining their website. By leveraging our tools and resources, Partners can develop customized solutions that seamlessly align with the business objectives of the restaurant owners.

How has Wix Restaurants adapted to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and what measures has it taken to support its clients during this time?

The pandemic presented unprecedented challenges for the restaurant industry, and throughout the pandemic, we closely collaborated with restaurants to ensure they had the necessary tools to keep their businesses running.

One of the biggest challenges faced by restaurants during the pandemic was the need to offer contactless ordering and payment options as well as delivery solutions. To help address this, we incorporated additional delivery solutions and integrated QR code capabilities. We also integrated with third-party delivery providers to help restaurants that don’t have their own delivery fleet, reach new customers, and offer a wider range of delivery options. Now, as the demand for in-house dining is on the rise again, we’re introducing a new table reservations feature and providing new tools and integrations for restaurants to streamline and manage their orders better and reduce the time it takes to receive orders and complete them while eliminating potential errors.

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest trends in the restaurant industry that restaurant owners should be aware of, and how is Wix Restaurants addressing these Trends? 

In recent years, the restaurant industry has experienced a significant shift towards online ordering, delivery, and takeout. The pandemic accelerated this trend even further, leading to a surge in demand for contactless ordering, delivery, and pickup options. This shift has made it essential for restaurant owners to offer digital solutions that make it easier for customers to place orders and interact with their businesses.

Another trend we’re seeing in the restaurant industry is the use of digital management tools to streamline operations, reduce costs and help with the labor shortage restaurant owners are facing. From automated inventory management to online employee scheduling, different online tools and technologies can help restaurant owners manage their businesses more efficiently.

At Wix Restaurants, we’re addressing these trends by offering a range of digital solutions that make it easier for restaurant owners to manage their businesses. Our platform includes online ordering and delivery features, as well as contactless payment options, and we also offer a range of management tools. We’re focused on providing a flexible, user-friendly platform that helps restaurant owners meet the evolving needs of their customers and the industry.

Looking ahead, what are your plans for the future of Wix Restaurants, and how do you see the platform evolving to meet the changing needs of the restaurant industry?

At Wix, we are committed to meeting the needs of our users by continually enhancing our platform. We keep a close eye on industry trends and speak to our users to identify areas where we can add new capabilities, features, and integrations. Managing a restaurant can be a complex and challenging task, and we want to make it easier for owners to manage all aspects of their business with our platform. Our current solutions and integrations have been successful in simplifying restaurant management, and we plan to expand these offerings while ensuring our platform’s performance and reliability.

As we observe a growing trend towards platforms that offer more flexibility and options, we are focused on opening up our platform to provide standalone solutions that can be easily integrated into other systems. We’re seeing an increasing number of our partners and advanced users leverage our infrastructure to build their own solutions using low-code and no-code platforms. We’ll continue to embrace this shift by offering more open and flexible solutions to match the expectations and preferences of our users.

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