Castiron is a software platform purpose-built to help independent food artisans start, build, and grow their businesses.Sign Up (It's Free!)
Castiron is 100% free for artisans to use. We know how important a professional digital presence is, which is why our platform is free forever. And because we know you’re wondering, we make money when you make money, applying a small transaction fee that’s paid at checkout.
We’ve tailored Castiron to fit the needs of kitchen-based creators who are selling their products to family, friends, and followers through word-of-mouth and social media. After a super fast setup (if you can create a social media profile, you can set up a Castiron shop!), you’ll have a single place to sell, manage orders, and communicate with customers.
No code required. Add products, upload your logo, share your story, and link to your social profiles from your flexible store.
Never track down a payment or oversell products again. Real-time inventory tracking and secure payment processing make life easier for you and your customers.
With our magical marketing tools, email and social media marketing are on autopilot. We make it easy to promote your latest products and deals.
The pandemic has seen a tremendous increase in home cooking, with many people at home and in their kitchens. This hobby has turned from a fun weekend activity to a growing small business for many people. In addition, many home cooks, bakers, and jam-makers can benefit financially by starting a cottage food business.
Cottage foods are cooked at home and are "low-risk" foods, meaning they don't spoil or require refrigeration. The FDA distinguishes low-risk and high-risk foods, but foods that spoil or need refrigeration are considered high-risk. For example, meat, dairy, and eggs are high-risk foods, but loaves of bread, jams, dried and pickled foods, and certain baked goods are low-risk.
Thankfully, customer interest in locally produced cottage foods has increased. Because of this interest, all 50 U.S. states have altered their rules to permit at least some level of cottage food production and sales.
While recent legislation on cottage food makes it a little easier to break into the industry, there are still state and county laws that must be understood and followed.
While some micro kitchens or cottage food businesses are only allowed to sell at farmers' markets or in retail stores, others can sell online. As of today, 42 states allow cottage food businesses to sell online to buyers within state limits.
In Texas, you're allowed to sell online, "as long as you personally deliver the food to your customer." In addition, all of the label information must be available to the customer before purchasing. Thankfully, it's easy to give access to this information by having it readily available on your website.
Regardless of whether a micro kitchen or cottage food business is allowed to sell online, small businesses need an online presence for marketing purposes. However, building a business website can be scary for those that don't have any previous website experience.
Thankfully, free website builders and restaurant website templates make it easy for small businesses like cottage food establishments and micro-restaurants to create a website.
A simple search for the best website builder for a small business may leave you overwhelmed, as you'll find Wix templates, Shopify links, Squarespace (and Square!), among many other restaurant templates for free.
While Wix restaurant templates and others can help you with your restaurant website project, it might be best to specifically consider a website builder for a food business. That's where a tool like Castiron comes in — it's a website builder and online store builder made specifically for food sellers.
According to statistics, the meal delivery sector is rapidly expanding, with online providers outpacing offline services. So, it's an excellent time for cottage food businesses and micro-restaurants to launch e-commerce storefronts.
So, if you've created your home-based food business, you will need an online food ordering website builder. You don't need to know HTML or how to code in order to build a successful e-commerce website.
But, what should you look for when considering online food delivery website design?
Ensure the online ordering website template is made explicitly for home-based food businesses. While many website builders are available, it's imperative to find one that understands your needs as a business owner.
While some online food ordering website builders cost money, there are fantastic ones that offer excellent products for free. In addition, some can pass on a small convenience fee to your customers, so your small business doesn't have to incur any fees whatsoever.
Some of the companies that offer a restaurant website builder for free stop at creating the website. As a small business owner, you'll need a one-stop-shop to include ordering, inventory, fulfillment, customer communication, and sales tax compliance.
In addition to finding a one-stop shop for your small business, having a website that helps you grow your business is essential. There are automated marketing tools that can send automated emails and post updates on social media.
It might be easy to keep track of everything when you first start, but you'll need an online database to keep track of customer information, order details, and fulfillment methods once you get going. What better way to have a customer database than through your website builder?
Because of the convenience, most people tend to do more shopping and ordering from their phones rather than on a PC. With this comes the need to have a mobile-friendly website that offers responsive design. Nothing will turn away a prospective customer faster than a clunky mobile website.
Your website communicates everything about your company, including the quality of your product and catering experience. Every caterer needs to have a solid and professional brand. So think about things like your logo, colors, and website layout.
You'll want the most effective, efficient, UI-friendly, and versatile website possible.
Several eCommerce options are available, such as Shopify or WooCommerce, and others, all of which claim to be easy to set up. But, unfortunately, none of them are designed specifically for meal ordering, much less catering.
It's critical to do your research to find the best catering websites, regardless of whether you're operating out of a food truck or your kitchen.
The best website builder for your catering business has elements such as:
It's also crucial to make sure your catering website and ordering experience are "mobile friendly," but keep in mind that your clients use their phones in a different context than when they're seated at a computer. Because mobile users are more likely to become sidetracked, make sure the experience is quick and straightforward. It's critical to give them time to finish if they require it.
Successful online caterers maintain a relationship with clients by communicating with them regularly. So finding a catering website builder that offers a customer database is vital. Even better if the catering website provides SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools, automated marketing, and social media planning. As a small business owner, you won't have the time to do much beyond cooking and prepping, so giving that responsibility to someone (or something else) is priceless.
As a new business owner, you'll want any perks that you can get! So before using a free catering website template, see what bonuses they offer. Some website builders provide extra perks, so imagine if you could gain wholesale pricing on some of your ingredients or obtain discounted kitchen insurance?
For a new business owner, it's imperative to be able to get your business up and running quickly without the need for technical help or assistance.
Three of the most popular and easy-to-use website builders are:
Wix is by far the most common website builder overall. In addition, it consistently ranks as the #1 builder for its ease of use and applicability across all industries.
Wix is a fantastic website builder that will perform almost any task you need. However, if you are a small home-based cottage food company, Wix is likely overkill for what you need. On the other hand, Wix is probably the best website for a restaurant or for online restaurant ordering.
Squarespace is your go-to website builder if the visual appeal of your business's website is your top priority. The builder comes with meticulously prepared templates and an editor that is feature-rich and integrates with a variety of third-party services.
The features and elements of Squarespace are extensive, but here are the most appealing:
Similar to Wix, Squarespace is also easy to use and maintain. Squarespace might be the best website builder for online restaurant ordering, but probably still overkill for a small start-up business.
Square transformed the marketplace with rapid, affordable monetizing options, starting as one of the few ways consumers could take "mobile" transactions on the fly. In addition, Square now makes it easier to go digital by allowing merchants to set up online stores for the cost of payment processing.
Despite a few drawbacks, Square provides nearly everything you'll need to get your online store up and running, including:
Square Online is the best website builder for those that want to integrate or already use Square's payment system. This could be the best website builder for a coffee shop, food truck, or small catering business. The best thing about Square is that they offer a free version but with a 2.9% + 30¢ fee per transaction.
Find all of the tools you need to build your food business in one simple platform. If this isn’t the easiest store setup process you’ve seen, we’d offer to refund you, but it’s free!Get Started
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