How To Optimize Your Restaurant’s Online Ordering Menu?
Restaurants can easily leverage their online ordering platform to generate additional revenues. A fully customizable online ordering platform coupled with a great marketing strategy can help you reach more customers online. However, to keep those customers coming back, restaurant managers should spend some time optimizing their restaurant’s online ordering menu to streamline the customer experience. We have put together a list of 10 steps you can take to optimize your restaurant’s online ordering menu.
10 Tips to Optimize Your Restaurant’s Online Ordering Menu
- Rethink Your Menu
- Include High-Quality Photos
- Clear Menu Item Names
- Precise Descriptions
- Categorize Menu Items
- Make it simple for guests to customize
- Create upsell and cross-sell opportunities
- Order Of menu Items
- Leverage Data
- Keep Your Menu up-to-date
1. Rethink Your Menu
Often, restaurant owners make the mistake of taking their entire dine-in menu online without giving any thought to individual menu items. Some food items may be very popular in-store but what you need to consider is if they will hold their taste and integrity in a packaged container.
Imagine receiving a cold soup or soggy nachos for lunch or a curry spillover crisis ruining your work table! As a restaurant owner/manager, it falls on us to deliver a consistent brand experience for pick-up and delivery orders. If you feel that a particular item on your menu will not carry well, it is best to take it off the online menu.
However, if the item in question is your signature dish and you feel your online customers would like to see it on the menu then you would need to go the extra mile. Experiment with different packaging options to find what works best for you. Pack the individual component of dish separately. For instance, to retain the crunchiness and flavor in your salads, you can pack the dressing and croutons separately.
Before preparing your final menu, factor in the cost of additional packaging and take into account both the popularity and profitability index of each menu item. Your final online menu should contain items that
- carry well/ or alternatively figure out special packaging to retain flavors and texture
- Profitable even after including the additional packaging costs
2. Include High-Quality Photos
Imagine sitting down at a restaurant and waiting for your food to arrive. A scrumptious platter arrives for the fellow on adjoining table, and suddenly, you are more hungry than you thought! Food appeals to all our senses, and the first assault is almost always visual! In fact every time a customer walks in to your restaurant, he is taken over by a host of aromas and visual treats that hook them on to your food. But, how do ensure that any prospect who lands on your website orders instantly?
You guessed it, images! Food pictures that make them drool.
You don’t need to be a professional photographer to take great pics. All you need is a smartphone and a little practice. Use these tips to capture great food images!
a. Use Natural Light
Stay away from bright sunlight to avoid shadows. Although, you can shoot outside in the shade or bring your plate to a window with natural light.
Keep your background simple; close-up images of food with no distractions can look great.
b. Compose The Shot
Put some thought into composing your picture. A great food arrangement ensures that food is visually appealing and the accompaniments go well together when someone takes a bite. Try these tips
- Apply The Rule of Thirds to plating by placing the focal point of the dish (often a protein such as meat, fish, or poultry) to either the left or right side of the plate
- Arrange the accompanying items (Vegetables or fruits) to accentuate your focal point.
- Plate moist ingredients first and place other items beside them or on top of them to prevent them from running.
- Accentuate contrasting yet complementary textures and flavors by arranging them strategically on the plate.
c. Take Your Pics A Notch Above By Creative Food Styling
- Serve individual foods such as Ravioli and shrimp in odd numbers.
- Use complementary colors to create a bright colorful meal.
- Add green vegetables, herbs and fruits to add color and flavor to the dish.
- As you finish plating, take your food presentation a notch above with delicious sauces. Use a squeeze bottle and spoon or a plating wedge to create unique designs.
- Pair garnishes that complement the flavor of the meal and place them thoughtfully to add color or texture.
3. Clear Menu Item Names
Quirkiness aside, customers should be easily able to find what they are looking for. While fun, creative names of menu items may be all rage, the name of food items should also be intuitive! You can name food items to reflect your brand position, or use creative adjectives to highlight the item. Here are a few classic winners:
- Mac donald’s “Big Mac”: The name clearly highlights two things; the brand and the size of the burger.
- Loaded Bacon Cheddar Tots : Creative adjectives to draw attention to the distinguishing features of the dish.
- Piada Italian Street Food’s “THE FARMERS MARKET SALAD”: stresses the their locally sourced, sustainably farmed, organic ingredients.
- Wendy’s signature Dave’s triple: named after the founder
- California Steak Salad or NASHVILLE HOT CHICKEN SANDWICH: the names surmise the flavors and ingredients to expect in a dish simply by adding the name of a location.
4. Precise Descriptions
Descriptions should be short and to the point. Think of it like painting a picture of menu items using words. Work on bringing out the flavors of the dish by using descriptive adjectives. A great description can help you personalize your dishes and let your customers know what to expect. Focus on 3 main aspects of the dish:
- Origin of ingredients
“Fire-roasted Roma tomatoes” sound so much better than tomatoes.
Take a look at this example: “served with homemade marinara” / “served on homemade bread”. The menu stresses that all sauces and bread are prepared in-house from scratch using fresh ingredients.
“Calamari from Point Judith” consider how this example grabs the attention of the customers by talking about the source of the main ingredients of a dish.
5. Categorize Your Menu
Organizing your menu into categories makes it easier for your customers to find the desired dish. On most online ordering platforms, categories function like accordions or drop downs menus, which makes it easier to handle and read especially on smaller screens.
6. Make it Simple for Guests to Customize
No matter how perfect you feel your dish is, customers want what they want. They truly appreciate if you tweak a dish according to their specific requirement whether its adding extra cheese to their pizza or a choice of toppings. Make it simple for your guests to opt for substitutions and select add-ons and customization options. Provide your patrons with a quick and easy way to add special instructions to the menu items to accommodate for allergies.
Your staff is continuously engaging with your patrons and is well- aware of the customizations that your customers usually want in their order, so you would want to take their inputs when building your online ordering menu.
7. Create Upsell or Cross-sell Opportunities
When patrons dine at your restaurant, your staff takes care of suggesting wine pairings or sides that go well with the dish. You have boards drawing attention to new menu additions or the day’s specials. Your staff encourages patrons to try out new dishes. You are motivating your staff each morning to upsell and cross-sell menu items.
Your online ordering platform can easily do all that for you and more!
- Highlight your specials
- Feature sides that go-well with the selected menu item
- Suggest wine pairings
- Enable auto-suggestions based on customer’s previous orders
- Create sliders featuring popular items ordered by other customers
8. Order of Menu Items
The in-store menu is traditionally built in the order that customers have come to expect; broadly, appetizers followed by main course and desserts. The printed hard copy restricts your ability to move around things occasionally and figure out what works best.
The online ordering menu, on the other hand, is your playground. You can arrange and re-arrange it based on requirements and observations. Initially, you should go with the traditional order of categories that customers expect and then use data and insights to optimize the order of menu items.
- You can highlight the frequently ordered items by showcasing them at the top.
- Reduce visibility of lower margin items pushing them towards the bottom
- If you want to increase the sale of certain items, you can consider featuring them at the top or toggling them to the first position under their respective category.
The best way to go about this is to reorder your menu based on the insights that you draw from the online ordering data. Observe how the changes you made pan out to optimize your restaurant’s online ordering menu on an ongoing basis.
9. Leverage Data
Your online ordering platform provides you with rich data on your customers. You can use this information to optimize your online menu.
- Check the items that customers are frequently ordering together; You can use this information to create combo deals
- You can use the data to add/remove items
10. Keep Your Menu Up-To Date
Streamline the customer experience on your online ordering platform by updating the menu on a regular basis. Remove items that are no longer available, include new menu items or update changes in menu items wherever applicable.