9 tips for creating and optimising your online menuAuthor: Ben Luxon
Having the right tools is only part of the battle. If you are setting up online ordering, you also need to build an online presence and optimise your sales funnels and online menu. (The right tools, of course, will make both of these things easier and make for a better customer experience.)
In this article, we cover a range of important aspects that are vital to get right if you want to see growth in online sales, increases in repeat eaters, and improved profitability through increased AOV.
Your online menu should remain consistent with your restaurants brand. A well-wrought online menu should leave customers with at least a similar emotional response to your brand as they would have when they physically visit your restaurant.
2. Menu organisation
We make it easy for our customers to create well organised menus that are optimised for any device. But making sure your menu is properly categorised and the user experience flows nicely is an art.
Whatever online ordering system you use, make sure to place high-value items front and centre and encourage add-ons and additional purchases of sides when possible.
We are well beyond the days where your in-store menu needs a picture next to every dish. And though the occasional well-placed image can certainly help promote particular menu items many restaurants forgo pictures of food from their in-store menus completely, barring maybe a calligraphic flourish.
When it comes to online menus, however, pictures can increase your sales by 50% or more. They tantalise, they tease, they capture attention and encourage appetites. It is recommended to have high-quality pictures of, at the very least, your high-value dishes. It is worth remembering though that bad food photography will do the complete opposite and could negatively affect sales.
4. Highlight special dishes
If you have special dishes, such as seasonal ones or daily specials, then make sure to reserve a place for them and to push and promote those dishes. Additionally, if any of your food is made with regards to dietary restrictions make sure to clearly indicate this. For example, for vegan or vegetarian foods add the ‘V’ or ‘Veg’ symbol next to the dish name.
5. Promotion and special menus
Holiday periods have always been a good time for hospitality. People love to eat out (or take-out) for these special occasions. As such it’s a good idea to promote deals and special menus.
These promotions have a two-fold effect, firstly a once a year special makes the evening more memorable. Secondly, it helps relieve some of the increased pressure for your kitchen staff who will potentially be catering for large groups. And, there is no reason why you shouldn’t do a similar thing for your restaurant’s online menu as well as in-store menu during the holiday seasons.
6. Make sure the menu is right
You have to think about your kitchen staff again. Nothing is going to bog down a restaurant, especially during a busy service period as much as having to compile a large number of complex dishes for takeaway. Menu items should be one of two things: easy to prepare on the spot, such as by sautéeing or grilling, or easy to prepare ahead of time and reheat.
Additionally, some meals just aren’t fit for take-out. They might take a long time to prepare, which when added to the delivery time could be an issue for the customer, and secondly, they might not travel well.
Because of this your online menu won’t necessarily be the same as your in-store menu. Think carefully about what items you do include on your online menu and make sure that this is manageable by staff and will get to the customer quickly, still warm and presentable.
7. No item is set in stone
Menus need to evolve over time in a constant state of refinement. Drop under-performing items and introduce new items over time.
For your online menu, it’s no different. Each item on the menu should sell and be profitable when they do. For example, you might find that bread starters sell well in the restaurant but not for take-out. In which case cut it from the menu. Or you might find that your fish dish keeps getting to the customer cold when delivered. Alternatively, if a customer favourite doesn’t make enough of a margin or you find with delivery costs that the item is making you a loss, then again don’t be afraid to cut it from the menu or replace it.
8. Reduce steps to checkout
This is an item from the playbook of online retail. After many years of study, it’s been found that there is a percentage of people that drop off every time they click to a new page. Each step which isn’t then completing the order and paying has an inherent risk that they will leave the site.
If the online ordering process is too long, if they have to heroically wade through your online menu you will see higher cart abandonment than if it’s a simple 3 click process.
A couple of cart abandonment stats:
- 34% of customers will walk away from a purchase if there isn’t a guest checkout option. (Source)
- 26% of shoppers will leave if the checkout process is too complicated. (Source)
While the above stats are for retail, it’s a safe bet to assume if your restaurant’s checkout process is unnecessarily convoluted you will lose customers.
9. Try it out yourself
Finally, when you’re done creating your menu try it out yourself from the perspective of a customer. This will help highlight any particular pain points or potential opportunities for improvement.
If it’s too long, think about what you could remove from it. Make sure you are avoiding any duplicates – remember with online menus you can use the add-ons and choices to improve the customer experience and allow them to tailor their dishes to their tastes and dietary requirements.
When it comes to completing the order have you taken all the opportunities available to encourage upsells and side orders?
It’s also worth having one or two other people run through the menu to see if they have any suggestions for optimising. As a final test, compare your online menu to your competitors.
With COVID-19 still affecting businesses in the hospitality industry around the world, it’s more important than ever to get your online menu right. However, there are a few universal truths that remain the same for both online and offline restaurant activity. The first is that at the end of the day the food that matters most. The second is that your business activity around your food such as your online marketing and your FoH staff behaviour needs to be coordinated and well-executed.
Done right, your online menu and online ordering service will help build your restaurant’s brand presence online as well as encourage people to eat more frequently and ultimately increase your restaurant’s overall profitability.
Other articles you might be interested in
In March, Starbucks announced it is doubling down on mobile ordering by opening its first...
It’s no secret that we love to go online (or, “on-the-line” as my Nanna says). We’re doing it more...