The key benefits of having a digital menu

May 06, 2021 5 min read

Digital menus and screens of all kinds, from digital signage to online ordering, are flooding the food & drink sector with opportunities to change how menus are presented. And, two out of five Brits would use technology to optimise their dining experience, according to Bookatable’s quarterly dining trends report.

Customers are clearly engaged with digital ordering, so don’t miss this chance to grow your revenue stream. ‘Restaurant digital orders have grown at an average annual rate of 23 percent since 2013 and will triple in volume by the end of 2020, and the majority of digital orders, 6 out of 10, are by mobile apps.’

A digital menu is an interface that allows customers to browse menu items in a way that is designed as a dedicated online user experience. It’s more than just your paper menu as a PDF on your website. And, it’s not to be confused with digital menu boards, otherwise known as ‘digital signage’. These are on-screen, on-location menus that – although not usually interactive – do allow you to display information in a different way.

So, how can you use a digital menu to benefit your customers and your business?

1. Give customers value-added information

Vegan? Gluten-free? No problem. A digital menu with segmentation or a filter function will give you the chance to display only those items that your customers can enjoy.

You can’t put all your ingredients on a traditional menu without sacrificing design. But, with a digital menu, you can give customers nutritional information, such as fat or salt content, as well as an ingredient list, so they will be able to make informed choices. Just tidy it all away in a drop-down menu or pop-up. Done.

In fact, with that added real-estate, why not go a step further?

Studies, like this one from Elsevier, have found our brains respond extremely positively to images of food. Using an online menu, give customers a sneak peek of their meal to help them decide. And, more importantly, it gives them peace of mind that their order is safe. In the wake of some serious allergen scares, this is vital.

Once you have a digital menu, you can make iterative improvements to stand out in a competitive landscape and to provide a better customer experience. Add features like videos or other content, which can reduce perceived wait times and establishing a strong brand image. 81 percent of businesses in 2019 use video as a marketing tool to attract new customers and build loyalty.

2.  Create a personalised experience

If your wine list look like it belongs on the shelf at Waterstones, it makes sense to have some way to filter preferences (red, Merlot, notes of tobacco) or search specifics. A digital menu is the only basis on which you can offer that functionality. Then, you can automate around those preferences and start to personalise your menu for repeat customers.

In Segment’s study of over 1000 consumers, nearly half of respondents say that they will likely become repeat buyers after a personalised shopping experience with a particular company, and they are more likely to spend more, as well.

For returning customers, digital menus with personalisation features make choices quick and easy. For your business, this means they are more likely to come back time and again. After all, you know their order.

3.  Promote deals and offers

57 percent of consumers are willing to share personal data in exchange for personalised offers or discounts, according to Salesforce. If you can build personalisation into your digital menu, then you can start to target customers on an individual basis with deals tailored for them.

A digital menu is the perfect platform to highlight deals or add-ons. With an interactive menu, people will browse like they’re shopping on Amazon, clicking on whatever suggested items catch their eye. We all love a good deal, it turns out. One in four customer visits to quick-service restaurants are because of a deal or bundled offer, says Business Insider.

This is an opportunity to do your bit for the environment, too. 1.9 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK every year. When you want to sell more of a certain dish or drink that hasn’t been as popular, then you might put it at the top of the menu for a day and avoid that potential food waste.

4.  Integrate with other systems

Via a digital menu, you can let people know what has limited availability, or simply remove unavailable items entirely. And, by integrating that software with your inventory management systems, then this process could even be automated, saving you and your staff time.

When you invest in digital menu software with an ordering capability that connects to your other restaurant tech, you can start to gather data about how your customers like to shop. Connect your menu to loyalty programs so that you can provide rewards based on ordering behaviour. Or, use data to build out promotions and even marketing campaigns.

People are more willing to use screens to do their ordering these days, with more than half of those asked in PYMNTS’ mobile order survey saying they’d rather not order with an employee at a QSR. Of course, when dining out or grabbing a coffee on the go, the screen of choice for your customers is going to be mobile. So, you might want to prioritise finding a mobile menu system that works with your technology stack.

5.  Self-service Order and Pay

Orders placed via smartphone will make up 10 percent of all quick service restaurant sales by 2020, says Business Insider. Onvi’s mobile Order and Pay solution integrates both self-service ordering and payments with your POS system. If you really want to make the most of a digital menu, check out how it works.