3 Reasons Why Your Online Menu Is Essential to Your Success

Sep 5, 2019

Why Your Online Menu Is Essential to Your Restaurant's Success

This article was updated in December 2021.

Over the last two years in the restaurant industry, we have all seen the resurgence of the digital online menu–from QR codes on tables, to branded restaurant mobile apps, to enhanced takeout and delivery offerings.

If your restaurant isn’t keeping up with technology, there’s a good chance that you may actually be falling behind. Seventy-nine percent of consumers agree that technology improves their restaurant experience, and more than a third say that the availability of technology would make them choose one restaurant over another. The value of technology includes restaurant menus: Although traditional physical menus are still an important part of a customer’s dine-in experience, you can no longer afford to ignore your restaurant’s online menu—and the significant impact it can have on your business.

There are numerous ways to get your restaurant menu online and in front of customers. You may design your website with a branded online ordering solution, a PDF that you upload, or a creative layout on a dedicated page, or—at the very least—a photo of your real-life menu that you upload to social media. Let’s take a look at how and why your online menu affects your restaurant’s success.

Why do online menus matter?

Online menus are not only becoming more common—they’re becoming critical to your restaurant’s success. A well-developed digital menu provides you with the power to strengthen customer experience outside of your restaurant and to grow revenue once your guests interact with your brand.

Ninety-four percent of consumers report that their dining decisions are influenced by a restaurant’s online presence, and customers note that a restaurant’s menu is the number one factor when selecting somewhere to eat for the first time. This dining decision process happens quickly, so it’s important that your restaurant is strategic about how you attract diners and keep them engaged.

When customers can easily see your menu online, it acts as an advertisement for your restaurant. When they can interact with it—like they can when your menu is part of your online ordering solution—it becomes a digital storefront that generates revenue.

Find the best online ordering system for your restaurant.

An online menu that’s easy to navigate, descriptive, and concise will determine if your guests take the time to order or move on to another establishment. A well-executed digital menu will draw customers in and ultimately influence their purchasing behavior—cha-ching!

One of the biggest mistakes your restaurant can make is not investing the same amount of time and energy into your online presence as you do in your brick-and-mortar space. Here are three crucial advantages of a digital menu that will help your restaurant compete in a mobile-first world.

1. Customers can share your online menu anywhere, anytime.

One of the greatest features of an online menu is that it you can share and promote it with just one click. It’s easy to post your menu on social media platforms and search engines to broaden your digital footprint. If you use a branded online ordering system like ChowNow, customers can see your menu and order takeout from you via Yelp, Google Maps, Google Search, and even Google Assistant.

You’ll expose your brand and menu to more potential customers—and engage with guests who’ve already dined with you. Neglecting your online menu can mean missing out on a group of customers set to increase 12% every year over the next five years.

2. It’s easy to update your digital menu in real-time.

Have a new special, seasonal item, or promo you want to offer? With a digital menu, especially one powered by your online ordering system, you can easily add these items whenever you want. Printed menus, meanwhile, take time and money to update.

If you’re updating your menu through your online ordering system, you can immediately remove unavailable items, which sets the proper expectations for customers. This saves your staff from spending time explaining menu updates and disappointing guests. You can update your menu anytime, and changes will be reflected across all platforms instantaneously, keeping customers well-informed and connected with your restaurant.

See how else online ordering will help your restaurant by reading our ebook, “The 6 Ways Online Ordering Will Transform Your Restaurant’s Efficiency.”

Read the eBook

3. You can track your menu’s performance and then optimize it.

Make your menu work harder with analytics. Online menus, particularly ones that are operated through an online food ordering system, can track both customer engagement and behavior. This includes information about specific category sales, frequent customer add-ons or upsells, peak customer purchase time, and consumer trends. With this data, your restaurant can boost revenue through simple menu adjustments, like itemizing and charging for popular modifications, placing your most profitable items near the top, and so on.

Note that some online ordering systems offer the ability to analyze menu data points, while others do not. It’s important to do some research before you partner with a vendor.

Get the full story about the value and applications of restaurant customer data. Read our ebook, “Why Customer Data Is Critical to Your Restaurant’s Success.”

Read the eBook

If you want to attract new customers and keep existing consumers returning to your restaurant, then optimizing your online menu is a must. ChowNow makes it easy by building your restaurant your very own online ordering system, maximizing your menu’s value with free consulting, and turning your digital presence into a major source of revenue.

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