Restaurant Upselling Tips for Online Ordering | ChowNow
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How to Optimize Your Restaurant’s Online Menu for Upselling

February 7th, 2018 Online Ordering System Written by Lauren Miller

Restaurant upselling

Online ordering has opened up a new world of restaurant upselling and optimization possibilities that reach far beyond the capabilities of the paper menu format we all know and love. Physical, in-house restaurant menus generally thrive on simplicity and easy design. Your in-house goal is to make sure they can easily navigate through your menu in order to find their perfect dish. The same goal applies with online ordering, plus you have the added benefit of including upsells and creating awareness of add ons, extras, and options.  When a menu is properly optimized, online customers take advantage of this and end up ordering—and spending—more.

Below are the 4 tips and tricks we recommend to optimize your online menu for restaurant upselling.


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How to Optimize Your Online Menu for Restaurant Upselling

1. Organize your menu to highlight your most profitable items.

Every restaurant has items that are considered the “bread and butter” of restaurant profits. Why not organize your menu in order to highlight these items? A great tip to increase ticket sales is to move your most popular and profitable items to the top of your menu so they are viewed first.

You can even use this technique to push specials you offer within the restaurant. For example, ChowNow can move your lunch specials to the top of your menu during lunchtime or add a Super Bowl special to the top of your menu to push sales leading up to the Super Bowl.

A great way to get this started is to run through your menu and make a list of both your most popular and profitable items. Once you have a list, you can arrange your menu and move your listed items to the top of your menu.

2. Write crave-worthy menu item descriptions.

Restaurant Upselling

Creating appetizing descriptions is an art and can make or break your menu. It’s important to use descriptive words while leaving out excess information. The biggest mistakes I see are too many exclamation points and too many sentences that are not about the actual food. Your customers want to know what makes each dish special, so your description should focus on selling your creation.

3. Leverage add-ons to maximize online ordering restaurant upselling.

Customers in-house may not know that they can add bacon and jalapeños to your famous mac and cheese or that they can make a meal out of your a la carte sandwiches. With online ordering, ChowNow can include your secret (or not so secret) add ons and upsells on the item page without overwhelming your customers, effectively automating the art of the upsell. More often than not customers will choose to add that extra shake or dipping sauce that they may have otherwise not known about.

Here's why you need a restaurant ordering app.

Angie’s Pizza, a long-time ChowNow client, is generating $160 per month just from charging 50 cents extra for sauce! This pays for their ChowNow service (and then some), which has increased Angie’s Pizza’s average ticket size from $22 to $31 since implementing online ordering. After 1 year of having online ordering, over, roughly 25-30% of Angie’s Pizza’s revenue is generated online.

Some of the best modifications you can include on menu items are frequent add ons like desserts, drinks, sides, milkshakes, or even appetizers. By making the first item your customer clicks on a one stop shop, they will be more likely to add extras to their order. You can always count on a hungry customer to add more to their order!

 4. Keep your menu simple and easy to navigate.

With online ordering we can make a list of popular add-ons and attach them to full categories such as all sandwiches or all entrees (think extra dressings on salads or additional toppings on pizza). The result is simple and upsell-driven. Additionally, remember that online ordering includes a special instructions field that makes it easy for your customers to customize their meal, so there’s no need to crowd an item with unnecessary add ons or customization that don’t affect price. Options to remove ingredients or add condiments can easily be requested through special instructions.

Substitutions can also be an asset that will help you up-sell. Do you have a salad that comes with chicken, but customers like to substitute salmon for an extra $4? If it’s added as an option on the item then you will notice a spike in the frequency it’s ordered. Substitution mods can be tricky, but can easily be worked out with a Restaurant Success Manager if you choose to sign up for ChowNow (if you haven’t already).


73% of consumers order food online. Make sure your restaurant is keeping up—and growing profits—with commission-free online ordering from ChowNow. Schedule a demo today.

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Lauren Miller

Lauren manages the Menu Team at ChowNow and loves good design as well as great food. She spends her weekends "urban hiking" through cities and trying new healthy restaurants in Los Angeles.
Lauren Miller

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