How to Optimize Your Restaurant’s Online Menu for Upselling

By Lauren MillerSep 7th, 2021

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, where 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 four 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 to show off these items? A simple 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 promote specials you offer within the restaurant. For example, on ChowNow, you 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 in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.

Start by running through your menu and making 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.

Read more: See how the ChowNow team helped a client reorganize their menu and grow ticket sizes by 35 percent!

2. Write crave-worthy menu item descriptions.

Including appetizing descriptions is something that many restaurants forget to include online–after all, what else can you say about a cheeseburger? Turns out–quite a lot! It’s important to use descriptive words that focus on flavor, texture, or presentation, so suddenly, “a cheeseburger” becomes “a juicy patty smothered in melted cheddar, served on a fresh, toasted bun.” Remember to keep your descriptions short, however, since most customers will be viewing your menu on their phone screens with limited space. 

Take a look at this blog post for more menu description inspiration.

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

Customers in-house may be used to customizing their orders, adding bacon and jalapeños to your famous mac and cheese or making a combo meal out of your a la carte soups and sandwiches. Online, ChowNow can offer that same fun flexibility in the form of a curated modifier list, effectively automating the art of the upsell. More often than not, customers will choose to add that extra shake or dipping sauce, simply because it was suggested to them online.

Angie’s Pizza, a long-time ChowNow client, is generating $160 per month just from charging50 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!

Here's why you need a restaurant ordering app.

 4. Keep your menu simple and easy to navigate.

With ChowNow’s online ordering, you can make a list of popular add-ons and attach them to entire 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 upsell. 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. 

Bonus Tip: Work with online ordering experts.

Ensure that your restaurant is making the most of online ordering by working with an expert-led, commission-free online ordering provider. With ChowNow, you can supplement your existing ordering tools to reach new restaurant customers, or get a complete branded, commission-free ordering system. Either way, our experienced Restaurant Success Team and 24/7 customer support will have your back. Schedule a demo today.

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