Using Best Practices and Data to Improve Online Ordering Menus

by Alex Canter3 Min Read

Online ordering can be very profitable for restaurants, but customer expectations of online ordering differs greatly from in-house dining. Therefore, in order to succeed at online ordering, restaurants must carefully design their menus with the online ordering experience in mind.

Don’t lose the voice of your restaurant.

Designing menus for online ordering requires careful planning and ongoing optimization. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of best practices and data available that restaurants can use to improve their online ordering menus.

At Ordermark we help top brands including Waba Grill, Johnny Rockets, Sonic, and The Halal Guys, to grow profits by working with multiple online ordering services while streamlining operations.

Below are some best practices we’ve learned helping restaurants to design their menus for online ordering success.

Start with Menu Engineering Best Practices

Design your initial online ordering menu with best practices in mind. Once your initial draft is complete you can begin to optimize your menu with data.

Below are several best practices we’ve uncovered.

1. Identify items with low preparation and cook times to avoid long delivery times on the apps.

2. Include items that travel well. This may involve new packaging, preparation, and assembly procedures.

3. Consider cutting large menus down to your favorite items. Online ordering customers want convenience. They want to see your top items front and center. Since online ordering customers cannot consult your wait staff, they may be confused by too many options.

4. People eat with their eyes. Include professional photos of menu items. Photos are key to selling items on your online ordering menu, and can help to increase basket size.

5. Be sure that your kitchen is prepared to handle the volume of the items on your online ordering menu. This is a function of demand, but as you assess the number of orders you are processing per shift, be prepared to make adjustments to your online ordering menu to accommodate the capacity of your kitchen staff.

6. Don’t lose the voice of your restaurant. Online ordering is an extension of your brand and your reputation. If you must, find ways to adapt signature dishes to meet your online ordering customers’ expectations.

Use Data to Optimize Your Online Ordering Menu

There are multiple sources of data that you can use to improve your online ordering menu.

Online ordering is an extension of your brand and your reputation.

Below are some of the ways that we use data to refine our customers’ online ordering menus.

1. Analyze the sales volume of menu items across each of the online ordering services that you use. As with all data analysis, the more data you can analyze, the more accurate your assessments. Understanding which items are most and least popular will help you decide which items to add, remove, or rearrange on your menu. Remove unpopular items to eliminate distractions.

2. Using these larger data sets across multiple online ordering services, you can A/B test different prices for menu items to optimize pricing for volume and profitability. Bundling items together is great.

3. Identify problematic items that require contacting the customer for clarification or a refund. You may use this data to clarify, simplify, or remove problematic items.

Related, add modifiers to your online ordering menu when customers routinely seem to “add on” extras for particular items. Let them upsell themselves.

4. Use data that you collect from direct email marketing, digital advertising, and your own website activity to further optimize your online ordering menu. For example, if you include links to special promotions, coupons, or your own online ordering website in direct marketing outreach, you can measure which messages, which photos, and which menu items elicit the greatest response. You can use this information, combined with data on sales volume from online ordering services, to paint a clearer picture of your customer’s menu preferences.

Alex Canter

@getordermark | LinkedIn | Website | Email

Ordermark CEO Alex Canter is the fourth-generation owner and operator of Canter's Deli in Los Angeles. In 2013, he recognized the potential of online ordering and experimented at Canter’s, increasing revenue to what is now over 30 percent. Canter created Ordermark in January 2017, to help other restaurants.

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