The Digital Difference:
Why the Digital Menu Matters 

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The digital age has made everything available at the tap of a finger. So, if you’re not keeping up with technology, you’re falling behind. Consumers demand the convenience of technology – and the customer experience, more often than not, is initially occurring in the digital world. This trend now includes restaurant menus. Although traditional physical menus are still an important part of a customer’s dine-in experience, restaurants can no longer afford to ignore their menu’s digital presence – and the significant impact it can have on the business.

94% of customers will choose what they are going to eat based on the restaurant’s online presence.

Online menus are not only becoming more common; they’re becoming critical to a restaurant’s success. A well-developed digital menu provides restaurateurs the power to not only impact the customer experience outside the restaurant, but to also significantly impact the potential revenue it can create. Ninety-four percent of customers will choose what they are going to eat based on the restaurant’s online presence – which includes the menu, reviews and branding, on their own website and across the web. This dining decision process happens quickly, so it’s important that restaurants are strategic about how they attract diners and keep them engaged. Statistically speaking, a restaurant has about 15 seconds to get a diner’s attention on its website or menu before that diner moves on. According to David Zheng of The Daily Egg, “Basically, if you haven’t generated interest in 15 seconds, then you probably aren’t going to.”

Having an easy-to-navigate online restaurant menu that is descriptive, but concise, will determine if that customer takes the time to order from a restaurant or moves on to somewhere else. A well-executed online menu will draw diners in and ultimately influence that diner’s purchase behavior – cha-ching!

One of the biggest mistakes restaurants make is not investing the same amount of time and energy into their online presence as their brick-and-mortar space. Listed below are three crucial advantages of a digital menu that can help any restaurant compete in a mobile-first world:

I. Consumers can share your online menu anywhere, anytime

One of the greatest features of an online menu is that it can be shared and promoted with just one click. Menus shared on social media platforms and search engines increase a restaurant’s digital footprint. Effective execution can strengthen a restaurant’s brand and increase the restaurant’s customer base by exposing it to more potential customers – and engaging with past customers. Neglecting the online menu can mean missing out on a group of customers set to increase 12% every year over the next five years.

II. Update your digital menu in real time

Have a new special or seasonal item? With a digital menu, those items can easily be added in real time. In contrast, a new batch of printed menus can take days to produce. Online menus also allow for the immediate removal of unavailable items, which sets the proper expectations for customers – and saves the restaurant staff from spending time explaining the menu updates and disappointing customers. Online menus can be updated in real time, anytime, and changes are then reflected across all platforms instantaneously, keeping customers well-informed and connected with the restaurant.

III. Track success with data-driven analytics

Make your menu work harder with real-time analytics from your restaurant’s online menu. Virtual menus, particularly those through an online food ordering system, can track both customer engagement and behavior. This includes specific category sales, frequent customer add-ons or upsells, peak customer purchase time and consumer trends.

The insights from this data allow a restaurant to find ways to improve sales performance, with the goal of increasing revenue through simple menu adjustments. By analyzing menu patterns, your restaurant’s online food ordering system will become as vital to your operation as the food. Note that some online ordering systems offer the ability to analyze menu data points, while others do not – so it is important to know this before you partner with an online food ordering system.

If you want to attract new customers and keep existing consumers returning to your restaurant, then optimizing your online menu is a must. Without it, you’re significantly limiting the potential of your restaurant’s online presence – and thus, that of your business.

UP NEXT: Look out for our next installment of this series, where we’ll talk about specifics changes you can make to your digital menu NOW to start having an impact on your bottom line.

About ChowNow: ChowNow powers an online food ordering system as part of CHECKTM Business Tools. ChowNow allows customers to place orders directly from a restaurant's website, Facebook page, Instagram profile and custom-built mobile apps – commission-free. Learn more about ChowNow by visiting online ordering in CHECKTM Business Tools.