How To Build & Optimise a Winning Digital Menu (The Ultimate Guide for Restaurants & Hotels)

Discover 5 ways you can effectively build and optimise your Digital Menu to boost revenue and enhance the customer experience in your hospitality business.

The menu is at the heart of every food and beverage establishment. And in today’s tech-driven world, a digital menu has become a must-have tool for hospitality businesses. But are you optimising your online ordering solution to its full potential to drive revenue growth in your restaurant or hotel?

In this guide, we will show you 5 ways you can take your digital menu to the next level and transform it into a revenue-boosting tool that not only elevates the customer’s dining experience, but also drives business growth.

1. Organisation

2. Descriptions

3. Images

4. Labelling

5. Upselling

Why are restaurants switching from traditional to digital menus?

Even beyond the pandemic, consumers crave the convenience of accessing menus online and placing orders and payments through their smartphones – to avoid long queues, unnecessary wait times, and order miscommunications. This continuing demand for online food ordering has driven hospitality businesses towards new digital solutions to keep up with the evolving expectations of their customers. According to Hospitality Tech, almost 90% of smartphone users are predicted to be using QR codes today.

Moving away from physical paper menus to contactless ordering has also helped many hospitality establishments save costs and overcome operational challenges. Digital menus offer more versatility, allowing restaurants to easily update their menus in real-time, instantly adding new menu items or quickly removing out-of-stock dishes. It also eliminates the need for manual order taking, which streamlines the order and payment process and gives staff more time to focus on customer service and order fulfilment.

Why is it important to optimise your digital menu?

A fully optimised online ordering platform sets the foundation for the recipe of success in your restaurant or hotel, with the potential to significantly boost revenue by up to 30% or more. You can use your digital menu to not only showcase your offerings, but also simplify and enrich the customer’s ordering process. It’s important to have the right mobile ordering solution that allows you to enhance your menu, making sure the best qualities shine through.

On the other hand, an unoptimised digital menu can have a detrimental effect on your business. If your online menu is overwhelming with low-quality images and inconsistencies, it can leave a negative mark on your customer's dining experience.

5 ways to build & optimise your digital menu:

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1. Structured Menu: Categorise & Organise

An online menu gives you more control over what the customer casts their eye on. So take advantage of having this digital element and organise your menu to deliver a seamless menu browsing experience for your customers. Make it as easy as possible for customers to find what they’re searching for and nudge them in the right direction – towards the checkout basket!

Let's show you how...

organised digital menu

Menu Organisation Checklist

  • Group similar items together and categorise them for easy filtering. 
  • Use subcategories to your advantage if you have an extensive selection of items (for example, if you offer lots of different types of drinks, split them into further subcategories for spirits, beer, wine, hot beverages, milkshakes, cocktails etc.)
  • Strategically position popular items, categories, and high-value items in prominent areas across your menu.
  • Employ a consistent naming convention for menu items to make it as easy as possible for customers to understand.
  • Spotlight your bestselling items using text such as 'customer favourite', 'top pick', or 'highly recommended'. 
  • Create a dedicated promotions section to emphasise any attractive offers or meal deals.

Top Tip: Utilise search analytics to reorganise your menu! Tap into your platform's data insights to discover what your customers are searching for. Use this information about their desires and preferences to cleverly optimise and restructure your digital menu throughout the year.

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2. Intriguing Descriptions: Tempt The Tastebuds

Write enticing product descriptions that will catch your customer's eye and drive more sales for your restaurant! Mastering the art of online menu descriptions can truly transform your business. In fact, 87% of diners consider menu descriptions to be a crucial decision-making factor when ordering, according to the National Restaurant Association. Ensure you provide your customers with all the information they need to help them make their decision quickly – especially if images are not available.

enticing online menu description

Menu Description Checklist

  • Ensure the key ingredients of each dish are listed in the description. Include any influential factors, such as organic or locally sourced ingredients.
  • Include any significant details about how the dish is prepared or cooked.
  • Emphasise any relevant cultural origins or traditions to set your brand apart and instil authenticity.
  • Describe the flavours, textures and aromas using descriptive sensory words that will make your customers hungry and eager to indulge.
  • Ensure your descriptions represent your brand’s unique tone of voice and identity. Don’t copy from other sources; stand out with originality.
  • If your online menu has multiple language variations, don't forget to cross-check your product descriptions.
  • Keep your descriptions as short and concise as possible, only highlighting the most important elements.
  • Regularly optimise your descriptions to reflect seasonal changes and keep your menu fresh and exciting.
  • Finally, double-check for any spelling mistakes or errors!

Top Tip: Transform your menu in a matter of minutes and save valuable time by using an AI chatbot tool, such as ChatGPT, to assist in writing your descriptions. Try prompts such as “Please write an enticing menu description for a Mushroom Risotto. List the key ingredients using words that describe the flavours, aromas and textures. Keep it simple and under 30 words.”

Let us know how you get on!

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3. Inviting Visuals: Use High-Quality Images

Say goodbye to the expenses of printing menus with images or presenting a menu with no visual representation at all! Instead, embrace the digital benefits of having a mobile ordering platform by adding images to every menu item and category online. Many studies reveal that adding food images to online menus improves the conversion rate and boosts sales. This shows that menu images can be a powerful marketing tool, helping customers visualise your dishes better – supporting your menu’s descriptions. So eliminate any uncertainty for customers and enhance their overall dining experience with images.

high quality and inviting digital menu images

Menu Image Checklist

  • Use high-quality imagery captured by a professional photographer to showcase your dish’s finest features.
  • Make sure your visuals reflect the true portion size of the dish to minimise food waste and set accurate expectations for your customers.
  • Choose a clean and uncluttered background in your establishment that allows the dish to be the main focus of the image.
  • Be consistent with your image formatting and style for a polished and cohesive appearance across your digital menu.
  • Keep your images up to date to reflect any changes made to the dishes, ensuring accuracy and freshness.

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4. Transparent Labelling: Highlight Dietary Information

In many countries, hospitality businesses are now legally obligated to display certain allergens and nutritional information prominently on their menus. But thanks to the digital menu platform, compliance with these regulations has become easier for food and beverage managers to manage. An online menu allows restaurants to easily add these labels and display them clearly. Customers can also filter online by their own dietary requirements and make better-informed decisions about their food choices.

clear allergen information on digital menu

Menu Labelling Checklist

Allergen Information:
  • With an increasing presence of allergies and intolerances across the world, it is more important than ever to keep your menu data updated, covering common allergens such as gluten, soya, nuts and milk. 
Dietary Requirements:
  • Demonstrate your menu's commitment to accommodating diverse dietary preferences by clearly denoting the different options you offer, including vegetarian, vegan, halal and kosher. Ensure all of your products are correctly marked as V or VE. 
Nutritional Information:
  • Provide nutritional details, such as calorie information, to empower your customers to make health-conscious choices and improve their overall dining experience.

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5. Effective Upselling: Customise Modifiers & Related Products

If implemented well, digital upsells can positively impact your customer's ordering experience and increase your average order value by up to 30% or more. Compared to the traditional in-person method, digital upsells offer a less intrusive and personalised approach – prompting customers with additional options at the right time in their ordering process. This tactic is automatic and timely, which saves your food and beverage staff valuable time. The visual appeal of the online menu further reinforces the upsell proposition and entices customers to explore additional options in their own time.

clever digital menu upselling

Digital Upselling Checklist

  • Modifiers are customisable options or add-ons that allow customers to tailor their meals and enhance their ordering experience. Modifiers can include extra toppings, sauces, dressings, side dishes, drinks, or preparation preferences.
  • Digital Menu Example: When a customer orders a burger, give them the choice to add additional toppings, such as extra cheese or bacon. Or when ordering a salad, you could include various salad dressing options to choose from, with an additional upgrade to extra halloumi. 
Related Products:
  • Related products are additional items that perfectly complement the customer’s current selection in their basket. These upsell suggestions are presented to the customer at the checkout stage as a “you may also like” feature.
  • Digital Menu Example: If a customer chooses a creamy pasta dish, you might prompt them at checkout with freshly made garlic bread for a delightful Italian dining experience. Or perhaps the customer has only selected a main dish, so you could present them with a starter option that perfectly accompaniments their main.

Top Tip: Ensure that each modifier item is linked to its corresponding condiment POS code for accurate order processing.

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Ready to start building and optimising your digital menu?

Your online menu is a dynamic business tool that not only showcases your dishes, but also guides customers to make informed choices in your restaurant or hotel. Building and optimising a winning digital menu can significantly impact your business growth. By leveraging the power of an online ordering platform and catering it to your customer's preferences, you can drive revenue, enhance the customer experience, and stay ahead in today's competitive hospitality industry.

At wi-Q, we provide hospitality businesses with an innovative mobile ordering solution that allows you to address all the crucial aspects mentioned in this article. Request a wi-Q demo to find out how we can help you grow your business.



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