Food culture across the world is changing. People are eating out more than ever, particularly young people, and in the US, for the first time in history, spending on eating out has exceeded spending on groceries. Restaurants rejoice! The customers are coming, welcome to the Gastronomic Youthquake!
Well, people are indeed eating out more than ever before, but merely being a restaurant is not enough to win the hearts and hard-earned pay of this massive market. Today's patrons are fussier and harder than ever to connect with, and with a slew of new restaurants hitting the Dubai scene every month, competition is fierce, and the risk of missing the mark is real.
In today's fast-moving and competitive market, restaurants need to use all the available tools at its disposal to maximise their opportunities, especially when it comes to digital.
Enter the Restaurant Menu Revamp
The humble restaurant menu has been around for centuries, and while importance has long been placed on great design, beautiful typography and quality menu items, very little has changed to enhance menus overall, even though the relevant technology has been around for some time.
That is, until now.
Technology has penetrated all spheres of life, so it was only a matter of time before the menu finally came into the spotlight, the next tool ready for technical disruption. What was once a simple paper list designed to make ordering easier, is now an online marketing asset that gives customers access to mouthwatering images, nutritional information, search and filter functionality and so on, all from their smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.
In this period of change, it's the restaurant that innovates, both with their offering and how they present it, that will succeed.
Here are nine ways that an online digital menu can serve as a restaurant's most significant marketing asset:
1. Putting Food First
The food is the star of the restaurant and should be the star of the marketing. Moving a menu online enables this to be amplified, making the dishes the heroes of the online marketing material. Exposing consumers to the selection from wherever they are and stimulating their senses with a visual and descriptive menu will help drive footfall to the venue.
2. Engaging the Senses
It's a well-known fact that people eat with their eyes. Seeing a dish that looks delicious, stimulates the senses and increases appetite. Digital menus allow restaurants to add images and videos alongside the descriptions, thereby boosting their promotion and giving customers a chance to (visually) try before they buy, whether they're looking at the menu from within the venue, in a taxi while on route or at home before deciding where to go.
3. Online Visibility
Taking the menu beyond the table and onto the web means that it becomes online content for customers to search for, discover and engage with and tantalise their tastebuds long before they get to the venue. As the most online searched industry by consumers, restaurants that publish their menus to the web tap into 80%+ of the worlds internet users to show off their goods and drastically boost their visibility.
4. Endless Information
More customers than ever are conscious about what they eat, and more people are searching for this information online to help them decide whether or not to visit a venue. Supplying FAQs, nutritional information, health information, sustainability information etc. on an online menu, helps to market dishes and make them more relevant to the people looking specifically for what you've got to offer. Online menus don't have the space limitations of traditional menus, meaning restaurants can give the customer all the information they want, without having to whack a book on the table.
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5. Socially Sharable
Everything on the internet these days is designed to be shared, and food is no exception. People connect by sharing. When we love a restaurant or a dish, it makes us feel good to share this with others. Making the process as easy as possible is the simplest way to boost exposure and brand awareness. Online menus make it super easy to share dishes on social media, email, WhatsApp, etc. giving restaurants more opportunities to be found.
6. Linkable Dishes
Having the menu online enables restaurants to directly link to the dishes they are promoting in their marketing and hence drive traffic to their site. For example, if a particular dish is being promoted on Instagram or Facebook, the ad can be linked directly to that dish, which in turn exposes the rest of the menu. You can see this online example.
7. Connects with other Platforms
It's not only Google and search engines that customers turn to when seeking out the best place for a nice meal. There are now a host of popular platforms trusted to deliver to consumers the restaurant options most relevant to them. Online menus such as Redro can be linked to from platforms such as Zomato, TripAdvisor, Facebook, etc. so that the same visual and descriptive menu is accessible no matter where the customer discovers the restaurant.
8. Data Capture
Competition is fierce in the restaurant sector; therefore gathering data on customers is a critical step to being able to keep in touch, stay front of mind, and encourage the customer to come back. With an online digital menu, data capture can be integrated into the ordering experience, with customers asked to register directly on the menu to take advantage of benefits such as loyalty, and special offers. They can also opt to sign up for a newsletter and special events, and the restaurant can conduct polls, NPS, surveys and gather feedback, all from the menu.
9. Environmentally Friendly
Today's consumers care more than ever about supporting environmentally conscious businesses. Printing paper menus that need to be changed as updates are required is not sustainable and doesn't help the image of the restaurant. Particularly as Dubai moves ahead with the Smart City Initiative and the drive to go paperless, moving the menu online allows restaurants to do their bit for the planet and gives them something to shout about.
In a saturated industry like hospitality, restaurants need to be agile to gain a competitive advantage. An online digital menu gives restaurants this edge by allowing them to increase their online marketing power. Customers find what they're searching for; mouthwatering images, nutritional information, and up to the minute menu options, and restaurants increase their brand awareness, discoverability and footfall to their venue.