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The digital age has brought with it many solutions and services which businesses can adopt if they wish to grow, flourish and keep up with customer expectations.
One facet of the ongoing digital revolution which has particular relevance to organizations operating in the hospitality sector is the rise of the digital menu. So is this something worth investing in, and what makes it appealing to restaurants and food businesses of all shapes and sizes?
A digital menu is actually an intriguing and varied beast, rather than some fixed thing that adheres to a single definition.
It could be a physical screen in your restaurant, bar, or coffee shop that lets customers know what’s available when they visit. It could be an online representation of your menu which is used to entice prospective customers to visit in the first place when they find your website. It could be something you share on social media for much the same reason. It could even be all of these things at once, depending on how you deploy it.
The ease of use
First and foremost, investing in a digital menu solution makes sense because it is very easy to get up and running with the ready-made solutions that are available at the moment.
Take the digital beer menu from Untappd, for example. It is ideal for bars, pubs, and brewery taprooms that have an ever-changing menu of drinks available, with the need for real-time updates to be rolled out in order to keep customers informed.
This platform allows for menus to be set up quickly, using a database of thousands of products that are relevant to the drinks market so that there is no need to enter details manually. And, of course, it makes changing menu items on the fly a breeze, with a straightforward interface meaning that there is no steep learning curve to contend with.
We have already touched on the advantages that digital menus offer over their traditional counterparts in terms of their ability to appear on multiple platforms, but it is worth exploring this a little further.
The digital approach means that item changes can be rolled out instantaneously across not only in-house displays but also to your web and social presences in the same moment.
This flexibility to make adjustments that are consistent across the board is important from a customer satisfaction perspective. It means that people will not be turning up at your restaurant and expecting to get their favorite dish or drink, only to find that it is no longer offered or that it has sold out; instead, they will know in advance and can adjust their expectations accordingly.
If you are tired of having to deal with unfair online reviews from disgruntled customers, this could clearly be a godsend.
The safety & sustainability
Aside from the practical perks of digital menus, businesses can also embrace the two-pronged benefits of safety and sustainability that going digital brings with it.
First, there is the safety aspect; in a post-pandemic era, people will appreciate the option to use a menu that is completely contactless and not one which has been passed around by hundreds of other guests. Being able to check it out on their smartphone is also seriously convenient, and of course, does not preclude you from also offering print menus if requested.
Next, there’s the sustainability angle; printed menus use up precious resources and have a limited shelf life since when changes are made, they need to be replaced regardless of their condition. Digital menus, meanwhile, can be used infinitely and changed in just a few clicks.
Lastly, good digital menu platforms can justify any upfront and ongoing investment required on your part by providing in-depth analytics of how well particular items are performing.
Delving into the data in this way will help you to see which dishes are a hit, which are falling short, and which of your promotional deals is proving popular with customers.
All of this comes together to demonstrate that digital menus give you a competitive advantage, and so they should definitely be considered if you are in the food biz.