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As at-home diners are increasingly feeling cooking fatigue, meal delivery has become a popular alternative to dining out. A recent survey found that people are ordering takeout about twice a week, with 52 percent feeling unsafe dining inside, at this moment.
As social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic encourages more people to stay at home, adapting your food and drinks offerings to accommodate pickup and delivery can attract more customers and help open up a new revenue stream.
Here are some ways that you can easily adapt your restaurant menu to cater to takeout and delivery.
14 ways to optimize your menu for takeaway
Focus on the visual appeal
When customers dine in, they can smell and see your food as it swings through the kitchen doors to neighboring tables. For online ordering, you don’t have this sales tool, so you need to bring your menu to life digitally and tempt customers with eye-catching food photography.
Aim to share two to three high-quality images of each menu item and ensure your dishes closely resemble these when they’re delivered to customers.
Write clear, compelling descriptions
Online customers can’t question your waiters and waitresses as they can in your restaurant, so write clear descriptions of your dishes. List every ingredient, alongside food restrictions and allergy warnings, so that customers feel confident about placing their orders.
Use food categories
Make it easy for your customers to find what they’re looking for. Clearly divide your menu into starters, mains, desserts, sides, and drinks. Consider adding extra categories for food types, such as meat, fish, and vegetarian, to signal you can accommodate a broad range of diners.
Make your menu mobile-friendly
Consumers are increasingly shopping and ordering from mobile devices, so it’s crucial your menu is easy to peruse on a smaller screen. This includes keeping text concise and using short, simple wording; ensuring images maintain their quality on small screens; making your pages scrollable, rather than forcing users to click through; and allowing easy navigation. With self-serve ordering and QR codes, customers can easily pull up your menu and place their orders through their mobile device.
Share your food safety measures
The COVID-19 pandemic means many people are being more vigilant about health and safety. Be really clear about the range of measures your restaurant uses to ensure safety when preparing and delivering food. For example, it might be that all your delivery drivers wear masks and gloves. You could display this information as a banner on all or selected pages on your website, potentially with a link to further details.
Consider your packaging
Choose packaging that keeps your food as fresh as possible. For example, baked goods might require airtight containers, frozen meals likely need insulated packages, as well as a refrigerant, and foods that bruise easily need tight padding. Take this into consideration when you’re adapting your menu for primarily takeout and delivery. You want to prioritize food that won’t require too much custom packaging, which can be expensive.
Offer dishes that travel well
Your customers will likely expect that the images of your food that they see online look similar to the delivery orders that arrive at their doors. Your best bet is to choose dishes that can hold their shape when they travel. If an order does require some assembly on the customer’s part, include directions and guidance to make sure your customers are still having a great experience with your cuisine even if they can’t dine at your restaurant.
Allow menu personalization
It’s not unusual for restaurant-goers to request minor tweaks to their dish and they’ll likely want this ability with takeout too. This can be as simple as offering add-ons or variations to a dish. For example, the ability to add cheese or bacon to a burger or choose between prawns, pork, or chicken in a noodle dish or curry. Consider enabling customers to make these tweaks when they order online.
Eating out is an experience. Whether it’s to meet loved ones in a relaxed and cozy ambiance, share a novel culinary experience with friends, or treat a special someone to a date night, help your customers re-create these experiences at home.
In addition to your standard online menu that displays all your dishes for customers to pick and choose from, consider crafting custom menus or pre-fixe menus around certain themes or nights of the week. For example, a date-night menu or movie-night menu.
Throw in a treat
Delight your customers and include a small freebie in their order. For example, in your restaurant you might serve a chocolate with the bill or free bread with a starter. Do the same for your takeout customers.
Pay attention to the finer details
When customers dine in, they expect you to pay attention to the small details. This extends to delivery and takeout orders, as well. Be clear about the sauces you serve with each dish and enable the ability to add on extra ones to an order.
Offer both delivery and pickup
Customers like choices when it comes to how they receive their food. A large number of customers might prefer delivery, but make sure to provide options for customers who value the ability to pick up their order rather than wait longer for delivery.
Offer discounts and promotions
Encourage bigger order values by offering meal deals and family bundles. Tired parents often order takeout simply because they don’t have the energy to cook and wash up themselves. Make life easy for them with all-in-one meal deals that take the thinking out of cooking.
Once customers find a restaurant they love in a particular niche, they’re likely to keep coming back to you time and again. Reward their loyalty and encourage word-of-mouth marketing by incentivizing them to come back to you with a loyalty program. This could be by offering a subscription to your meals and discounts or promo codes to newsletter subscribers.