When the pandemic forced dining rooms to close last year, restaurants went into survival mode. Many explored new avenues to build alternative customer experiences and found new strategies to innovate, launching initiatives like curbside pickup, QR codes, virtual concepts and more. While many of us assumed these adapted responses would likely fade into the background as in-location dining fully returned, some trends, like digital menus, ended up changing restaurant operations forever.
According to Square’s Future of Restaurants 2021 report, 88 percent of restaurants said they would consider exchanging their physical menus for digital ones. The same survey found that 47 percent of owners or managers already offering digital menus via a URL or online platform said they are “very likely” to make the switch to all digital menus.
Here are four reasons why digital menus will continue to benefit full-service restaurants well beyond recovery:
Consumer insights are at the click of a button.
Instead of scanning a QR code to a stagnant PDF on your phone, technologies have revolutionized digital menus for restaurants by giving partners access to in-depth consumer insight and upselling opportunities. While restaurants are saving some George Washington’s on print costs, digital menus provide them with live updates, showing what guests are ordering in real time. Brands can boost their sales by swapping out featured items on their menus based on item popularity and time-of-day trends.
Digital menus open new doors for innovation.
With this revolutionary new technology, it’s easier than ever to get new items onto menus and track their performance. Previously, Twin Peaks would launch several new food and beverage menu items at once as part of its bi-annual menu refresh. Through its new digital menu, the brand now has the flexibility to introduce new items more frequently. Now, Twin Peaks’ leading-edge strategy allows for the culinary team to explore, test and launch quickly and provide guests with even more craveable and seasonal menu options.
Interactive menus drive targeted sales.
Unlike traditional printed menus, restaurants using advanced digital menu technology can feature either new items through targeted videos or pop-ups. For example, Hooters of America ran a video lead-in from a major brewer using BeerBoard SmartMenu’s video capabilities. The brewer, which was already the leading brand in its style, increased volume sales 10 times the overall beer growth at 82 percent and share over 60 percent—all at full margin. Overall, Hooters increased draft growth 8 percent over the prior six weeks.
Staff can be more productive during their shifts.
In response to the industry’s current labor shortages, on-premise retail partners utilizing technology have driven efficiencies and extended staff capabilities. By embracing restaurant trends that emerged throughout the pandemic like QR-code prompted digital menus and automated inventory ordering systems, our full-service partners like Twin Peaks, Buffalo Wild Wings and Hooters are finding they can do more with less. With boosted efficiencies, existing staff can interact with guests to help upsell items and increase revenue per ticket. It also helps relieve some of the pressures to hire additional staff.
If the last year taught us anything, it’s that adaptability is the name of the game for restaurants. Full-service dining has changed so drastically that restaurants have recognized that digital menus are no longer just about limiting touchpoints. Digital menus are the future in optimizing technology to give restaurants more flexibility than ever before. Steve Jobs once said, “innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” The new leaders recognize that digital menu technology is a modern solution for a next-generation restaurant industry.
Mark Young is Founder and CEO of BeerBoard. Before holding his current position, Young started in the beer industry serving as Founder/President of Premier Beverage, a retail beverage center and craft beer distributorship which serviced all of Upstate NY. After growing the company’s product catalog, expanding staff and increasing revenues, he went on to sell the brand rights to three large distributors in 2005. That same year using his firsthand knowledge of the industry, Mark founded BeerBoard with the intent to bring intelligence to the draught beer supply chain. Since its inception, BeerBoard has continued to develop a robust platform of services, including its patented cloud-based solution SmartBar benefitting operators, brewers and distributors simultaneously through shared real-time data and SmartMenus, which marries consumer insights, upselling opportunities, tableside payment functions through a white-label QR-code activated digital menu. BeerBoard has grown to manage over $1 billion in retail bar sales and 55,000 products and their industry-leading platform adopters include restaurants such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Hooters, Twin Peaks, Mellow Mushroom and BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse.