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Swipe, Select, and Order: The Rise of Restaurant Mobile Menus and Digital Ordering

Last Update: Dec 5, 2023 @ 7:40 am

“In a world where convenience is king, restaurants that offer online ordering are better positioned to meet customer expectations and establish long-lasting relationships.” 

– Ryan Adams, Restaurant Technology Innovator


As a consultant specializing in mobile app marketing for restaurants, I’ve experienced firsthand the transformative power of technology in the hospitality sector. Restaurant mobile menus and digital ordering have become game-changing tools in the modern day, and not just for huge restaurant chains.

The current dining landscape is seeing a rapid transformation, and the restaurants that adapt and embrace these changes are the ones that will thrive. It is no longer an option for restaurant owners, managers, and marketers to ignore the growing popularity of mobile menus and online ordering. In this article, we delve into the intricacies of these tools and highlight a popular restaurant brand that successfully implemented them.

What is a Mobile Menu
Restaurant Mobile Menu From the Web

What is a Mobile Menu?

A restaurant’s mobile menu is a digital version of its printed menu that can be accessed on a mobile device. It can be seen through QR code, a restaurant website, or its app.

The rise of smartphones and advancements in technology have made mobile menus increasingly popular. They offer a modern, efficient, and contactless way to browse food and beverage options, particularly given the increased focus on hygiene due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mobile menus can include images, descriptions, prices, and sometimes even customer reviews for each dish, providing a comprehensive, interactive experience for users.

For instance, a customer at a restaurant can scan a QR code placed on their table to access the mobile menu, peruse the offerings, and even place their order right from their device.

Key Elements of A Mobile Menu

An efficient and user-friendly mobile menu relies on several factors:

  • User-friendly Interface: The menu should be well-organized and straightforward, with distinct sections for different food types (such as starters, mains, and desserts).
  • Visual Appeal: High-quality images of dishes can entice customers and help them make decisions.
  • Detailed Descriptions: Each dish should have a clear and enticing description, outlining key ingredients and flavors.
  • Updated Information: Prices, dish availability, and special offers must be kept up-to-date to avoid customer frustration.
  • Customization Options: Offering customization can enhance the customer experience, allowing users to tailor dishes to their preference.
  • Accessibility Features: The menu should be accessible for all users, including those with visual or other impairments.

Role of Digital Ordering in Improving Restaurant’s Customer Service

Digital ordering plays a pivotal role in enhancing a restaurant’s customer service. It streamlines the ordering process, reducing wait times and minimizing order errors, both of which significantly improve the customer experience. Here’s how:

  • Convenience: Customers can submit orders digitally whenever it’s convenient for them, eliminating the need to wait in line or on hold.
  • Order Accuracy: Digital ordering eliminates misunderstandings that can occur during verbal communication. Customers get exactly what they ordered, improving their overall satisfaction.
  • Speed of Service: By accepting digital orders, restaurants can prepare meals in advance, reducing wait times and increasing the number of orders they can handle during peak times.
  • Personalized Experience: Digital ordering platforms can remember customers’ past orders and preferences, allowing restaurants to offer personalized recommendations.
  • Improved Communication: Restaurants can use digital ordering platforms to keep customers informed about their order status, special promotions, and more.

In essence, digital ordering has become an essential tool for enhancing customer service in the restaurant industry. By offering a smooth, efficient, and personalized ordering experience, restaurants can attract more customers, increase their loyalty, and ultimately, boost their bottom line.

Case Study_ Dominos Pizza
Domino’s Pizza Mobile Menu From the Web

Case Study: Dominos Pizza

Dominos Pizza is a stellar example of a restaurant brand that has fully embraced digital ordering and integrated it into their marketing strategy. The late aughts were the beginning of Dominoes’ digital success, when the company realized they needed to upgrade its product and service. They turned to technology, and particularly to digital ordering, as a way to revolutionize their business.

Here are five key strategies they implemented:

  • Easy Ordering: Domino’s created an intuitive, easy-to-use mobile app and website, allowing customers to place orders with just a few clicks. They even introduced the ‘Easy Order’ button, a one-touch ordering system that saves your favorite order.
  • Multiple Digital Platforms: Recognizing the variety of devices their customers use, Domino’s expanded their digital ordering service to several platforms, including smart TVs, smartwatches, and even via Twitter.
  • Real-Time Order Tracking: Domino’s debuted the Domino’s Tracker, a tool that allows customers to monitor the status of their orders as they progress through the kitchen, oven, and delivery routes in real time.
  • Voice Ordering: In a step towards the future, Domino’s introduced ‘Dom’, a voice ordering system, allowing customers to order easily through their mobile app without having to type in their order.
  • Gamification: Domino’s cleverly utilized gamification in their app, rewarding users with points for ordering pizzas, which could then be redeemed for free pizzas.

The Unmissable Benefits of Mobile Menus and Digital Ordering

The shift towards mobile menus and digital ordering isn’t just a trend; it’s a response to the evolving demands of the modern customer. Here are ten benefits that highlight why this shift is worth your attention:

1. Increased Order Accuracy: Digital ordering eliminates human error, with studies indicating up to a 15% decrease in order mistakes when compared to traditional methods. Orders are more accurate, leading to less food waste and more satisfied customers.

2. Greater Customer Convenience: Around 60% of U.S. consumers order delivery or takeout once a week, reflecting the convenience and demand for digital ordering. Digital ordering offers customers the convenience of browsing menus, customizing orders, and paying, all from their devices at their own pace.

3. Enhanced Customer Engagement: Restaurants using mobile apps witnessed an increase of up to 50% in customer engagement rates. Mobile apps provide a platform for direct communication with customers, from personalized recommendations to promotional offers.

4. Streamlined Operations: Digital ordering can improve efficiency, with orders sent directly to the kitchen, reducing wait times and improving the customer experience. 63% of NRA members who operate restaurants agree that taking orders online improves productivity.

5. Higher Average Ticket Sizes: Digital orders are 23% larger, on average, than non-digital orders. Deloitte discovered online shoppers spend 20% more than in-store shoppers.

6. Valuable Customer Insights: Businesses that leverage their data effectively can increase their total revenue by up to 10%. Mobile apps provide data on customer preferences and behaviors, which can be used to personalize marketing efforts and improve offerings.

7. Increased Reach: The number of users of mobile food services in the United States is expected to reach 182.5 million by 2024. Restaurants can attract more customers, especially those who orders foods via smartphone app.

15 Best Mobile Menus and Digital Ordering Strategies for Restaurants
Restaurant Mobile Menu QR Code Scan From the Web

15 Best Mobile Menus and Digital Ordering Strategies for Restaurants

1. Understand your customers

Before developing your mobile menu and digital ordering system, understand your customers’ needs, preferences, and pain points. Conduct market research or use data analytics to create a customer profile that will guide your strategy.

2. Simplify navigation

A well-designed, intuitive interface is key to user retention. Ensure the process from menu browsing to order confirmation is seamless. For example, implement a cart that’s easily accessible from any page.

3. High-quality visuals

Quality images of dishes can significantly influence customer choices. Use professional photography to make your menu more appealing.

4. Clear, descriptive menus

Along with quality visuals, provide clear descriptions for each menu item. Include ingredients, portion sizes, and other relevant information.

5. Customizable orders

Allow customers to customize their orders. This could include add-ons, size options, or special cooking instructions. Customization gives customers a sense of control and can improve satisfaction.

6. Special deals and promotions

Use your app to offer exclusive deals or discounts. This encourages users to download and use your app regularly.

7. Loyalty program integration

Incorporate a loyalty program within your app to encourage repeat business. Customers, for instance, may accumulate points for every app purchase that would later be redeemable for savings or freebies.

8. Multiple payment options

Accept major credit cards, debit cards, mobile payment systems including Apple Pay and Google Wallet, and in-app transactions.

9. Real-time order tracking

Much like Domino’s Pizza’s Tracker, provide real-time updates on the order process. This transparency can improve customer trust and satisfaction.

10. Customer reviews and ratings

Allow customers to rate and review your dishes. This can help future customers make informed decisions and provide you with valuable feedback.

11. Push notifications

Use push notifications to update customers on new menu items, deals, and more. However, it’s important to not spam users with alerts.

12. Personalized experience

Use data from customer orders to offer personalized recommendations. For instance, if a customer often orders vegetarian dishes, recommend new vegetarian options.

13. Social media integration

Allow users to share their orders or reviews on their social media profiles. This can increase your restaurant’s visibility and reach.

14. Regular updates and improvements

Update your app with bug fixes, performance improvements, and new features. Customers will see that you care about providing the greatest service.

15. Provide excellent customer service

Finally, ensure you have a system in place to handle customer queries and complaints efficiently. A positive customer service experience can significantly enhance the overall impression of your restaurant.

By implementing these strategies, restaurateurs, restaurant managers, and marketing professionals can maximize the potential of mobile menus and digital ordering to improve their business performance and customer satisfaction.

Mobile Menus and Digital Ordering Common Mistakes by Restaurants

While mobile menus and digital ordering can greatly benefit restaurants, there are common mistakes that establishments should avoid to ensure a smooth and successful implementation. Here are some potential issues:

1. Poor User Experience

Complicated navigation, slow loading times, or a cluttered interface can frustrate customers and discourage them from using the mobile menu or ordering system. Make sure your website or app is accessible, easy to use, and mobile-friendly.

2. Inaccurate or Incomplete Menu Information

Displaying incorrect or outdated information on your mobile menu can lead to customer dissatisfaction. Regularly update your menu to reflect changes in prices, availability, and ingredients.

3. Lack of Visual Appeal

Failing to include high-quality images of your dishes can result in missed opportunities to entice customers. Visuals play a crucial role in making the menu visually appealing and enticing.

4. Limited Customization Options

Restricting customers’ ability to customize their orders can limit their satisfaction and deter them from using the digital ordering system. Provide ample options for modifications, including add-ons, substitutions, and special requests.

5. Inefficient Order Fulfillment

Neglecting to streamline operations for online orders can lead to delays and errors. Ensure your kitchen staff is trained to handle digital orders efficiently, prioritize them, and maintain timely communication with customers.

6. Inadequate Marketing and Promotion

Simply having a mobile menu or digital ordering system is not enough; you need to promote it effectively. Failing to market your digital capabilities can result in low customer awareness and adoption. Utilize various marketing channels to spread the word and encourage customers to try your digital offerings.

7. Insufficient Staff Training

If your restaurant has limited staff knowledge or training on how to handle digital orders, it can lead to confusion and errors. Ensure your staff is well-trained on the ordering process, any software or apps used, and how to handle customer inquiries related to digital ordering.

8. Ignoring Customer Feedback

Neglecting to collect and act on customer feedback regarding your mobile menus and digital ordering system can hinder improvements and prevent you from addressing customer concerns. Regularly gather feedback and make necessary adjustments to enhance the user experience.

9. Neglecting Mobile Responsiveness

In today’s mobile-driven world, it is essential that your mobile menus and digital ordering platforms are fully optimized for different devices and screen sizes. Failing to provide a seamless experience across various mobile devices can lead to frustrated customers and abandoned orders.

10. Lack of Security Measures

With the prevalence of cyberattacks on the rise, failing to establish adequate security measures can put your customers’ private data at risk. Prioritize data security, encrypt customer information, and comply with industry standards to build trust with your customers.

By avoiding these common mistakes, restaurants can ensure a successful implementation of mobile menus and digital ordering, providing customers with a seamless and satisfying experience while maximizing the benefits of these technological advancements.

How to Build a User-friendly Mobile Menu
Restaurant Digital Ordering Graphics From the Web

How to Build a User-friendly Mobile Menu

Constructing a user-friendly mobile menu for a restaurant app necessitates knowledge of user psychology, familiarity with UI design concepts, and some imagination. This part will assist you in developing an intuitive mobile menu for your restaurant.

1. Simplicity is key

An effective mobile menu design is uncluttered and straightforward. It should be simple enough for any user to navigate without much thought. Avoid using complex terms or jargon. Keep descriptions concise and to the point.

2. Use high-quality images

Humans are visual creatures, and a well-taken photo can significantly influence a customer’s decision to order. Include clear, appetizing pictures of the dishes in your menu. However, mobile-friendly photographs load faster and take up less space.

3. Logical categorization

Organize your menu logically and intuitively. Group similar items together under categories like appetizers, main courses, desserts, and beverages. Users can now immediately access the information they need thanks to this.

4. Search functionality

Add a search field near the top of the menu for people who know what they want to view. This saves time and improves the overall user experience.

5. Dish descriptions

A good description can sell a dish. Include a brief, enticing description for each menu item, outlining the key ingredients and flavors. Remember to mention if a dish is vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or caters to any other dietary preferences or restrictions.

6. Filter options

Allow users to filter the menu based on their preferences or dietary requirements. This could be by cuisine, dietary restrictions, price, or even calorie count.

7. Visible prices

Be transparent about pricing. The dish’s pricing should be visible without the user having to expand the menu.

8. Customization options

Allow users to customize their dishes. This could be as simple as allowing them to add extras or as comprehensive as building their pizza.

9. Quick reordering

If your users have to place the same order often, make the process easier for them. Include a “reorder” function that allows them to quickly place an order they’ve placed in the past.

10. Feedback and reviews

Allow users to leave reviews and ratings for each dish. This not only helps other customers make informed decisions but also gives you valuable feedback.

When designing a mobile menu, always put yourself in the customer’s shoes to ensure a good browsing, selecting, and ordering experience. By adhering to these guidelines, you can build a mobile menu that not only attracts customers but also boosts business.

How to Implement a Seamless Mobile Ordering Process

Implementing a seamless mobile ordering process is essential for restaurants in the digital age. It has the potential to boost sales, simplify processes, and please customers. Here are key steps to creating a frictionless mobile ordering experience:

1. Simplified Registration Process

The first step in the mobile ordering process is usually creating an account. Make this as straightforward as possible, only requiring essential information. Consider providing a social media or Google login option for even faster registration.

2. Intuitive Design

An intuitive, clean design is crucial. Users should easily navigate your app, find what they need, and place an order.

3. Detailed Menu

The menu, as was mentioned before, ought to be comprehensive, aesthetically pleasing, and simple to use. Each item should have an enticing description, and customization options should be straightforward.

4. Order Customization

Customers appreciate the ability to customize their orders. Whether it’s adding extras, removing ingredients, or specifying preparation instructions, these options can enhance the customer experience.

5. Quick Add and Reorder Features

A ‘quick add’ feature to swiftly include an item to the cart, and a ‘reorder’ feature for easy repeat orders, can significantly improve user experience.

6. Multiple Payment Options

The more payment options you provide, the better. Include all major credit and debit cards, and consider digital wallets like Apple Pay or Google Wallet, or even PayPal.

7. Order Confirmation

Customers should get an instantaneous order confirmation after placing an order. Email, SMS, or pop-up windows are all viable options. The confirmation should include details of the order, the total cost, and the expected wait time.

8. Real-time Order Tracking

Providing order status updates in real time can greatly improve communication with customers. Customers appreciate knowing when their order is being prepared, ready for pickup, or on the way for delivery.

9. Customer Support

Despite your best efforts, issues may arise. Make sure customers can easily reach out for help when needed. This could be through a live chat, a direct phone line, or an in-app messaging system.

10. Feedback Mechanism

Encourage customers to provide feedback on their ordering experience. This information can be invaluable for improving your service.

By implementing these steps, you can create a seamless mobile ordering process that meets customers’ expectations for speed, convenience, and efficiency. Remember, a positive mobile ordering experience can turn first-time app users into regular customers.

Summary Checklist of Action Plans

  • Identify Goals: Determine what you want to achieve with your mobile menu and digital ordering system.
  • Understand Your Customers: Use market research to understand the needs and preferences of your target audience.
  • Choose the Right Platform: To maximize reach, make your software available on iOS and Android.
  • Prioritize User Experience: Make sure your software is easy to use, loads quickly, and is dependable.
  • Promote Your App: Promote your app on social media, your website, and anywhere else you can.
  • Train Your Staff: Ensure your staff is familiar with the app and can promote its benefits to customers.
  • Incorporate Feedback: Regularly ask for and incorporate customer feedback to improve your app.
  • Update Regularly: Always use the most recent version of the app available.


In conclusion, the rise of restaurant mobile menus and digital ordering is a testament to the evolving landscape of the restaurant industry. These tools offer an array of benefits, from increased operational efficiency to enhanced customer experience and loyalty. It’s clear that in today’s digital age, restaurants that embrace this shift will have a competitive advantage. As Tom Fishburne rightly said, the best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing – and mobile menus and digital ordering are marketing at its finest, seamlessly integrating into the customer’s experience. There has never been a better opportunity to ride the tide of digital change as a restaurant owner, manager, or marketing professional!

READ ALSO: 5 Ways To Leverage Social Media Marketing

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