The Digital Menu and the Restaurant Industry

Digital menus have made it big in the tech industry. The acquisition of a digital menu company Dynamic Yield by McDonald’s only confirms this fact. McDonalds, as a corporation, is a synonym for organic growth. This is the reason that even though the net worth, as well as the turnover of McDonalds runs into billions of dollars, this $300 million deal is the biggest acquisition that the company has made in over 20 years!

McDonalds, like the entire restaurant industry, has been witnessing increasing digitization. Ever since CEO Steve Easterbrook took over in 2015, McDonalds is trying to be an innovator. This is because the application of technology and artificial industry are poised to change the way we interact with restaurants. The economic effects of this massive change are bound to be profound.

In this article, we will try and understand the economic benefits of having digital menus. We will also explore the various types of digital menus that are commonly used by restaurants.

Benefits of Having a Digital Menu Card

  • Reduced Workforce: The workforce is easily the largest overhead in the restaurant industry. Also, since most of the jobs in the restaurant industry pay less, the worker attrition is high. Companies find it difficult to compete with retail chains for workers during the holiday season. This increased competition drives up wages. This is where digital menus come to the rescue. If the order taking process of a restaurant is digitized, the number of workers required to operate a restaurant is considerably reduced. Of course, the creators of digital menus claim that their menus supplement the workers and don’t replace them. However, the reality is that the number of workers required in a restaurant with a digital menu is considerably less.
  • Cheaper: Digital menus are cheaper and more attractive. LED screens make it possible to display high-resolution images of food items. Also, space is not really a constraint since pictures can be hyperlinked to text and other details. Hence, if a customer wants to know more about the details of a product, they can access that information. The prices on the restaurant menu also tend to change frequently. If a restaurant has a digital menu, they can add or delete items and update prices without spending too much money on printing several copies of the menu again.
  • Increased Efficiency: Digital menus tend to increase the efficiency of the workforce. Restaurants which have implemented digital menus report fewer mistakes while collecting customer orders. Also, customers prefer using digital menus while ordering take-outs. The process of speaking to a busy restaurant executive and conveying the order is both tedious as well as time-consuming. Also, digital menus can be created in multiple languages. This also reduces the communication gap between the restaurant and the customer.
  • Increased Revenue: The biggest benefit of having a digitized menu is increased revenues. Restaurants which have digitized menus record higher sales. The sales of all products increase. However, the sales of desserts increase by more than 30%. There could be multiple reasons behind this increase.

Firstly, customers do not feel guilty ordering dessert on a machine since the machine does not judge them for their choices. Secondly, digital menus are powered by artificial intelligence. This means that they store information about the customer. They also store information about external factors such as the weather etc. Hence, during cold days, they suggest items like coffee and tea. On the other hand, during cold days, they suggest items such as deserts and milkshakes. This gives the menus a unique ability to upsell more products than a traditional restaurant server.

Types of Digital Menu Cards

Many tech companies have been working to create digital menu cards. As a result, there are several types of menu cards which restaurants can choose from.

  • Tablets: Tablets are the simplest and cheapest digital menu cards on offer. These tablets can be programmed only to facilitate browsing and taking orders. Alternatively, they could also be designed to take payments from customers. Tablets could either be attached to the table, or they could be placed at a central kiosk within the restaurant. The self-ordering kiosk often spotted at Burger King and McDonald’s is an example of this kiosk.
  • Augmented Reality: There are digital menus which allow customers to view a 3D representation of the food that they are trying to order. This is usually implemented in exotic restaurants where customers are not really sure about what they are ordering. Restaurants claim that augmented reality menus encourage customers to experiment and also leads to higher satisfaction since customers are sure about what they are ordering
  • Interactive Tables: High-end restaurants often use interactive tables. Any table or flat surface can be converted into an interactive table. Some restaurants allow customers to see their food being prepared in real time. This adds to the dining experience as the customer’s value the transparency of the products and service being provided. These tables can also be programmed to allow customers to play fun games while they wait for their food to be delivered.

The bottom line is that digital menus are here to stay. They seem to be an idea whose time has come. This is because millennials prefer technological interaction more than human interaction. Hence, the implementation of digital menus is really a win-win situation for all the parties involved.

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