How to Increase Restaurant Sales with Digital Menu Optimisation

Your digital menu is your first and most prominent opportunity to win over customers and increase delivery orders. Learn how to analyse & improve your restaurant’s menu today!

For a long time, a restaurant’s menu has called to mind a physical booklet. Printed menus are still a staple for many but today’s customers can also pull up a photo of your menu from a restaurant review, scan a QR code to access your online menu or scour delivery apps to discover your menu items. 

With nearly one third of eaters ordering food online today, your delivery menu is often the first touchpoint customers have with your restaurant. That makes it a golden opportunity to win over customers and drive higher revenue on delivery orders!

In this blog, we'll explore how to enhance your restaurant's digital and delivery menu to boost sales and provide a more engaging customer experience.

We’ll cover:

  • The benefits of optimising your menu for delivery in the UK
  • Menu pricing strategies to maximise profitability
  • Menu engineering 101: Enhancing profits & reducing waste
  • Organising menu items & categories 
  • Designing your menu images for more orders
  • The trifecta of promotions, seasonal & special menus

8 benefits of online menu optimisation for delivery apps in the UK

We know what you’re thinking. Why should your digital delivery menu be any different from your dine-in menu? Unlike in your restaurant, your digital menu is only one of many options on delivery apps. Customers are often overwhelmed with choices, from endless cuisines to a million and one add-ons. 

How do you make sure a potential customer chooses your restaurant to satisfy their cravings? Let’s just say that a little goes a long way to amp up your menu.

Here’s what the data shows.

Pricing matters

  • Total meal cost (including fees like delivery, service and taxes) can go up by as much as 17% for customers ordering delivery vs dine-in
  • 33% of customers are willing to pay a higher fee for the convenience of faster delivery services

Menu engineering is key

  • The average diner spends only 109 seconds scanning a menu. Put your bestsellers up top!
  • Menus with seven categories or less are easy to navigate and encourage repeat orders.
  • Eaters are 45% more likely to select an item that has a description, and well-written descriptions can increase restaurant sales by up to 30%

The power of visuals in digital menus

  • Restaurants that use menu images on delivery apps see up to 24% more orders than those who do not
  • Restaurants that use a branded hero image show up more often on delivery apps
  • Menus with photos sell up to 3x as many items and can lead to higher basket sizes

The good news is, it only takes a few tweaks and customisations to ensure your delivery menu stands out from the competition. Let’s dig into it.

Restaurant menu pricing strategies to maximise profitability

First, let’s talk pricing. There are many ways to design your menu pricing. The goal is to create a well balanced menu that accounts for food cost and profit margins. 

Based on where your restaurant is located, who your target customer is and how industry costs are faring, choose the pricing method that best suits your business:

  1. Menu pricing based on food cost percentage: This cost-conscious method involves reverse engineering your menu pricing by looking at your raw food cost and pricing items towards the ideal food cost percentage, which generally falls between 25-35%.
Food Cost Percentage = (Beginning Inventory + Additional Purchases – Ending Inventory) / Food Sales
  1. Menu pricing based on profit margin: If your goal is higher margin, you could also price menu items towards this with a simple formula.
Ideal Profit Margin = (Menu Price – Food Cost) / Menu Price
  1. Menu pricing based on demand and supply: With the fluctuation in food prices and inflation rates in this economy, this is also a smart way to price your menu based on demand for certain items. 
  2. Menu pricing based on competition: If you’re in a densely populated market, it’s worth considering competitive pricing by using the prices set by the local competition as your baseline. Don’t forget to also compare operating costs and the value you’re offering! 

Whichever you decide to go with, it’s important to keep in mind the best practices for delivery menu pricing. 


Since delivery incurs additional costs such as third-party commission fees, delivery and packaging costs, consider establishing a minimum amount for orders within a set delivery area. You can also opt to use your own online ordering system like Direct Orders to reduce costs and maintain consistent menu pricing. 

For better quality control, choose only a select number of items from your menu for delivery service. But variety in your menu is often key to encouraging more orders, so consider an order management software like Otter that allows you to pause stores temporarily, auto-accept orders and send orders directly to the kitchen. 

Menu engineering 101: Enhancing profits & reducing waste

What is menu engineering? Menu engineering is the science of maximising returns on your menu. Not only can menu engineering help you draw attention to higher value items and upsell extras, it’s also a great way to reduce food waste. This also applies to your physical menu, but when digital menus are so dependent on first-page impressions, menu engineering can give you the edge!

To do this, you categorise menu items using a tried-and-tested matrix of profitability and popularity. Think stars, puzzles, plow horses and dogs. We’ll explain.

  • Highly profitable and popular (Stars): These are your bestsellers and they make you money! Put them front and centre to encourage more orders and higher spend.
  • Highly popular but not profitable (Plow horses): Here you have your dishes that are doing the good work, you just need to find a way to increase your margin on them. Consider bundling these with more profitable items like drinks or sides for a higher margin order.
  • Highly profitable but not popular (Puzzles): These are your underdogs — start thinking about ways to promote these. You also want to figure out why these aren’t popular. Perhaps it’s priced too high or it features an unpopular ingredient. Either way, it’s worth digging deeper to get these profit drivers right!
  • Not popular and not profitable (Dogs):  Digital real estate is precious, and you don’t waste it here. It may be time to say goodbye to these items and leave them out of your menu.

Once you’ve analysed your items with this point-of-view, it’s easy to decide what stays and goes in your menu. It also gives you more insights into which menu items need your attention.

Organising menu items & categories

Your digital menu is your virtual storefront so you want to make sure it’s clear and easy to navigate. Mimicking the way you organise your dine-in menu will help potential customers know exactly how to order. 

  1. Your key categories should look something like this: mains, sides, drinks, desserts, extras and special bundles or promotions
  2. Highlight your best-selling items in a section up top to help customers make that quick decision to order from you
  3. Include mouth-watering menu descriptions to entice customers and speak to their cravings
  4. Remove dishes that are underperforming or unavailable—it’s better to have fewer, more popular options than a huge quantity of menu items that aren’t optimal for at-home dining
  5. Allow some flexibility with order modifications. Menus that empower customers to customise preferences tend to perform better in the age of dietary restrictions

With the need for frequent and granular updates on end, managing your menu is a tall order. That’s where you can leverage a menu management tool to help you master your delivery menu.

Designing menu images for more orders

We all judge a menu by its cover—especially when we’re hungry! We’ve established that restaurants that use images in their menus not only get more orders, they show up more often on delivery apps. Here’s how to stand out from the crowd with the power of visuals in your menu. 


In 2023, every restaurant is rocking professionally taken food photos, perfect lighting and all. So how do you stand out? 

Research shows that colour improves brand recall by 80%, so use bright, bold colours that’s relevant to your brand to be featured in the background. You also want to feature your restaurant name or logo in images whenever possible. 

Not only will you be stopping a customer’s endless scroll on delivery apps, you’d build awareness for your restaurant so they remember you for their next order.

The trifecta of promotions, seasonal & special menus

Now that you’re close to perfecting your menu, what’s next? You change it! 

We know how counterintuitive that sounds. Your menu is a constant work in progress so change will need to happen often, but the beauty of digital menus is that everything can happen in just a few clicks. But when should you be switching things up?

Keep an eye on your delivery performance to watch out for dishes that are no longer performing and do a little housekeeping to keep your menu healthy. Pro tip: Our insights tool provides actionable analytics so you don’t have to dig through multiple reports to find these. 


On a more exciting front, you want to adjust for seasonality or trend changes by creating special menus from time to time. For example, a family roast for the holidays or cocktails for Mardi Gras will be eye-catching additions to your regular menu. 

Not all change is about dishing out new items! Running promotions is also a great incentive for more customers to order from your restaurant and can help boost your chances of showing up on the front page of food delivery apps like Uber Eats and Just Eat. We can’t stress enough the importance of this, especially when 80% of delivery orders happen on the first page. 

Optimising your menu to increase restaurant sales is all about the little things. Learn how Otter's all-in-one dashboard can help take the heavy lifting off your plate.

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