The whole purpose of a cloud-kitchen is to save on overhead costs of operating a storefront and/or dining-room and operate strictly through carry-out and delivery. And while you can save a ton of money by operating this way, it makes the practice of discovering and building rapport with your target audience, that much trickier. If you don’t have the opportunity to interact with your customer base for longer than a quick hello and goodbye, how do you know who to market to? And how much money is wasted trying to “happen upon” this audience. Little do you know, you can maximize a foundational part of your restaurant to become your data epicenter that will uncover everything you need to know about who loves your food offerings and how to target them (and retarget them). What are we talking about? Well smart menus of course.
Traditional Menus Vs. Smart Menus
We’re all familiar with the traditional online menu. It’s basically a list of menu items that are uploaded and changed seasonally with LTO’s. With the FDA regulations being set into place for restaurants with 20+ locations, this list now likely includes a calorie count next to the listed menu item. Or maybe you have a pdf on a separate page with your nutritional information available for the diner. The customer clicks the meal they would like and adds the item to cart, sometimes with changes, and pays for their order in your typical food retail, ecommerce transaction. Maybe you have a POS system that gives you feedback on items that are ordered most often and you base your inventory off of these numbers.
A smart menu is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of simply providing menu item information in list form, a smart menu learns about your target audience with each interaction, helping you to get a handle on defining your target audience as well. Instead of guessing at the potentially interested demographics, your smart menu begins to log this information from day one, based on their menu choices and pathway to cart. For example, say you have a customer who has visited the site and orders the same cheeseburger special without cheese with a coke, every Friday, for the last 3 weeks. Your smart menu is logging not only the IP address of the customer, but their preferences, which in turn allows you to retarget that customer in a personalized way.
To dive a little deeper, smart menus can also log the dietary preferences of your customer, allowing them to search your menu by these preferences. With a few clicks of a button, you customer can define a category that they would like to search by in order to quickly find items to suit their tastes. Smart menus even have the capability to go beyond flavor and into allergens. Using the example of the cheeseburger with no cheese customer above, perhaps he orders his burger without cheese because he has a dairy allergy. With a smart menu, you can now give that customer the opportunity to log their dietary preferences straight into a customer profile. This profile lets your customer leave you feedback and gives you a bird’s eye view of why the customer is ordering how they order.
It’s no secret that creating successful new menu items can be difficult. I mean not everything has the revenue power of a Starbuck’s PSL in the fall, and it likely took Starbucks several tries and hundreds of thousands of dollars to nail down the recipe for this meme-worthy menu item. But when you’re a cloud kitchen or even a restaurant operating without a dining-room due to COVID-19, testing LTO recipes isn’t just cost-prohibitive but nearly impossible to collect data on. If you don’t have diners coming into your location except to pick up a carry-out order, how do you know if they liked your current-running LTO? How do you know what the customer thinks about anything for that matter? Truth is, you really don’t. There is too much guesswork and not enough surety in the restaurant industry when it comes to A/B testing. However, you probably guessed it, having a smart menu can change all that.
With a smart menu, you can now log your customer’s interaction with your LTO, any changes that are made to it, and gain feedback on their experience, all through your online menu. Imagine if you debuted a Backyard BBQ Burger with barbecue sauce and chipotle mayo but 76% of the time, customers were removing the chipotle mayo? What if you had the opportunity to save money on and ingredient and increase your profit margins all while creating an even-better-selling sandwich! That’s a game-changer.
So you want to get down to brass taxes and are curious about how much it’s going to cost to implement this miracle menu. Well if we were honest, implementing a smart menu will probably cost you less money than running your traditional menu as is. A smart menu can be implemented with a one-time set up fee and then a small recurring hosting/data reporting fee. But the money that you can save year after year by having this data is priceless.
To talk real numbers and see how smart menus can help increase your revenue this next year, contact us. Take the guesswork out of discovering your target audience and catering to their preferences. Back up your decisions with data by implementing a smart menu for your cloud-kitchen.