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Digital food menus vs physical menus


Digital food menus are here to stay. With their rise to fame during the COVID-19 pandemic putting them on the map, the ease and cleanliness of digital food menus have made them a popular feature in any pub or restaurant.

Whether you’re a customer, a waiter or a business owner in the hospitality space, having digital menus makes the whole process of dining out a lot easier. COVID or not, digital food menus provide a more seamless experience, and encourage people to order more of what they really fancy.

We’re unpacking the digital food menu vs physical menu debate, to find out why digital menus are so effective.

The benefits of digital food menus

The key benefit of digital food menus in COVID times is the hygiene factor. By removing the need to touch a physical menu that someone else has handled, you remove the risk of spreading COVID and other viruses.

However, digital food menus have many benefits that extend beyond the COVID-obvious. While they are much more cleanly and hygienic, they also boost trade and make ordering much easier for the consumer.

Some of the benefits of digital food menus include:

There is nothing worse than putting an order through for a customer, to have to come back and tell them that the kitchen has run out of that particular meal. With digital food menus, this can be avoided by showing real time stock availability that removes the meals that are unavailable.

Wanting to push a special or add a chef’s creation at the last minute? With a digital menu, that is no problem. This makes for a much more interesting and creative menu, that can change from week to week.

When venues want to apply discounts, digital menus win out. Applying discounts is quick and easy, and can be done on the go. This can help venues manage stock and remain competitive.

By allowing people to order via mobile off a digital menu, there is full transparency with pricing. This is thought to encourage people to order more, without the hassle of having to go through a waiter.

It’s surprising how many people find ordering from a waiter difficult. This may be because they are shy, or because they feel embarrassed about what they want to order. Mobile ordering off a digital food menu removes this anxiety and means that people can order whatever they like.

When customers are using a digital food menu and ordering on mobile, wait staff don’t have as many customer-facing tasks. Their only role is to carry the food to the tables and ensure that the customers have everything they need. 

With digital menus, brands can customise their menu to deliver specific brand messages. With a more fluid and easily editable menu, brands can alter their messaging and engage with their customers.

People often forget the cost and environmental damage of printing thousands of digital menus. By using online ordering technology, venues can drastically reduce waste and improve their carbon footprint.

When you eat out in a restaurant, the food allergy details and calorie information is usually kept in a HUGE folder in the kitchen. Any time that a customer asks about nutritional details and allergy info, the kitchen team has to sift through that folder and find the information corresponding to that dish. It is time consuming and not always 100% accurate. With digital menus, that information can be stored online, meaning that the customer is empowered to educate themselves on nutritional info and allergy details.

Are there any benefits of physical food menus?

Many venues are now wondering whether physical menus will ever make a comeback. While digital menus do seem to have taken over, physical food menus can still have their place.

It can be good to offer the customer options, as some people are more old school and would prefer to see a physical menu. However, we don’t believe that there is any need to have as many as venues once had.

A handful of physical menus is usually enough to keep customers happy, and venues are finding that even then the majority of people are happy to order via mobile.

Thinking about shifting to a digital menu? Find out more about mobile ordering from our customers over on our merchant case studies page.

Georgia Coombs
August 9, 2021

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