How to Succeed in Delivery

5 simple steps to improving your restaurant’s menu on delivery platforms to increase orders and sales

August 11, 2021

The truth about analysis paralysis on food delivery apps  

When it comes to online ordering, people are often overwhelmed with the abundance of choices. Anyone with a TV streaming service understands how much time disappears as you scroll through endless TV shows and movies just to end up giving up entirely or re-watching a good old classic. The same effect is happening to the delivery industry as more and more cuisines become “commoditized” on delivery apps. Every restaurant wants to be the exception, and your restaurant can be. In order to get a leg up on your competitors, start by asking yourself a few questions: What will make people pick my burger over the rest? What will make a potential customer choose my restaurant and how can I make sure they’re completely satisfied with their decision afterward? When customers are looking at your menu on food delivery apps, let’s just say that a little goes a long way! The clearest way to differentiate yourself from your competitors is to ensure your menu is “better” than theirs by following a couple of simple steps. Want to learn how you can enhance your online menu? Here are five steps to help you improve your online user experience.

5 simple steps to improving your restaurant’s menu to improve your sales, customer satisfaction, and more!

  1. Organize your menu into categories to help potential customers make good choices quickly. 

First impressions are everything when it comes to food delivery apps. It’s important to make your restaurant’s menu is clear and easy to navigate. Mimicking the way you organize your dine-in menu will help potential customers know exactly how to order. Your key categories should be mains, sides, drinks, desserts, and extras. Highlighting your best-selling items in a section up top could help customers make that quick decision to order from you rather than someone else and ensure that they have a great experience ordering from your restaurant. Another thing to consider is the different types of people who might be ordering from you – if you’re a kid-friendly restaurant, make the process easier for busy families by including a kids section if you offer options for plant-based or vegan customers, group these in a category of their own. Finally, by having a section with “bundles” think a main, a side, and a drink, there’s a good chance that your average order size will increase. Pro tip: experts advise listing no more than seven categories on delivery apps. Lucky number 7.

  1. Make sure your menu is up to date & optimized to avoid confusion, order errors, and poor reviews.

According to Restaurant Business Online, streamlined menus mean happier customers! Keep tabs on your items and 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. Note that out-of-date or lengthy menus can result in poor reviews. 

Keeping tabs on the menu items you offer for delivery can also help you uncover some fun ways to boost sales. For instance, if what’s most popular on your menu changes from winter to summer, consider changing your menu and offering specials based on those seasonal trends. Maybe during the winter, you create a category called “holiday brunch items,” or offer Halloween dessert treats for the month of October. Perhaps you offer a special dish for moms on Mother’s Day, or a game day combo on Sundays. Thinking strategically about modifying and refreshing your menu will help you differentiate your restaurant from the competition. 

  1. Include add-on suggestions & offer modifications in order to increase your average order size.

Knowing and providing guidance for your customers is a great way to increase average order size. For your “regulars,” you might recommend their usual to ensure a quick & seamless decision-making process. When it comes to new customers, you may want to prompt them with a “frequently ordered together” option at checkout to ensure that they get a full meal and you get a bigger average order size. 

Let’s talk modifiers. In 2021, everyone knows someone with a unique dietary restriction whether that’s based on preference, diet, or food allergies. Ensure your menu empowers your customers to personalize every dish so that you don’t lose a customer based on them being vegan, gluten-free, dairy free, keto etcetera. Making sure that a potential customer can personalize any dish is a surefire way to increase sales and satisfaction. 


  1. Differentiate from the competition with eye-catching food photography and hunger-inducing menu item descriptions.

Let’s face it. We all judge a menu by its cover—especially when we’re hungry! In 2021, customers expect to be able to see what their food will look like when it gets to them before even having it delivered. Having a photo to accompany every menu item is critical. If you’re not a professional photographer, don’t worry, neither are we! But we consulted with a professional food photographer to learn five simple ways to shoot mouth-watering food photography like a pro

  • Step 1 - Grab your smartphone and head to the table closest to the window. 
  • It’s all about the lighting (well it’s about the consistency, humanity, and angles too, but we’ll get to that later). “When shooting food photography, working with natural light is best. Natural light ensures that your menu items look clear and real.”  If you notice that using natural light results in shadows on the food, don’t stress. “Grab a white binder, white piece of paper, or even a white apron and hold it up to the table, opposite the window. This bounces the light from the window back on to your plate, filling in shadows and making the item look a bit brighter.” 
  • Step 2 - Set a reminder to shoot every round of food photography at the same time.
  • If you shoot one round of food photography from 1-2 pm on a bright sunny day, make sure that you try to match that time and lighting for each subsequent round. “Shooting all your imagery at around the same time guarantees that all your menu items look like they come from the same place, no matter how different the items are themselves.. I think around midday is best - this keeps all your imagery vibrant and lively.”
  • Step 3 - Use a bright, unique background. 
  • Delivery platforms are full of stimulation - endless logos, delicious food, and bright colors. One shortcut to standing out on delivery platforms is using a consistent, bright base color. Before shooting your food on a white tablecloth or wooden table, think about your logo - is your key color green? Red? Blue? Take note of your brand’s color palette, and then scroll through a delivery platform to see what colors your competitors highlight. If your key color is green and your biggest competitor uses green as a key base color in their food photography, perhaps opt for one of your secondary colors, or a contrasting color. From there, find a tablecloth in that shade - if you don’t have a tablecloth, a large sheet of paper works too. "Utilizing a consistent base color helps your brand stay consistent and stand out from competitors," and best case scenario, grabs a potential customer’s attention instantly – leading to an order.
  • Step 4 - Add a little life.
  • When you scroll through a delivery platform, you might notice that most restaurants simply show a plated dish on a plain background. While all a potential customer might receive in their order is the food itself, evoking an experience could help your restaurant stand out. “Even just one extra garnish makes an image feel more lively” -  experiment with adding a textured napkin, unique piece of glassware, ingredient, foliage or nice cutlery. As you discover which garnishes look best in your imagery, you can continue using those same details in future photos.
  • Step 5 - Stand over the table (or on a chair if you need to) and get a direct overhead shot of the food.
  • At this point, you’ve found your perfect window, made the lighting bright with help from a white apron, discovered a distinct background to help you stand out from the competition, and added touches of life. Your table is set, now it’s time to eat! ...Well, no, first you have to take the photos, then you can eat. “If you’re shooting on a smartphone, the three-quarter angle that many food photographers use could result in the menu item looking distorted. Shooting overhead is the best way to get an accurate image of your food on a smartphone.”

Yes, these 5 steps might require a little more time than your regular food photography process, but it’s worth it. “People today are so used to seeing perfect images of food, and everything, on Instagram. You don’t need to need to have taken photography classes or own a nice camera to get images that match the photo quality people are used to today, it  just takes a little extra time and attention to detail.”

Now that we’ve got food photography covered, let’s move on to descriptions. Did you know that well-written descriptions can increase restaurant sales up to 30%?  Having mouthwatering descriptions might literally induce cravings in your customers - leading to increased orders and sales for your restaurant. Remember that your customers have most likely been perusing the app for some time, so keep your descriptions short and sweet, while ensuring they’re realistic and clear. Being transparent about what’s in each dish is one way you can avoid poor reviews.

  1. Increase delivery orders with promotions and freebies.

Including promotions on your menu is a great incentive for more customers to order from your restaurant. In addition to serving as an incentive for new customers to order from you rather than one of your competitors, running promotions on food delivery apps can actually help boost your chances of showing up on the front page of each app. And in 2021 when 80% of delivery orders happen from the home page of an app like Uber Eats, finding ways to boost your ranking in the algorithm could have a huge impact on your sales. If running promotions on your own sounds a little overwhelming or time consuming, let the team at Otter take that off your plate with our marketing automation solution, Boost. Learn how you can increase sales through Boost’s automated promotions without lifting a finger here


We all judge a menu by its cover. Succeed in delivery by ensuring that you make a great first impression on every potential customer. 

It’s all about the little things! We’re certain that you’ll see an increase in sales, orders and happy customers by following these five steps to improving your delivery menu. With delivery popularity rising, make sure your restaurant not only stands out but creates returning customers through the help of a user friendly delivery platform. By organizing your menu, making sure it is up to date and optimized, including suggestions with every order, making sure those picky eaters can modify their meal, including promotions and helpful descriptions all wrapped up with a mouth-watering picture to seal the deal on the order, your restaurant is sure to see big improvements in both ratings and sales. 

Looking for more ways to improve your restaurant’s delivery performance? The team at Otter is here to help you increase efficiency and sales while decreasing stress and chaos. Get started today!


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