#4 How NOT To KILL Your Customers # Digital Menus

How To KILL Your Customers #4 Digital Menus

As a food safety, vegan and allergy advocate, I have my concerns about digital menus.

Often there are glitches that make ordering “without” an ingredient extremely difficult.

Many menus replace the ordering process, the information about ingredients or customising options (e.g. without cheese) are missing or confusing.

Some have allergy information but the person inputing it into the app doesn’t understand allergens, may contain information and often marks items as vegan even though the topping, sides, dips are not.

I have tested dozens of apps, and always find an issue or omission.

A vegan burger may be ordered in a non-vegan menu.

It's assumed chips, or sides are allergy friendly/vegan etc. NO no NOO!!! They are often coated in something non-vegan, such as flavouring or batter or they are cooked with dairy/meat products directly.

Its either difficult to order, or gives a false sense of security.

Not all digital menus are created equal, some exist just to skim a few percent in commission from the restaurant/takeaway revenue through the payment processor.

Others were designed with allergies in mind.

Delivery apps (e.g. Just Eats) send people with allergies to a phone number, if you’re lucky a website (a smart way for food businesses to avoid a 20-40% commission).

Searching for a vegan option on Google, or JustEats or even TripAdvisor requires that the word Vegan is in the title of the dish, not just a V, even for an entirely vegan menu….the robots cannot see it. The same is true for allergy information, it’s often invisible to search engines as it’s a (rather complicated) pdf/excel sheet.

Substitutions and allergy requests may attract a dietary preference tax. E.g. Take out the cheese and add vegan cheese, is the same cost as adding extra cheese. It can very quickly “add on” 50% in surcharges to have a vegan burger rather than a regular burger due to taking out something and then adding the alternative.

It may be only 1 member of staff in an entire restaurant (1 in 20), can use the till to order a customised meal.

Vegan options quite often let down the allergy information as although the ingredients do not include the top allergens (milk, egg, fish, shellfish) they are not protected from contamination at all.

Some menus can filter dishes dependant on their allergy friendliness and the customer can accept or reject “may contain” disclaimers.

A digital menu subscription/installation needs to prioritise these features, it saves effort for customer, staff and increases speed and sales. In the long term - dietary preferences are on the increase whether it’s food allergies or the plant-based continuum, menus need to be adaptable.

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