We are working hard to bring more and more food lovers to Taro marketplace. Once on Taro, these food lovers can browse through menus of various kitchens and then place an order for what appeals most to them. 

This document will guide you how to make your menu stand out, get more customers and generate more business.


Structuring your Menu


Right-size your menu

Your menu should have variety including appetizers, entrees, sides and dessert. We recommend keeping your total menu items between 7-10. Though it is totally your choice to have more items but our customer behavior analysis suggests that longer menus are time consuming and confusing for customers so such menus have less order rate.  

On the other hand, right sized menus with 7-10 items provide enough choice to customers that they feel in control of deciding what they want to have for dinner. We have also observed that this helps increase the order value because customers find it more cost optimal to order a variety of items per delivery.

Of the 7-10 items, you’d need to decide how to breakup your menu items. Usually 3-4 entrees, and a mix of sides, appetizers, salads, soups etc. is recommended. You can also throw in some desserts from time to time. You should ideally keep about 40-50% of your menu standard (such as the sides and maybe 1-2 entrees) and keep changing the others so keep loyal customers interested in your menus.

Naming of your dishes

Assigning appealing names to your dishes is another way to capture customer attention. You want to pick names which customers can easily identify. So always choose simple names such as Saag Paneer, Fettuccine Alfredo, Chicken Pho etc.

Chef/House special: You can always add special name to your signature dishes. Eg: Joe’s special quarter lb burger, Jill’s Saag Paneer etc.

Translating the names: In ethnic cuisines, translating the names to English reduces appeal of the dish because it no longer sounds the way customers know it.  So we recommend using original names not translations. You can always use translated versions in “subtitle” and in item “description”. Eg: Don’t translate Palak Paneer as Spinach and Cottage Cheese. Use description section to explain what Palak Paneer is.

Menu Composition

Combo meal or a-la-carte? Most customers like to order a-la-carte. This way they can choose what their family like best. You can include combo meals as one of your item in the menus that way customer can get more choice.

We also recommend having a good balance and diversity in your menu. For instance, we have a lot of families with different preferences (vegetarian, non-vegetarian, nut-free, gluten-free etc.) so some balance is a good idea.

Menu Items

Deciding what items to select for your first few menus can be tricky. We recommend following two simple rules to decide:

1) Select your best dishes to create a good first impression. These can be items that are your signature style and most popular dishes of the cuisine you plan to prepare and sell – food that reminds foodies of home

2) Select what’s right for your customer segment. Most of the customer are families with kids so select what will be most appealing to everyone in the family. Having a specially labeled kid-friendly items is a good idea.

Once you will go through 3-4 order cycles, you will be able to see the data to figure out customer favorites and tailor your menu to repeat those more often. 

Quantity

It is very important to specify the quantity to help customers make a decision on ordering a specific item. You want to be clear on quantity for each of your item. Qulinary admin console allows you to choose from commonly used quantities for meals such as Oz, Pint, Cup, Bowl etc. But you can always use custom quantity units also. Our experience suggest that items which have less specific quantities are less likely get ordered since it can be confusing for customers as to how much they will receive and whether it’ll be enough for a meal for their family. 

In our experience, 8 oz of an entree is good for 1 person with a side for a meal. So, make sure you plan to prepare and sell the right quantities based on your customer segment. Most families order for 2-5 persons. We also have a customer segment who prefer to order for 1. 

Another idea is to decrease pricing as quantity increases. For instance, if an 8oz entree costs $7, then price the 16oz entree at $13 and so on. Customers are likely to be interested in ordering larger quantities if there is such an incentive.

Pricing

When it comes to choices for food, customer have a lot of options. So it is very important to price your food right to beat the competition and acquire new customers! It is best to price attractively as compared restaurant prices for similar items, because in restaurant dining has additional cost of real-estate and service 

Since the food is being sold online, just like Amazon, there’s a higher expectation of finding “value” and a lot of customers are attracted to it. Your pricing may depend on ingredients (eg., organic or regular ingredients, or specific dietary needs like halal or kosher may have higher costs) but make item name or description brings out these aspects so that customers see “value” in the pricing.  However, pricing is totally your decision and you can price what works best for you. Qulinary has data –backed analysis on price of most common menus items and our experts will always be willing to offer you free advice on pricing.


Strategies for a Loyal Customer Base


Rotating Your menu

Since the food is being sold online, and a loyal customer base is the bedrock of a successful business, you need to make sure that your loyal customers stay interested in your menus every week enough to order from you every week. Ideally, you should have a balance of “standard” and “special” items every week, so that loyal customers are motivated to buy from you every week.

Many times, you can also make “themes” in the menu (esp around a festival in your community, a major sports event or even the school holidays) which can have a special set of items.

A healthy theme

Our customer base is mostly busy working professionals. They often seek healthy home-style meals which allows them to eat delicious healthy food without spending time of cooking. So it is always recommended to keep a healthy theme in your menu. Feel free to specify your ingredient source if you get organic ingredients, or fresh from a farmers market. This adds value to your menu and customers appreciate these specificities. Additionally, we would want that you stick to healthy ingredients once you have posted your menu as healthy option. Remember, your menu and your words that you choose to describe it, and how you stick to your words, goes a long way to build credibility with customers.

Keep Track of your Calendar

Keeping track of the calendar and planning ahead of time can help you attract customers much better than others. One of the advantages of an online system, is the flexibility in menu items, and you should do your best to highlight special items, festival specials and others that can keep customers attracted and interested to your menus. Plan things around the major activities in the lives of your core set of customers, and think ahead of what they would need at those times - ultimately, there’s no substitute for listening to your customers needs. 

Happy Cooking!