How Restaurants Design Their Online Menus To Get You To Spend More

If you prefer to order takeout online rather than by phone, you may want to read this. Your favorite restaurant’s online menu could soon become another concern if you are worried about digital privacy. Remote eye-tracking technology, which analyzes how people navigate online menus, is being used to generate revenue. 

Revenue Management Solutions developed the ground-breaking technology in collaboration with the Center for Marketing and Sales Innovation (CMSI) at the University of South Florida and CMSI Director and Study Primary Investigator Dr. Rob Hammond.

Revenue Management Solutions tried the eye-tracking tech in an online study of TGI Fridays’ menu. The study found many ways that restaurants can increase their online sales.

Remote Eye Tracking Uncovers Selling Opportunities

Revenue Management Solutions tested the eye-tracking technology in an online menu study with TGI Fridays. The study found many ways that restaurants can increase their online sales.

With the Center for Marketing and Sales Innovation (CMSI)’s help, iMotions developed a new technology that assisted in collecting information for the online menu study. Thus, participants could use their webcams to keep track of data as they ordered from TGI Friday’s online menu.

The data was closely examined using emotional artificial intelligence tools. Additionally, participants were asked to recall their “ordering journey” and “total spend” before and after the study.

What were the conclusions of the online menu study? One of the most important findings from the remote eye-tracking research was the presence of a persistent blind spot to the left side menu. In their navigation of TGI Fridays’ online menu, participants followed a “T” pattern. This meant that participants missed half of the items on their online menu.

Furthermore, the online menu study provided evidence of a distinct “buyer journey” that may lead to suggestive sales opportunities as the buyer engages with the menu. 

There were four key phases in each “buyer’s journey,” allowing suggestive selling to take place.

  • Familiarization: Participants in the study scanned the menu
  • Exploration: Participants narrowed down their choices and evaluated them further.
  • Affirmation: Participants would add items to their shopping carts while browsing the menu to add or search for additional items.
  • Confirmation: Participants completed their checkout.

The remote eye-tracking study revealed that participants tended to change their orders more frequently during the exploration and confirmation phases of the buyer’s journey. Moreover, Ryan Garner, the data architect for Revenue Management Solutions, also noted that “Yet most suggestive selling happens during checkout. If these results translate across many menus—and we anticipate that they will—it could be a game-changer for operators.”

Remote Eye-Tracking The New Normal?

The Chief Experience Officer at TGI Fridays, Sara Bittorf, is noticing a positive shift in how consumers interact with online menus. Moreover, she asserted, “The research has already given us tools to improve the guest experience and increase menu profitability. We’re looking forward to exploring further menu engineering insights as the research proceeds.”

However, more research is necessary before remote eye-tracking technology can gain traction. Furthermore, the technology has to be examined as to how it is implemented for navigating different brands’ menus. 

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