When restaurants join DoorDash to offer pickup and delivery, one of the first steps as a partner is to make a menu. Your menu serves as a tool to entice customers and drive online orders within the DoorDash app.
This article will cover different ways you can change and update your menu to provide your customers with a better experience, ease the burden on your kitchen, and drive customer loyalty and growth.
If you use one of our POS integrations, DoorDash will automatically pull your menu details directly from your POS system. When you need to update to your menu, be sure to make changes directly in your POS — not through DoorDash.
If you don’t use a POS integration, you can create a menu or update it using the menu maker tool in the DoorDash Merchant Portal — use this how-to guide as a reference.
Delivery menu maker best practices
Taking a thoughtful approach to your menu design and employing the following menu creator techniques can help restaurants increase delivery sales and drive customer loyalty.
1. Organize your menu into categories
In the digital world, customers can’t look through your window to see people enjoying your delicious, beautifully plated food. This means your online menu is doing the heavy lifting when it comes to attracting customers — especially people trying your restaurant for the first time. So let’s make sure your menu is working as hard as you are. Categories also help on small smartphone screens, which is critical as more customers place orders on their mobile devices.
When it comes to ordering food online, customers want a menu that is easy to navigate and helps them decide what to order. One of the simplest ways to meet this need is to split your menu into categories, much like you would do on a printed or display menu. Separate out appetizers, entrees, sides, drinks, desserts into different sections, and if you serve different types of cuisine — for example, sushi and Mexican — consider putting those into separate categories as well. Including a Popular Items or Best Sellers category is a great way to promote signature dishes and profitable items. And if you offer dishes for special dietary needs, highlight them in Vegan, Gluten-Free, or Keto categories. DoorDash also includes category descriptions, which allow you to provide more details or context on the menu categories.
2. Be selective in your online menu
Sometimes less is more. A lengthy online menu with many options can easily overwhelm customers and contribute to “decision fatigue.” With that in mind, it’s generally best practice to narrow your delivery menu to about seven or fewer items in each category.
Streamlining your menu makes it easier for customers to decide what they want — and if there is a smaller, curated set of options, you’ll also reduce the burden on your kitchen. When it comes to paring down your menu, keep your most popular items and any low-cost / high-value options, and cut items that don’t get ordered frequently or cost a lot to prepare but don’t generate much return on investment.
3. Add photos to your menu
A few images go a long way — adding photos can increase delivery volume by 15%! Photos help you stand out against the competition and make ordering easier and more intuitive for customers. If you don’t already have some images of your food on your menu, now’s the time. This step-by-step guide has great tips for taking appetizing, high quality photos of your food and adding them to your menu. You can also request a (free!) photo shoot with a professional photographer, paid for by DoorDash. Find a step-by-step guide for submitting a request here.
Whether you hire a professional photographer or take a DIY approach, consider these key factors during your menu shoot: lighting, plating, composition, accuracy and clean backgrounds. For detailed tips on menu photo best practices, read our blog post How to Take Amazing Menu Photos for Your Restaurant.
4. Provide thorough descriptions
Your DoorDash customers don’t have one of your servers or staff members nearby to answer questions or tell them what’s special about a particular dish. That’s why it’s extra important to include thorough item descriptions throughout your menu.
To entice potential diners, craft descriptions that go beyond a list of ingredients and give a preview of the guest experience. Provide a vivid teaser of the dish’s taste, appearance, and texture. After all, which are you more likely to order — a cheeseburger or a 8 oz. certified organic, grass-fed beef burger with melted sharp cheddar?
Read our blog post How to Write Mouth-Watering Food Descriptions for Your Online Menu for more ways to make your delivery menu descriptions pop.
5. Add modifiers
A recent analysis of DoorDash menus found that customization is a top factor for merchant success. Allowing reasonable modifications helps restaurants attract a wide range of customers who want to tailor orders to their taste.
Including modifiers on your menu — or options for customers to add to or change a specific item for an additional fee — is an excellent way to increase check size. There are a couple of different ways to incorporate modifiers into your menu:
The option to add a side, dessert, or drink to any entree
The ability to add toppings or other additions (like extra protein) to items like salads, bowls, burgers
Multiple size option to choose from
6. Create bundle packages for larger orders
If your customers are looking to order for a group, bundled options make their ordering experience much faster and less complicated. Whether it’s dinner for two, a full family-style meal for 6 or a package (like five pizzas for the price of four), bundles make life easier for customers and kitchens.
7. Think seasonally
People associate the change of seasons with different flavors and cuisines. In the colder months, customers often seek out warm, hearty dishes with a rich complexity of spices. In the summer, people lean toward lighter, brighter options, often with seasonal produce. In every season, look into what produce is available locally and how you can incorporate those ingredients into new or existing menu items.
8. Offer pre-packaged meals
Many people don’t have time to grocery shop or prepare meals, so pre-packaged breakfasts, lunches, or dinners that can be reserved and picked up ahead of time are a huge time saver. If you have the capacity, you can experiment with different options to see which your customers like best. Since these meals may be eaten over the course of a few days, it’s best to include items that keep and reheat well.
9. Sell pantry staples and provisions
If you have popular speciality items — like sauces, salsas, pastas, and spices — consider offering them for purchase alongside your regular menu items. This is an easy way to reach more customers and potentially increase your revenue.
10. Include alcohol
Adding alcohol to your DoorDash menu can increase average check size by $5-10. If you already serve alcohol in your restaurant and would like to add it to your DoorDash menu, visit the Help section of the Merchant Portal or reach out to DoorDash Support directly.
Menu maker: How to make a menu in the DoorDash Merchant Portal
Now that you’ve learned delivery menu best practices, below are instructions for how to create a menu using the DoorDash menu maker in the Merchant Portal.
1. Use day-parting to create multiple menus
Some restaurants offer different menus throughout the day — a practice that we call “day-parting.” This applies to restaurants offering different meals (e.g., breakfast, lunch and dinner) or perhaps limited-time items for time-sensitive special occasions.
If your restaurant employs this practice, you should create multiple menus to reflect the items served at different times of day. This ensures that customers only order time-sensitive items during the correct business hours.
For example, if you offer lunch specials that are only available between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., but the rest of your menu is available any time, you should create an “All Day” menu that includes everything but the lunch specials, and a “Lunch” menu that includes all items.
2. Set your menu hours
It’s critical that your menu hours line up with your business hours. DoorDash has default menu hours, but make sure to review and update them to match your different menus, if you have more than one. Avoid menu hours that overlap, which will confuse customers.
3. Add menu categories
You can add new categories to your menu using the Menu Editor in the Merchant Portal. On the left side of your menu, click “Add a category” at the bottom of the category list. Next, type in the category name and description and click “Save.”
4. Add menu items
The next step in the DoorDash menu maker process is to add each of your menu items. In general, we recommend streamlining your DoorDash menu to focus on higher-margin items, best-sellers and dishes that travel and reheat well. Choose dishes that capture the essence of your restaurant but can still be enjoyed in a home setting. If an item is unpopular or unprofitable, remove it from your delivery menu. You should also consider the prep time — can you make the dish in advance? If not, does the required prep time allow you to meet hungry delivery customers’ expectations?
For each item, you must include the name, price, description, photo, and any modifiers. Each modifier can have its own cost (e.g., you can charge $4.00 to add chicken and $8.00 to add salmon). You can also set rules for modifiers — for example, requiring customers to select one modifier in order to place an order, or limiting their modifiers to no more than two.
We recommend sorting and reordering your menu items to feature the more popular ones at the top. And if you run out of an item or are only offering it for a limited time, you can temporarily make it inactive — with the option to re-activate it later.
5. Highlight your dishes with beautiful menu photos
Photos are one of the most important features of your DoorDash menu. Make your delivery menu irresistible with high-resolution, appetite-inducing photos of each of your dishes — and not just your entrees, but sides, desserts, and other add-ons. If you’d like to refresh your menu photos, DoorDash offers all new partners a free professional photoshoot.
Once your photos are ready, you can add them to your DoorDash menu through the menu editor in the Merchant Portal. To upload photos, hover over the menu item, select “Edit” and then “Add Image.”
Each photo you submit must be approved by DoorDash; this process can take up to 72 hours. If your photo gets rejected, click the image to find out why. Common reasons for rejected photos include small sizing, poor lighting, distracting backgrounds, and more. These parameters help to ensure you put your best foot forward in your menu photos.
6. Review default menu settings
To help your restaurant get activated as quickly as possible, DoorDash provides a few default options for common menu items. For example, if you do not specify a list of salad dressings, we include these default options: No Dressing, Ranch, Italian, Blue Cheese and Vinaigrette. Make sure to review each menu of these settings and update or remove them as needed.
7. Take note of restricted menu items
DoorDash does not support the sale or delivery of any tobacco products, including related items such as JUUL devices and vape pens.
However, DoorDash does facilitate alcohol delivery in jurisdictions where that is allowed. If you operate in a state where alcohol delivery is permitted, you can add alcohol to your DoorDash menu by following the process in the Merchant Portal’s self-serve menu editor, or submitting a Menu Update request by clicking the “Help” button.
8. Preview your DoorDash menu
As a final step, it’s a good idea to preview your menu before publishing it for the first time or making any updates. In the Menu Editor, click the preview icon in the top right corner to see what your menu will look like on the DoorDash website.
Track menu performance in the Merchant Portal
The Insights Tab in the DoorDash Merchant Portal includes detailed analytics on your menu performance, operations, and customer feedback. Armed with this data, restaurant operators can take actions in the DoorDash menu maker to drive growth.
Merchant Portal data includes net sales, total orders, average ticket size, and top-performing menu items — which you can view by specific timeframes or store locations.
In the Menu Performance tab, you can track the most popular items to understand what’s trending in your restaurant and driving the most sales over time. DoorDash tags your top ten highest performers and provides personalized recommendations to help you increase sales — for example, by adding beverages and desserts to your DoorDash menu to increase ticket size, and to ensure that all of your popular items have menu photos.
In the Customer Feedback tab, you can view and respond to customer reviews in real-time and offer them discounts to turn them into repeat customers. You can also sort reviews by tags to see which items happy customers tagged as “Tasty” or unsatisfied customers tagged as “Tasted bad.”
For more information and tips on the key metrics restaurant operators should monitor, visit our blog 13 Key Restaurant Numbers and Metrics that Impact Profits.
Make your menu work for your restaurant
Your menu is a critical part of your guest experience. Take the time to build and optimize your DoorDash menu using our tools and analytics as well as industry best practices. To get started, log into the Merchant Portal to update your menu or sign up for DoorDash today.