Managing Your Menu: How to increase the Average Order Size of Online Orders

Guest Post

This is a guest post from Brian Feldman of OneStop Kitchens. OneStop Kitchens creates virtual food halls that help restaurants expand their geographic reach to sell more meals at no additional cost!

If online orders are an important part of your restaurant’s sales, boosting average order size can unlock profits you didn’t even realize were there.

Running a restaurant is hard and the rapid shift towards online ordering has created both opportunities and challenges. A delicious menu brings in customers but you need more than that! Recognizing that customers order differently online, and building your menu around those differences can drive higher ticket value and can be one of the most effective ways to increase restaurant profitability.

Why does Total Order Value matter?

Total Order Value is the net price of a customer’s bill and is often an indicator of how effectively a restaurant designs their menu. Small increases in Total Order Value (Average Order Size) can have a big impact on sales. 

It's often easier to encourage customers who are already making an order buy an additional item than it is to find an entirely new customer. For example if you have 100 tickets per night and you can move your average order size from $25 to $30, you’ll bring in an additional $500 per night. On the other hand, If you keep the same $25 average order size you’d have to create 20 more tickets per night to see the same increase in sales.

Effectively designing your menu for higher total order value

Building a menu may seem simple, but identifying consumers' primary and secondary needs can help you better construct your menu to optimize for higher order value and profitability. Below we’ve listed some ideas around things to make sure are included on you online menus in order to drive up total order value.

Primary Menu Items

  1. Appetizers: Offering an assortment of sharable items for 2-3 people is a simple primer for customers to order more. These tasty items are often lower in cost than entrees yet can sell for a similar price point.
  2. Entrees: The bread and butter of what you’re offering. These should all share a similar price point and be placed near the top of your menu. Offering each entree at a base price with add-ons is a strategy that increases item customization and increases total order value.

Secondary Menu Items

  1. Sides: A compliment to your entrees, sides typically follow a two-tier pricing structure, full price if ordered alone and a discounted price when ordered with an entree.
  1. Entree Add-Ons: Different from sides, these items are ordered as a part of your entree. Guac at Chipotle is the most iconic example of this. Building your entrees with a base plus model reduces the initial entree price and allows customers to increase the price while customizing their meal. Offering menu add-ons that “make sense” increases the customer spend and often improves customer satisfaction. The McDonalds combo meals or Chipoltle’s guac surcharge are both prime examples of this idea.
  1. Desserts: Most customers will not order dessert but offering a few simple, pre-made options gives the option to those who are interested.
  1. Drinks: Bottled beverages are an easy win to increase order value. Customers want their whole meal in one order and will frequently order a drink with their meal. This goes for both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. Many cities and states loosened their laws around alcohol sales during the pandemic to help restaurants and bars, so adding take-away craft beers, bottle wine, or even canned wines could be a revenue booster for your restaurant.

Understanding what the customer wants

Your customers are coming to your restaurant or online storefront for one purpose, to have a delicious meal. You already offer that but don’t you want them to experience more of your menu? Identifying opportunities where customers can upgrade their meal or try a new menu item creates win-win scenarios where you’re increasing sales and menu turnover and the customer have a more satisfying meal.

Focusing on total order value basically relies on the principle that it’s easier to sell more to an existing customer than find a new one. When a customer is interested in eating at your establishment (Congrats!) make sure to give them the opportunity to try as much of the menu as possible.


Focusing on total order value basically relies on the principle that it’s easier to sell more to an existing customer than find a new one. When a customer is interested in eating at your establishment (Congrats!) make sure to give them the opportunity to try as much of the menu as possible.


About Dashy Dash

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