Picture This: Boosting Online Ordering Sales with Photographs

Online Food Delivery concept with computer isolated
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The old saying goes “a picture tells a thousand words,” but in the food industry, that’s a conservative estimate.  Flattering pictures of your menu items can entice even the most thrifty spenders, leave your customers’ mouths watering, and ultimately lead to more sales and more profits for your restaurant.  It’s no exaggeration to say that the right picture of the right dish can single handedly boost your revenue more than almost anything else you can do for your business.

So what exactly does a good food photo do for your restaurant, and how can you incorporate food pictures into online ordering systems?  And what constitutes a “good” foodpic in the first place?  Read on for all of the answers in our guide to boosting online ordering sales with photographs.

Benefits of Pictures in Online Ordering Menus

If you are already an Orders2me partner, than you know that our online ordering portal allows for a lot of menu customization, so that your customers see exactly what you want them to when they submit orders for pickup or delivery.  But maybe you haven’t taken the time to incorporate pics of your food yet.  Trust us, invest the effort ASAP.

A good picture of one of your signature dishes helps you highlight things that you want to sell.  If you list one of your most popular items without a photo, and put a less popular item next to it with a beautiful pic, it’s almost a guarantee that you will see the less sold dish gain popularity.  In this way, you can use photographs in your online ordering system to strategically highlight dishes that you want to promote.  Try taking good pics of a dish that you love, but doesn’t get as much love, and see the orders spike.

This strategic advertising is a lot more powerful than you might expect.  If you have the time to update your menu with pictures often, you can try cycling through what dishes have pictures attached, and learn about how your costumers react to pics of your food.  You can strategically push different dishes at different times, all by simply including a nice photo of a dish on your menu.  As long as you have the time to invest, get creative with how you highlight different things, and see if you can perfect which items should have pictures with them for optimal revenue.

Of course, you can choose to go for the other extreme, and list a picture next to every dish that you list on your menu.  While this technique defeats some of the strategic possibilities of using pics, it is also likely to boost your overall sales.  When people see nice pictures of food, they naturally get hungrier, and may try appetizers, side dishes, or even entrees that they wouldn’t have ordered otherwise.  Using good picture liberally won’t let you experiment on your diners, but will likely see all of your orders go up.

Taking Good Food Pictures

Now that you recognize some of the many benefits of incorporating pictures into your online ordering menu, it’s time to clear something up.  What exactly makes for a “good” pic, and how can you photograph your menu in order to most attractively highlight your food?

First, if you can afford it turn to a professional photographer.  The combination of skill, good camera equipment, and good editing and post production work will have your food look its absolute best.  If you do have a little money to invest in advertising or promotion, hiring a freelance photographer to take some top notch shots of your food isn’t a bad idea.

For restaurant owners who don’t want to spend the money on a pro, there are plenty of photography tips and tricks that you can incorporate to take food pictures that still look great.  First, pay a lot of attention to lighting.  Harsh overhead lighting can cast a lot of shadows, and make your food look sickly and unappetizing at the same time.  But if there isn’t any lighting at all, your ingredients won’t be distinguishable.

To get the perfect lighting, try buying a specific light for your food photography.  A basic search on any online shop for “photography light” will point you in the right direction, or you can go into a local craft or photo shop to get the expert’s advice.  Once you have a nice light, don’t position it right above or behind your food.  Instead, position it to the side, where it will illuminate dishes without drowning them out.

And, if you have the programs and time to do so, experiment a bit with adjusting your food images after you take them.  Play with contrast and brightness especially to find a good balance that makes your food look great, and then put those photographs on your online ordering system menu to see the profits soar.

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Rafi Cohen, a graduate of Baruch College & Brooklyn native is the Co-Founder @ Orders2me, an online ordering platform that gives restaurant owners all the features they need to grow their business in the digital age.

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We are on a mission to help local restaurants thrive in the new digital economy. Our blog is designed to give local restaurants best practices from some of the top restaurants in the world today. 


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