How to Choose an iPad Wine Menu Solution for Your Restaurant

By now you’re hearing about iPad wine lists or iPad drink menus popping up at restaurants around the world.  There’s a large number of solutions out there to choose from and finding the right solution for your restaurant can be difficult.  Here I’ve broken down some of the top considerations for you to think about when evaluating tablet menus for your restaurant.

1.  Menu Customization

Every restaurant’s menu is different and you’ll find one of the biggest differences among iPad menu apps is the level of customization and flexibility you’ll have.  In many cases, the iPad wine app will have a standard template that everything must fit into and if your competitor down the street uses the same software, their menu is going to look identical to yours.  That defeats much of the purpose of using iPad wine and beverage menus – to differentiate your restaurant.

Uncorkd iPad wine menus provide maximum flexibility because we know every restaurant is different.  Here are some questions you should consider asking when evaluating menu software:

  • How much control do I have over the design?  Can I change menu colors, fonts, icons and images?
  • Can the menu design be changed at any time and will I have to pay if I want to change it again in the future?
  • Can I setup and organize my menu however I like and have the sections of my choice on the front of the menu?
  • Can I create my own menu categories and serving sizes (especially important if you offer multiple glass, pour or bottle sizes)?
  • What types of items can I display on my menu?  Wine, beer, spirits, cocktails, food, cigars, desserts, after dinner drinks, sake, etc…?

2.  Drink Database

One of the most important aspects of digital menu software is the information and this is a big pitfall for many iPad wine list apps.  You don’t want to be spending dozens or hundreds of hours entering in your own data.  It is tedious and you have better things to do in the restaurant.

Look for a solution that has an integrated beverage database with information on wines, beers and spirits.  Better yet, test drive the database or ask for a demo first.  Pick out some drinks on your list and see how quick and easy it is to find in the database.  If it takes you three minutes to find each drink in the database, you’ll be spending way too much time in the software.  Just because a solution has a database, doesn’t mean it’s quick and easy to use!

3. Security and IT Support

Fortunately, creating an app is as easy as ever today.  But developing solid software for the hospitality industry isn’t.  Make sure the company you decide on has thought through security, application deployment and support for their solution.  You want a solution that:

  • Protects your data.  Uses encryption and SSL security for users.
  • Has redundancy in their cloud infrastructure and performs daily backups of all data.
  • Runs their own servers and doesn’t rely on a $10 shared hosting account to run your software off of.
  • Has in-house engineers to respond to all issues quickly as they change from the application or the operating system (Apple for example is constantly making changes that developers need to stay on top of).
  • Can manage devices for you, including deployment and monitoring of the devices and application.  See if they can also automatically deploy updates for you.

4. Ease of Use

You want to find a solution that is dead simple to use.  It should be intuitive to figure out.  Be careful of software that requires you to click through too many screens to get to what you want; that’s the sign of a bad user experience.  When you want to add something new to your menu, it should be one screen and done in 30 seconds or less.  Otherwise you’ll be spending hours managing your menus.

There are many flashy interfaces for customers to browse iPad menus now too.  Why they may seem cool, just be sure they provide a good user experience.  Can your customers find what they want, quickly, even if they have never seen this app before?  Is the user experience something they are already familiar with or does it require them to learn something new?  Diners aren’t used to swiping left and right a hundred times to find what they want on a menu, so don’t make them do that on your digital menu, even if it seems really cool.

Final Thoughts

There are many great options out there for finding a tablet beverage menu solution that’s right for your restaurant, but be careful of these pitfalls.  There have been dozens of iPad menu software applications in the last few years and I can’t tell you how many calls we get from restaurants who went with a cheap option or their local company, only to find out they shut down the servers six months later and left them hanging.  Or they signed up with a cheap solution only to realize they had to spend 100 hours of their own time programming it.

We’ve put together an iPad wine menu product comparison chart that highlights the functionality available in Uncorkd compared to many of our closest competitors.  If you want to further discuss what may be the best solution for you, reach out to us and we’d be happy to talk .

Josh Saunders