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Why You Need a Digital Wine List, the Wine App of the Future

May 1, 2020
QR Code Menu

Using digital wine lists will increase your wine sales up to 20%. Close to 100% of smartphone users have the ability to scan QR codes. And do people use QR codes? The answer is a resounding yes.

We will not blame you if you stop reading right now, having uncovered the truth. QR-based digital wine lists make money.

But we advise reading on. Because, while that’s the most eye-popping reason that digital wine lists are a smart move, it’s not the only reason. Digital wine lists are the future because they objectively improve on paper wine lists in numerous ways. Let us count them.

First, they’re far more hygienic than paper menus. As we’ll see, paper menus are surprisingly, almost inconceivably, dirty. Second, they’re agile. They allow bars and restaurants to manage their menus in real-time and easily update content. Third, they’re just straight-up cheaper. You’ll be eliminating paper and cutting printing costs.

And lastly, the big one, they increase sales. They make your wine selection more accessible. That accessibility—the feeling that wine isn’t pushing them away, but welcoming them—encourages more people to buy. And those who already would have bought to spend more.

Let’s look at each of the four a little closer to get a better feeling for why QR-based digital wine lists are the right move right now.

Digital Menus Are Far, Far More Sanitary

According to OpenTable, 75% of consumers will not visit a restaurant with a negative review about its cleanliness. While that obviously speaks to the impact of reviews, it also locates consumers’ values. They want it to be clean.

And they’re right to. A study concluded that a restaurant menu can contain 185,000 germs per square centimeter. To put that into perspective, a decently-maintained public toilet has roughly 1,000 germs per square centimeter.

It seems hard to believe, but it makes sense. Public toilets are cleaned fairly frequently. Menus aren’t. Because they’re paper and it’s hard to clean them without ruining them.

In fact, menus are cited as the second dirtiest thing in restaurants. Behind only high chairs and booster seats. Restaurant cleaning checklists can help, but this solution requires a fundamental change.

Paper isn’t easy to clean, and it isn’t easy to protect. Screens, on the other hand, are. A durable touch screen on a tablet or smart device displaying a digital wine list can be quickly and easily disinfected and polished. A single wipe will do it.

But some digital wine lists go even further. They don’t require your guests to touch anything. The cleanest, most inexpensive ones utilize a QR code menu. They generate a QR code and your guests scan it with their smart devices. Then the wine list pops up on their phone. It’s entirely contactless and the perfect menu for the new standard of menu cleanliness.

And, it may sound like an overreaction, but a wine list with a single stain on it can ruin your carefully-curated wine ambience. If you phase out paper menus, you’ll eliminate the risk of alienating—and potentially infecting—guests.

Menus Apps Offer Real-Time Menu Management

With a cloud-based wine bottle app or wine app, you’ll have completely dynamic wine list management. A strictly web-based portal allows you to import existing wine lists and update their contents at the speed of the internet. You don’t need to download or install anything. You don’t need to manage multiple platforms like iOS or Android. Your guests will just point their phones at a QR code, a link opens up in a web browser, and voilà. A wine list. And any time someone is unable to scan a QR code (which is rare), it's a quick fix. All synced immediately with your wine inventory. The usefulness of this can be broken down two ways.

It Helps You, the Business

Wine lists, especially longer ones, can be an absolute devil to maintain. It’s like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Once you finish ensuring the accuracy of part of your wine list, another has gone out of date. It can be a massive timesuck and constant stressor.

And that goes for all the other information in your digital menu, too. New promotions. Wines of the month. Wines of the season. All that juicy, wonderful, searchable information that makes people love and appreciate wine. That helps you put great deals front-and-center. It’s all yours to change at the drop of a hat. And you can compare the placement of your specials in your digital menu with sales. You can use that data, do some menu engineering, and lean into what's most profitable.

You can save loads of time updating your menu with a wine menu app and be reactive about which promotions or policies (hello, corkage fee) you surface when and where. Not only does it save time, it’s an agile marketing strategy.

It Helps Guests

Not getting what you want is an obvious detriment to great customer experience. If your digital wine list or digital menu is updated and accurate up to the minute, customers won’t be shown unavailable wines. No server or sommelier will ever return to the table explaining that the wine a customer spent a while deciding on is 86’d. No guest will ever be disappointed in such a way again.

Digital Wine Lists Cut Paper and Printing Costs

This is probably the most obvious benefit of digital wine lists. But don’t let how clear the benefit is distract you from how great the benefit is. Here are the two primary ways it saves money.

Menu covers themselves can cost up to $50 each. That’s per cover. And that doesn’t include your menu pages. You can apply this thinking to all the different types of menu you may have. Think about it: table d'hote, a la carte, prix fixe, the list goes on. A dining room of half-fold, full-color menus on matte paper costs hundreds of dollars to replace .

In fact, because of the current hygiene risk, the National Restaurant Association suggests discarding paper menus after every use. If you’re reprinting and replacing your menus as often as you should to preserve health and customer experience, it adds up so fast it’s untenable. We're talking thousands of dollars per year. You will need a digital menu solution to get out of this one. You can do that right now with your wine list.

But a wine app-generated digital wine list, or a digital wine menu from a wine list app, if you prefer to think about it that way, requires only one swipe of a sanitized wipe. That’ll do what a rigorous cleaning (that will likely ruin a paper menu) or wholesale menu replacement does.

Speaking of sanitization, let’s talk about just how dirty paper menus actually are.

Wine List Apps Boost Sales

The reason iPad menus in restaurants, and digital menus in general, have such a concrete impact on sales is threefold. A wine app uses familiar tech, they make wine accessible, and they encourage upselling.

Menu Apps Use Familiar Technology

The usage of mobile devices and tablets is ubiquitous. Think about the last time you used a paper phone book. You can’t remember. People navigate information today using technology. Say what you will about the merits of doing so, it’s the expectation of the vast majority of society.

Meet the public where they are. Use technology to deliver wine information through a digital wine list or iPad wine list app for restaurants. You’ll also give guests more opportunities to interact with your wine list. They can hop on your website and visit it before they arrive. Restaurant technology—specifically iPad menus in restaurants—is the bridge between arcane wine lists and modern expectations.

Digital Wine Lists Make Wine Accessible

Imagine entering a dark wine cellar and feeling the cool air. You watch the lights flicker to life and see bins and racks full of lightly-dusted bottles at rest. All sleeping giants with dignified labels that communicate unique homelands and origin stories.

The wine industry is full of mystique. Rightfully so. Wine is like nothing else on the planet. It engages with our intellects, our palettes, and our sense of community like no other commodity. And when it does, it adds value above and beyond the sum of its parts.

We don’t just drink wine and have a passing familiarity with its growing region. We taste the growing region. We don’t just drink wine with some vague understanding of that wine’s journey from grape to bottle. We smell the winemaking process. It’s a universe that’s begging to be explored and appreciated.

And it’s a shame when it can’t.

Digital wine lists encourage that exploration. When you hand someone a tablet, lit up with crisp, clear words and the freedom to explore page after page of searchable wine inventory, you’ve unlocked a part of that world for them. It’s a much better experience for a guest, and it’s easy to justify spending money on memorable experiences.

Wine Bottle Apps Fast-Track Training and Suggestive Selling

You likely spend a lot of time training your servers on your wine list. Well, they’ll benefit from a lot of the same things your guests will. They’ll be able to effortlessly explore the wine list app, too.

Spending some time playing around with the wine bottle app or digital wine list is like an interactive wine app training. That will give your staff the ability to, if needed, expertly navigate the digital wine list with guests. They’ll become experts on it and be able to quickly and accurately upsell drinks, give recommendations, and provide pairing suggestions.

QR Code-Based Digital Wine Lists Are Easy

Creating a digital wine list using QR code technology is simple. Figuring out how to make a QR code for a PDF is as easy as a Google search. There are some QR code risks involved with using a free online service, though.

All you really have to do is find a service that creates dynamic QR codes for you. Then you'll upload your wine list information, generate the QR code, and display it on QR code templates. It can also help to post helpful information about how to scan a QR code on Android or iPhone, or just generally some information that applies to all devices.

And once you start using QR codes for your digital wine list, you'll find it hard to stop. What are QR codes used for, beyond menus? Check out our QR code strategy. The sky is the limit with QR codes; you can leverage them for an end-to-end touchless restaurant experience.

Do You Need a Digital Wine List? Yep.

You can approach this whole decision from a very binary perspective. Do you want an increase of up to 20% in wine sales? Then you should convert your wine menu into a digital wine list powered by QR codes. It's a much more cost-effective digital menu solution than a standalone menu app. But there are a host of other perspectives to approach it from, too.

Do you want to deliver on the promise of a germ-free dining experience for your guests? You should digitize your wine list.

Do you want to stop worrying about if your physical wine lists on the floor are up-to-date, and stop wasting time and energy wrangling old, inaccurate wine lists? A digital wine list from a wine list app for restaurants solves that problem.

Do you want to finally end the tyranny of never-ending paper buying and printing costs? A digital wine list does that, too. Just saying.

And, finally, do you want to empower your guests to make quick, confident purchasing decisions? Digital. Wine. Lists.

Some of the best restaurants in the world use BinWise to power their digital wine lists and wine list apps. Like The French Laundry, Del Posto, and Michael Mina. If you seriously consider all of this, transitioning to a digital wine list is a no-brainer. If you have even a passing thought that this may be the right move for your business, follow it. It’s a good thought. And we can help.

Book a demo and let us show you how incredibly easy it is to transition to a digital wine list using the premier wine list app for restaurants.