Restaurant apps are all the rage, with KFC becoming the latest chain to announce plans for integrating mobile ordering into their business model. According to a poll by USA Today, going high tech is at the top of restaurant owners’ lists. More than half of restaurant owners plan to invest in technology in 2013. Meanwhile two in five fast food customers would view menus and order via smartphone apps if they had the opportunity.
In a field as competitive as the restaurant business, staying ahead of the field is more important than just keeping pace. Now that mobile ordering apps are becoming more commonplace, the next step is to be sure your app is getting the most out of its features and capabilities.
- Offer real value and convenience Flashy, fun new apps come and go but the ones that stay on a user’s homescreen are the ones they use the most often. These are apps that provide useful services and increase convenience like navigation, social sharing apps and of course mobile ordering. The prospect of an opportunity to bypass the line at a take out restaurant during a busy lunch rush is too good to pass up.
- Make it worth their while Sometimes the slightest discount or benefit can tip the scales in the mind of an indecisive customer. Apps that are equipped to work with digital coupons, special offers and promotional codes are a wonderful way to get those wishy-washy customers in the door.
- Allow customers to personalize their experience While they are easy to use for anyone, mobile ordering apps work best for loyal, regular customers. Loyalty programs allow repeat customers to earn rewards. The best mobile ordering apps allow users to save favorites from menus, making life ridiculously convenient when placing those regular, repeat orders. Another great feature is social sharing and feedback. This gives customers the opportunity to voice their opinion and share their experience with their social networks, the restaurant or the app developer.
- Reach customers in the right place at the right time With user permission, mobile ordering apps have the ability to track when and where customers (or at least their smartphones) were when they ordered. It is also possible to track how much they usually spend, what they typically order and a wealth of other pertinent information. Restaurants can use this data to provide customers with hyper-specific offers and reminders. People tend to take that little screen with them wherever they go, knowing the best places, times and types of offers can make promotions that much more effective.
- Put that data to work Rich data from a mobile ordering app can help a restaurant get to know individual customers, but it can also help to acquaint with an entire mobile customer base and with the restaurant itself. Examination of broad stroke data like customer habits, peak hours and what menu items are popular with which customers can help a restaurant business plan more effectively.
There are a billion active smartphones in the world and the number is expected to climb to two billion by 2015. This makes a mobile ordering app an essential tool for any restaurant that wants to connect with all of those smartphone users. Just having an app isn’t enough. The winners of the mobile ordering game are the restaurants that learn to take advantage of an app’s features and maximize the app’s potential value.
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