Some technological advances stand out in the annals of history. Game-changers like the invention of the wheel or the printing press altered the very course of human history. But as momentous as they seem now, folks at the time of those inventions might have thought, “Meh, I’m not getting one of those ‘wheel’ things, it seems like it’s only marginally better than my ‘drag sticks.’”
In hindsight is safe to say the invention of the wheel sped things up around the old prehistoric job site. And in the way that the printing press democratized knowledge and literacy, mobile devices and near-universal connectivity are emancipating people’s free time. Mobile apps may not be able to move mountains, but they can move people through a line, which is a happy circumstance for restaurant and customer alike.
Apps > Mobile Web
To reach customers on every level, a restaurant needs to offer an app to its customers. In order to overcome the constant storm of innumerable applications available smartphone users, a good app needs to have one quality: usefulness. In the app game, this quality is synonymous with value.
Mobile restaurant apps are as practical as they come. And double down on the benefits, because apps can simultaneously offer value to the restaurant and its customers.
Most every smartphone has a web browser and quality connectivity is becoming more and more ubiquitous every day. Since smartphones offer easy access to the mobile web the first order of business for an app is to outshine whatever experience the mobile web offers. Indeed research incicates that the rich experience is driving ever-increasing app use while mobile web use remains flat.
For something a user does often (like, say, ordering food) the speedy, fluid experience of a mobile app blows the mobile web out of the water. An app can integrate with device hardware like GPS, social media apps and even the camera. For complex interactions such as placing a take out order, native apps will far outperform the UX on the mobile web.
Utility = Value
The old “billboard” marketing mentality is extinct in the mobile space.
Few users are likely to waste phone memory on an app that doesn’t consistently provide either some utility or “fun” value to them. And useful apps have more staying power than games, as studies show that users tend to remove such frivolous apps soon after they install them.
The ideal mobile food ordering app offers plenty of both.
The ability to save favorites, receive coupon codes, build points toward promotional discounts and connect to feedback and support is extra valuable to the best kind of restaurant customer: the regular. Established regulars will fall in love all over again and such features can entice occasional visitors to convert into steady fixtures.
Data + Flair + Social Media = Powerful Marketing
An app this useful is hard to resist, but what about the fun factor? One plus is the opportunity to spice up marketing efforts with more creative campaigns. By accumulating promo points, app users can unlock discounts and other benefits. Of course the restaurant can design the point rewards to suit its needs. Mobile devices are always connected. An ordering app can offer data tracking of a user’s precise location, time and ordering tendencies. A restaurant can use this data to create precisely targeted marketing efforts.
Games are fun, but it doesn’t really make sense to incorporate a game about, say, unhappy winged creatures into a mobile ordering app. Interest in games tends to be short-lived, and the best apps have staying power. There are plenty of ways to spice up an already handy experience.
Social media connectivity lets users share their experiences with online friends, while providing a bit of visibility to the restaurant’s brand.
Some people just like to set goals: flair allows for just that. Pieces of flair are digital buttons, badges, ribbons or other insignia that allows users to admire their virtual achievements and show them off to friends. Customers can earn flair for anything from placing late night orders to visiting several locations within a specified time frame. The customer gets a warm fuzzy feeling of affirmation and a bit of status among online peers. Restaurants can design flair to instruct customers on how to better use the app by rewarding them for saving a favorite, or they can cross promote a new location by offering flair for visiting within the first week.One-time promotions can take advantage of unique circumstances to bond with customers. Our Valentine’s Day promotion encourages customers to include the word “love” in the notes of their order to unlock the promotion. It is a fun way to acknowledge the day and a way to send a positive vibe to the people working behind the counter preparing food. Everybody wins!The Future is Now
The technological leaps and bounds of any era might seem unextraordinary at the time, kind of the way that a speeding train feels like it is standing still from the inside. But ground breaking innovation is always knocking at the door. The last decade alone has witnessed the dawn of widely available GPS technology, rapid advances in genetic science, alternative energy and of course the proliferation of the smartphone.
Smartphone apps are a unique combination of a utilitarian device and an interactive medium; naturally smartphone users are going include mobile food ordering in their virtual toolkit.