Restaurant apps must offer exclusive features


As restaurants race to capture the growing consumer adoption of mobile ordering channels, many brands have launched apps to meet this new demand for instant convenience. However, while some of these apps have become a mainstay of many diners’ lives, others haven’t added much value.

Tim Weiderhoft, CEO of Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade, a growing fast-casual chain with 13 locations in the United States and abroad, said in an interview with PYMNTS that for a restaurant’s app To be successful, the brand must offer a purpose for using it that goes beyond the desktop web ordering experience. If a brand can’t provide this, it’s best to delay the launch until the app has more to offer.

“There must be a valid reason for a customer to download this app, whether it’s loyalty program connectivity, being able to see more information in other stores, [et cetera],” he said. “What drives the customer to want to keep this app and use it? Unless you can create [an app] it’s convincing like that, I think it’s better to wait.

Granted, some restore apps are more successful than others. PYMNTS’ Order-Ahead Mobile App Provider Rankings, based on a proprietary combination of publicly available information and app usage data to which PYMNTS has access, found that some chains, such as Starbucks and Domino’s , nail it into the mobile app space, while others, like White Castle, fail.

Read more: Order-Ahead mobile app ranking sees triple tie for first place

Go mobile

Certainly, restaurants that offer mobile ordering outperform those that don’t. A study of the PYMNTS 2022 Restaurant Friction Index, created in collaboration with Paytronix, found that 100% of top performing restaurants offer the ability to order online and pick up items in-store via a website or mobile app. On the other hand, only 33% of the worst performers offer the same thing.

See more : Loyalty programs are the best way to get customers to spend more

However, an application that is unpleasant to use can be a deterrent for a large part of consumers. For example, the index also noted that, of the 58% of consumers who do not use aggregators, 12% abstain because they dislike the ordering and payment experience of the application.

“Customers want a seamless, smooth and frictionless ordering experience where they can personalize what they want, communicate digitally and see that what they think they’re getting is what they’re actually getting,” Weiderhoft said.

A light touch

Weiderhoft said it’s important for a loyalty program to both provide a personalized experience and exercise moderation in terms of promotional messaging.

“Having a loyalty program that’s about letting the customer choose what they want and what’s important to them – I think that’s a differentiator,” he said.

This is because different consumers look for different features in restaurant apps and websites. PYMNTS’ November report, “Digital Divide: Aggregators and High-Value Restaurant Customers,” created in collaboration with Paytronix, found that 47% of top-spending and most frequent restaurant customers are motivated by discounts and offers. order directly from restaurants. . Meanwhile, 42% are driven by loyalty programs and 36% by the availability of special items.

Read more: Restaurants hit back at aggregators with promotions and loyalty programs

Additionally, restaurants risk alienating consumers if they bombard them with messages rather than strategically choosing opportune times to surface promotions and offers. Weiderhoft warned against “over-communication” to loyalty members about “promotions or [limited time offers (LTOs)] or anything like that.

The downside of delivery

Although restaurants are significantly less reliant on third-party delivery aggregators than they were at the start of the pandemic, they still face challenges in driving adoption of direct-order channels.

Weiderhoft noted that smaller brands don’t have the same opportunities as larger chains when it comes to incentivizing pickup orders from restaurants’ own apps and websites. He cited the examples of Domino’s initiative to “tilt” consumers to pick up their own food instead of ordering delivery and the moves by other restaurants to offer gift cards to incentivize direct ordering. .

Small brands, on the other hand, are forced to resort to other means. He added that for brands to succeed across first-party and third-party channels, it’s essential to maintain consistency in how they present their menus across all platforms.

Certainly, the strategies that work now may be very different from the strategies that are key to success in the years to come, given the rapid pace of industry transformation.

“What we’re doing now as a restaurant industry compared to what we were doing five, six, seven years ago has already changed dramatically, and that’s pretty cool because the previous 20 years there was much less change,” Weiderhoft said. “So I’m excited to see what the future holds for our industry.”



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