Many restaurants and major chains like McDonald’s and Starbucks are now building their own mobile apps to offer a practical and custom ordering experience to their customers.
Mobile apps offer many advantages over traditional websites and online marketing: App features like push notifications, geolocalized & data driven deals enhance customer loyalty & offer ultra valuable free advertising for businesses that thrive on recurrent clientele like restaurants & specialized stores.
Here are some new statistics about the way mobile apps drive sales for restaurants:
- Visits to U.S. restaurants where guests paid by mobile app increased by 50% in the last 2 years
- Customers who place an online order with a restaurant will visit that restaurant 67% more frequently than those who don’t.
- Orders placed via smartphone and mobile apps will become a $38 billion industry by 2020
- 45% of consumers say that offering mobile ordering or loyalty programs would encourage them to use online ordering services more often.
But for many restaurants that aren’t international chains like Domino’s Pizza or McDonald’s, getting customers to download a mobile app sounds like a daunting or almost impossible task.
But is there a way an average local restaurant or restaurant chain can leverage the power of mobile apps to increase their business & customer loyalty?
Certainly. This article will explain the advantages of partnering with a 3rd party mobile app for restaurants and the things to consider before doing so.
Does it make sense for your restaurant business to build its own mobile app solution?
Should custom mobile apps be left to international or big restaurant chains ? Not necessarily… but restaurants owners should definitely think twice […] before investing in their own mobile app solution.
Partnering with an existing mobile app solution such as BillMaster makes much more sense for most restaurants, and these solutions are now very affordable (sometimes free to start) and customizable to your brand and business needs.
For local restaurants, Social media platforms like Instagram & Facebook used in a proper way are far more cost-effective marketing tools than investing in a brand new mobile app. Social Media gives customers the opportunity to talk about, share pictures and leave reviews of their restaurant experience, which is a great way to increase sales and gain free advertising.
If you’re seriously considering building an app or partnering with a third party restaurant app, here are some things to consider before doing so.
The advantages of restaurant mobile apps
Modern consumers love their smart phones and they live a fast paced lifestyle. They expect a convenient and personalized experience. Successful restaurant mobile apps combine these features to enhance customer satisfaction and build trust and loyalty.
Restaurant apps let customers browse the menu, order food, earn points for loyalty programs, and take advantage of customized deals & rewards.
For example Starbuck’s mobile app lets customers order before arriving so they can skip the line and pick up their food without having to wait in line to pay.
For restaurant owners, apps enable businesses to enhance returning visits, integrate a feedback section to improve their offerings and services, and track important metrics such as order volume and peak ordering times to optimize marketing.
Should your restaurant build a mobile app or partner with a third party app ?
The idea of building a mobile app for your restaurant might seem appetizing but the truth is users are very selective about what apps they download and use and they won’t download a new restaurant app unless the app provides significant value.
It is also a fact that most mobile phone users usually only have 1 to 2 restaurant apps installed on their phone at a time (Usually third party apps that offer access to multiple restaurant services)
Building your own mobile app is expensive, and usually takes quite a bit of time and effort to see a positive ROI. These types of investments are usually out of reach for most local/small businesses.
On top of that, the maintenance costs of a mobile app are very high and many apps quickly fall into disuse due to lack of maintenance and continuous development since nowadays technologies and devices evolve at an exponential pace.
Unless your customer base is very engaged regulars, mainly millennials with high income jobs, building a mobile app for your restaurant might not be the best investment.
So how do you know if you’re a good candidate for a mobile app? Restaurants that could benefit from building their own app have the following traits:
- Franchised restaurant chains with multiple locations across a single province/town or country.
- Restaurants that already utilize social media and online/text marketing to it’s fullest potential
- Restaurants who’s core clientele is mainly young adults & millennials (think of starbucks)
- Heavily branded restaurants with a big advertising budget
Independent or mom-and-pop style restaurants that don’t have sufficient funds to spare for R&D shouldn’t go into debt to develop a custom mobile app solution.
Our recommendation for local restaurants or small restaurant chains
- Build a good online presence: Ensure that your website is mobile-enabled, so people can make mobile orders
- Diversify your marketing channels: Ensure that your website is SEO optimized and active on all social media platforms
- Partner with third party apps: Apps like BillMaster and DoorDash can help you leverage the cutting edge features of mobile apps without having to risk investing large amounts of money into your own app.
To conclude, mobile apps are gaining more and more traction in the restaurant industry for a reason: they offer convenience and personalized experience/rewards to customers. The key takeaway is that most restaurants don’t need to have their own app in order to offer a modern and customized dining experience . Partnering with a third party app like BillMaster can offer restaurant owners (and their customers) most of the advantages of mobile apps, without the exorbitant cost of developing one.