Customization in Your Pocket – Restaurant Apps Done Right

man at restaurant looking at phone

By Jonathan Greenlee, VP and General Manager, Sales & Marketing, Sparkfly

Inflation, gas prices, a lack of consumer confidence…oh my! Restaurants are in the middle of a perfect storm as they continue to recover from the pandemic, tackle today’s uncertainty, and of course, work tirelessly to attract and retain loyal customers. It’s no wonder so many businesses are embracing tech to stay on task.

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

According to a recent survey from Restaurant Business, 57% of middle-income households anticipate buying fewer takeout and dine-in meals when they can’t tolerate any additional erosion of their spending power. That means restaurants have a critical mission — make life better for buyers and continually develop new ways to entice them. Restaurant apps are certainly one way to do it, since they give you a spot on consumers’ most-used device, right in their pocket.

Restaurant Apps Done Right

McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Starbucks were among the most downloaded QSR apps in June 2022, as published here in QSR Magazine. The first on our list actually captured the first on that list, in part because of a commitment to drive consumers to mobile with attractive incentives to budget-conscious crowds. As these guests continue to crave value, the promise of rewards, coupons, and special promotions at the tap of a finger lead to more and more downloads. In fact, the top 36 quick-service apps achieved their highest quarterly download numbers ever in Q2 2022 at 46.9 million. Whether it’s McDonald’s digital summer camp, Chipotle’s $500 Guac Mode giveaway, or Wendy’s free food on Fridays in February, customers are paying close attention to what’s being offered. This trend was even more noticeable in June, when Taco Bell grew its month-over-month downloads by 82.1%, according to Apptopia,— an even bigger spike than they saw from their Taco Lovers subscription earlier this year.

An important note — QSRs that are top-performers on digital have apps that provide both basic functions and unique features designed to uplevel the customer experience like out-of-stock alerts, exclusive items, or tracking and customizing a meal. And speaking of customization…

Now Let’s Consider Customization

There’s no denying the influence of social media sites like TikTok on food trends — and it’s spilling over into restaurant apps with requests for customized orders. But what happens when all the hype evolves into hyper-customization? The Culinary Edge offered some suggestions in a recent article here on QSR’s website on how to manage potential mayhem by embracing guest innovation (within reason — opting in and out as you see fit); making popular orders limited-time offers; using interactions to inform brand engagement and foster collaboration; and optimizing your operations.

When it comes to operations, the numbers don’t lie. According to the State of 2021 Mobile Report here on Data.ai, sessions inside food and drink apps expanded by 105% in 2020. In addition, a report from Sensor Tower’s post here revealed that downloads of restaurant-branded apps rose to 91% in 2020. It’s all proof that consumers want the customization and convenience of restaurant apps.

What This Means for You

Restaurant apps coupled with customization, which hopefully your business can learn to curate and find a sweet spot for success, translate into increased customer engagement and ultimately, enhanced sales. What better way to weather the perfect storm?!

SIGN UP TO SKILL UP
The All Access membership allows you to discover 500+ hours of best in class thought leadership