Here’s Why Your Restaurant Mobile App NEEDS an Upgrade

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November 14, 2020

‘Where should I eat?’ has been replaced with ‘Where should I order?’

Millennials want everything on their mobile phones. And restaurants, keeping up with this trend, are all opting for mobile apps to reach out to a larger audience and establish a digital presence within this digital world we carry everywhere. With this, the competition in the market has toughened. With this, the restaurant apps too are no longer just about the prices or menus or engaging customers for a sale.

There is a higher purpose to restaurant mobile apps now – standing out and retaining these customers, keeping them engaged, and coming back for more using remarkable features and upgrades i.e mobile wallets, promotions, loyalty programs, and more!

And that’s exactly why some of the most polarized restaurant brands like Starbucks, McDonald’s, Domino’s Pizza, TGI Fridays, Burger King, Chipotle, KFC, etc. are constantly updating or developing their mobile ordering apps to win this restaurant app war.

The war is no longer about having a restaurant app, it’s about updates and upgrades, building the largest and most loyal customer army. Discussed below are some major reasons to update your restaurant mobile app.

#1. To Appease the Hungry Millennials (& Gen Z) & to Build a Loyal Customer Army

No customers, no business. Therefore, you need a customer-centric approach. Make your regular – why not all? – customers and feel special, observe them become your best brand ambassadors. How do you make your customers feel special?

Customer preferences change over time and to keep up with these changing preferences and to appease your customers you have to keep your app updated. Introduce fun new features to keep them happy – and loyal!

Millennials and Gen Z make up for the biggest market share right now. How so you ask – the oldest millennial at the moment is in his or her late 30’s. This is coming from a millennial – yes, we’re not teens anymore. And the youngest millennial has to be in their late 20’s as per the chart. This population has the most buying power with their jobs and businesses and adult life. Millennials and their younger siblings – Gen Z – as a matter of fact now make up a majority of the US population. And these two groups are who you are trying to appease with your restaurant mobile app upgrades.

This breed of customers has an overwhelming appetite for convenience and here’s how Starbucks is doing it. Before we go ahead, here’s an awesome stat – Starbucks has the most regularly used app (48%) among a list of major quick-service restaurant chains.

Wondering why is their restaurant mobile app so popular with their loyal customers?

From ordering and making payments in advance to providing free iTunes songs, the Starbucks app delivers a user interface that is both engaging and welcoming, just like the coffee monolith itself.

So what is Starbucks doing to make its app a “must-have, must use” for its loyal customer army:
For starters, it gives away digital goodies. Starbucks has recently updated its app with a fun new feature that lets you reserve the cups or tumblers to buy for pick up. This is definitely exciting, considering, how most drinkware collections offered by the Seattle-based coffee monolith are either seasonal or limited edition. Next time you’re road-tripping and want to pick up a local Starbucks cup to keep as a souvenir you can simply order it without going into the store.

Starbucks is always coming up with exciting offers involving the use of its app. That’s why about 21 percent of Starbucks purchases are carried out by its mobile app – with an estimated over 11 million people currently subscribed to their app.

From ordering and making payments in advance to providing free iTunes songs, the Starbucks app delivers a user interface that is both engaging and welcoming, just like the coffee monolith itself.

#2. Because Well-designed Restaurant Apps Lead to Higher Sales & ROIs

Well-designed apps translate into higher sales and ROIs as well as help strengthen relationships with your customers. If your app is user-friendly (paired with other awesome features), why wouldn’t a user take pleasure in using it? Your customers care more about convenience. The ‘C’ in customers stands for ‘Convenience’.

We’ll get back to lauding Starbucks later, here I would like to highlight Burger King as a noteworthy mention.

FYI – CitrusBits redesigned the Burger King app helping it get to the top of its game. Fancy digging into the case study?

So, despite its cheeky advertising, Burger King had a badly reviewed app. Customers were ‘not’ satisfied with the older app.

It was only after CitrusBits updated its app – designed a hotter user experience, implemented GPS, utilization of offline user environments, sophisticated image handling, data synchronization, a robust admin portal, among other updates – that its monthly user acquisitions climbed to 400,000, and monthly engagements to a1.3 million, with a 1000% ROI. An app upgrade that took its reviews from an average of one to two stars to a solid 4.5!

It turns out that sometimes all your restaurant mobile app really needs is a good upgrade. It can be anything ranging from data synchronization, GPS to the utilization of offline user environments, and minimum download size.

The upgrade can be a better loyalty program or a friendlier user interface if that’s what your app is lacking. One of the reasons why restaurants need mobile apps is to increase brand awareness. However, if your mobile app hasn’t been updated in a long while and stops working midway through an order, the only thing your regular customers will be aware of is a ‘bad app’.

So ask yourself, what feature is ‘hot’ in the market right now? Is your restaurant’s mobile ordering app lacking a push notifications feature? Is your competing restaurant appealing to customers by highlighting some special days’ deals? Is it that time of the year again when you hit or tap the update button? Has your app lost its charm amidst a swarm of other restaurant apps? What hot features have your competitors implemented?

FYI – Domino’s another top-rated quick-service restaurant app
As per Domino’s chief digital officer Dennis Maloney, here’s why,

“We were one of the first companies to have a voice interface in our apps. We were one of the first to do the Twitter order. And we have a zero-click app that allows you to order without basically doing anything at all. Pizza’s fun, so these things should be, too. It’s about pushing the boundaries to create fun experiences that reinforce who we are as a brand. These should be things that move the brand forward in a big way long-term. Plus, they’re fun to work on.”

#3. To Win the Restaurant App War (with Industry Hot Features in Your Arsenal)

If you run a restaurant you are already on the battlefield – a hypothetical food war battlefield – as your regular customers have a plethora of restaurants including your very own competitors to choose from. A restaurant mobile app that is customized to your customers’ needs will guarantee that these customers appreciate their user experience and share it with friends and family, providing your restaurant a word-of-mouth advertising.

So what industry hot features can you add to your restaurant mobile app to increase its value?

  • Gamification (Starbucks is a classic example!)
  • Push-notifications
  • Geo-location (kind of like Burger King)
  • Voice interface (i.e Domino’s)
  • Mobile wallet – order & pay
  • POS Integration
  • Delivery options for curbside pickup or contactless delivery
  • AR food menu

FYI – Domino’s Pizza encourages its customers to download its app to obtain the ‘Piece of the Pie Rewards’. It lets the consumers order pizzas and earn points that can be redeemed for free menu items.

Your customers love personalization. We all do. Humans in general are attracted to personalized experiences.

And Starbucks knows how to create a quality personalized experience for its coffee customers ad, therefore, it keeps its app and marketing strategy updated. And this is why it has the most religiously used app compared to many major restaurant chains. Paired with the fact that we all need a good cup of coffee customized to our taste before we begin the day. And that is what keeps its loyal customers keep coming back for more.

Not only does the app make you pay with your iPhone, but it also lets you top up your Starbucks Loyalty Accounts with a few taps. Their loyalty program too is a big selling point. And your morning coffee trip has also been gamified by the app.

Picking a grande earns you a digital star. With five stars you can get to the green level, which is great for free refills and coupons. Earn 30 stars and you get a free drink for each 12, plus more bonus deals. And its loyalty program gets even stickier – it provides instant coupons for free coffee or snacks and directly connects to Starbucks’ hot loyalty program in real-time.

All-in-all if you want to win the app war, you have to keep your customers happy. Because your customers see your restaurant mobile ordering app as something that was designed to solely accommodate them – make their lives easier.

In the end, a few words – having an app today no longer cuts it. Every other food truck or small restaurant has either an app or avails the services of a food aggregator. Therefore, your restaurant has to have a good mobile app that fits or exceeds the distinctive customer experience your hungry customers desire!

And if that doesn’t sound convincing enough, you can always reach out to CitrusBits for a free consultation or ping us to get a kickass mobile app developed for your restaurant business.

CitrusBits is an award-winning mobile app development agency with deep expertise in the restaurant industry. Having previously built mobile apps for Burger King, Zen Classics, and FullyRaw, CitrusBits is also building a mobile ordering app for a respected national QSR with dozens of locations across the US. CitrusBits is well-versed in the end-to-end process of creating a mobile ordering app, including the following aspects: menu systems, location-based services, mobile ordering, POS integration/creation, delivery/logistics integration, and loyalty/rewards. If you represent a QSR or restaurant chain and are interested in learning more, please get in touch for a free consultation.

And if you need to understand the development process of a restaurant app or explore what more features can you add to your restaurant app, you can explore our downloadable resources here. Until then, Bon Appétit!

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