Quick-service restaurants are ramping up their digital capabilities to compete with fast-casual eateries, according to a study from L2 Research. The firm found that 95 out of 126 brands offered a mobile app, 57% of restaurant apps included pickup ordering and only 33% offered coupons that encouraged consumers to repeatedly visit.
According to Deloitte Digital, 40% of consumers prefer to order their meals online, and they spend 26% more than they would have in-store when ordering from fast food outlets, and 13% at fast-casual restaurants. "Mobile app customers tend to order more often and have a higher average ticket than in-store customers," said Curt Garner, chief digital and information officer at Chipotle. "Rapid reorder of favorite and recent orders is a great example of one of these features," reported AdWeek (March 12)
Even casual sit-down restaurants are trying to capitalize on the mobile craze. Applebee's redesigned its mobile app and online ordering platform to make to-go ordering faster and more accurate. Additionally, the company introduced new packaging designed to keep food hot. Scott Gladstone, Applebee's vice president, strategy & off-premise, notes that the company plans to continue to innovate in the to-go space to become more competitive in off-premise eating.
Mobile technology development and integration is a top priority for restaurant franchise owners and franchisors, according to a survey conducted by TD Bank. At the 2017 Restaurant Finance and Development Conference in Las Vegas, NV, the company found more than half of quick-service and fast-casual restaurant brands surveyed plan to integrate smartphone/tablet apps and/or mobile ordering, or develop a mobile app in 2018. Respondents noted that mobile ordering could help expand their customer base, eliminate the need to hire more staff, and speed up the food preparation, cooking and delivery process.
Beyond just mobile ordering enhancements, restaurants are looking to reach out to their customers in a slew of ways. Survey respondents' top investment areas include: adding locations, developing social media strategies to target Generation Z, and creating or enhancing customer loyalty programs. Menu enhancements/changes and meal delivery services are also expected to become key business strategies.
Mark Wasilefsky, Head of Restaurant Franchise Financing Group at TD Bank, says, "We live in a mobile society in which consumers expect that ordering food, like any product, should be quick and easy. Smart franchise owners will take advantage of the latest technology to reach customers through their devices."
Jennette has been with The Food Institute since 2013. As Marketing Director, she is responsible for promoting all Food Institute books, seminars and webinars, as well as writing and editing the Food Institute’s annual publications, such as Food Business Mergers & Acquisitions, The Food Industry Review and The Almanac of the Canning, Freezing, Preserving Industries. Additionally, she writes for and edits the daily news update, Today in Food, and contributes to the weekly Food Institute Report. She has a background in non-profit and environmental marketing, programming and writing, and graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a degree in Communication Studies.
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