How Technology Friendly Should a Restaurant Chain Be?

By Bijan Shahrokhi in Uncategorized

When you look at some of the trends in the market, you’ll notice that there are many things happening at the same time, all of which affect marketing and store operation in one way or another. Here are some of the current trends:

  • Social Media
  • Mobile website Mobile application
  • Mobile based loyalty
  • Mobile based payment
  • Online ordering (mobile or desktop)

While some of the items in the above list are a clear high priority for some restaurant operators (e.g. Online Ordering for the Pizza chains), in most cases the merchant struggles to determine what how best to utilize resources.

Here is our take on how you should prioritize the trends mentioned above:

6) Mobile Application

Statistics from the last two years prove that users are not downloading apps provided by a specific retailer or restaurant chain. Starbucks and Amazon are the outliers mainly because they are more of a utility app, meaning customers interact with them every day and, therefore, are willing to download the apps.

5) Online Ordering

This is still far from reaching a level where it makes sense for restaurant chains, other than pizza shops, to get involved. Almost no online ordering provider has yet been able to come up with a customer experience that is scalable, bringing high customer satisfaction to the users. It will take another 2 or 3 years for mobile solution providers to develop a good online ordering experience that integrates well with store operation.

4) Social Media

Social Media has been a trend for a few years now. Most store operators have already developed their plan and as a result, will not have to do anything extraordinary today to continue leveraging social media for marketing purposes. As a result, social media does not require a high amount of attention, other than executing existing plans, in the short term.

3) Mobile Payment

With iPhone’s introduction of iPhone PassBook and Google’s introduction of Google Wallet, we all know that mobile payment is a very hot topic today and will continue to be in the coming years. Some of the leaders of this trend have already started leveraging mobile payment to speed up customer transaction and improve customer experience. Startbucks just announced that they now do 4.5 million mobile transactions per week. If you have already started developing or offering a mobile website and a mobile based loyalty program, your next priority must be mobile payment. There is great content out there about some of the experiments run by Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, KFC and many other restaurant chains.

2) Mobile Website

By 2015, the majority of Internet surfing will be on mobile devices. If you have not started developing a mobile friendly website, you should start right away. A non-mobile friendly page upsets all those customers who visit your website using their smartphones.

1) Mobile Loyalty

Turning impulse buyers into loyal customers is the most lucrative course of action a restaurant chain can take today. It offers a direct return on investment and all the merchant needs to offer a great mobile based loyalty program is already available. The average customer is currently enrolled in 17 physical card based loyalty programs. The mobile loyalty space is still almost a green field and no one knows how many mobile based loyalty programs an average customer will subscribe to. What’s certain is that those who offer a mobile loyalty program first will be the ones with the first- mover advantage. So, if you are a restaurant operator and have not started thinking about offering a mobile based loyalty solution, this should be your highest priority.

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