Online ordering of food is heating up, as consumers use third party online ordering apps like Grubhub, DoorDash, and Skip the Dishes. Many restaurant owners are now seeing the benefits of offering their own app for customers to use, especially those with in-house delivery.
Adam Shorter, owner of Cosmo’s Pizza in Colorado, offers an online ordering app to his customers. His restaurants are located in close proximity to university campuses, and he feels that keeping ahead of the technology curve is important to his customer base. “Ease of use plays a big role, and tech is a big part of ordering for that group. We’re not a tech company, but we want that level of technology for our customers,” he told us in a press release.
Ramon Collado, owner of Mama’s Pizza & Grill, also offers online ordering via an app to his customer base in Pennsylvania. For him, having his business logo visible on his customers’ phone home screen was priceless.
For both of these companies, offering an online ordering app for their customers was a branding, and ease-of-ordering, decision. When deciding if you want to offer an app for customers, and selecting a provider, there are a few things you should consider:
Ordering from your restaurant needs to be easy.
We’ve covered this before when discussing online ordering platforms, but it’s just as true for online ordering apps. The more difficult it is to place an order, the more likely it is that customers will abandon the effort and order from one of your competitors. The retail sector has known about and studied “cart abandonment” for online shopping for decades now, and it’s something that delivery restaurants also need to examine.
Speed, accuracy, and simplicity are all things you should look at when examining a potential app. The easier it is for your customers to place an order, the more orders you will receive.
Ensure the downloading process is simple.
It shouldn’t be a convoluted process for your customers to find, download, and start ordering from your app. When selecting an app provider, make sure the app will be available on both Google Play and Apple App stores.
Can you integrate with the existing technology solutions in your restaurant?
When you select your online ordering app provider, the first thing you need to consider is how you are going to receive the orders placed through the app. Are they going to go directly to your point of sale? Work with your POS company to determine what app providers they have existing relationships with, and ensure all of your orders will go directly into your POS.
Then consider your reporting. Will order information be sent to your reporting software, whether through your point of sale or some other method? Being able to monitor the number of orders coming through your website versus other channels will help you make the right decisions for your restaurant moving forward.
Plan to advertise your app to your customers.
Customers won’t download the app if they don’t know about it, so you need to have a strategy in place to promote it. As much as you wish it would, your app probably won’t appear in the top ten lists of most popular apps on the Apple App Store. You need to promote it to your customers the same as you do your online ordering website. A few popular methods are:
Krazy Karl’s, a pizzeria in Colorado, regularly advertises their app to their followers on Instagram and Facebook. You can use both paid and organic posts, but remember to follow social media posting best practices and advertise sparingly. You can find more of our tips on using Instagram for restaurants here.
Box Toppers and Pizza Boxes
Just like advertising your weekly specials, social media accounts, and website, you can send out flyers and box toppers about your new app. This will get your message out to your best customers, because they are already ordering from you. If you accept orders from third party delivery apps, this will also reach those customers and encourage them to switch over to your app.
Alert the Press
A new app for your business is a story. Contact your local news and media outlets and let them know that you are offering a new method for your customers to order. We covered ways to attract media attention in the post Grabbing the Media’s Attention: How to get press coverage for your pizzeria.
Remember, real estate on your customers’ phones is a precious commodity. Look through your own smartphone, and examine what kinds of apps you’ve chosen to install. If you don’t often use an app, do you remove it? How much storage space is available on your phone? How organized are your apps, and can you easily find what you are looking for? These are all factors that your customers take into account when choosing whether to download and keep an app on their smartphone. If you want your brand on their phone, you need to give them a reason to download it.
There are a lot of benefits to releasing your own online ordering app. Creating a strategy for selecting the right provider, and for promoting your app, will help your restaurant maximize return on its investment.
Posted on Wed, Oct 02, 2019 @ 08:10 AM.
Updated on June 15, 2020 @ 8:38 PM PST.
As the Marketing Specialist for SpeedLine Solutions Inc., Elizabeth is the Managing Editor for On Point: The Restaurant Technology Blog. Have an idea for an article? Send her a message!