Should your restaurant get its own mobile ordering app?

ChowNow's Mobile Ordering Apps

Mobile ordering apps have been rapidly growing in popularity over recent years. Between 2016 and 2018, usage of food ordering apps grew by 140 percent. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of ordering technology, apps have become critical for restaurants.

The reasons for this are clear: On-premise dining has been severely restricted, and both guests and operators are prioritizing social distancing and contactless ordering. The majority of consumers have both downloaded more apps to minimize contact and have downloaded at least one new food and drink app.

For many restaurateurs, there’s never been a better time to get their own branded mobile ordering app. Let’s take a closer look, though, and see if it’s the right choice for your business.

Do you want to stop paying commissions on every order?

When many people think about restaurant ordering apps, third-party marketplaces like Grubhub and Uber Eats come to mind. As popular as they are, these apps aren’t the best deal for restaurants. They may offer exposure and some level of convenience, but that comes at a sizable cost. 

Third-party commissions—which can run as high as 40 percent of each and every order—add up. Many restaurants find that they’re paying these middlemen to sell their food, losing any meaningful connection to their customers—including their data—in the process.

Meanwhile, branded ordering apps are mobile apps created just for one restaurant brand, putting the focus on their menu and providing a direct connection to their digital customers. These types of custom restaurant mobile apps are a commission-free revenue stream that boosts loyalty. In fact, among ChowNow’s restaurant partners, branded apps lead to a twofold increase in repeat orders.

ChowNow's Mobile Apps Lead to a 2x Increase in Repeat Orders

Is customer loyalty important to you?

The COVID-19 pandemic has made guest acquisition harder, but has also created more opportunities and more urgency for restaurants to solidify loyalty. As ChowNow Senior Restaurant Success Manager Shadeh Tabatabai notes, “Restaurants need to engage with the loyal customers that are already ordering from them. That’s a much easier order to get.”

Consumers’ budgets are far more limited, and when they do dine out or get takeout, they often choose restaurants that they know and love. They both want to support their favorite restaurants during this crisis, and feel that they’re being safe. In fact, during the pandemic, 80 percent of guests are turning to restaurants that they trust.

When trust and loyalty are paramount, guests order directly from their favorite restaurants, instead of going through a third-party marketplace. Despite the massive increase in orders from third-party apps, restaurants still see the majority of their off-premise sales come through their own direct channels.

These trends in loyalty intersect with the mobile ordering app increase in popularity. According to a Restaurant Business interview with Mobiquity VP of Strategy and Analytics Brian Levine, the pandemic presents “an opportunity for restaurants to bring self-service to a much greater number of people than they were ever going to…Restaurant chains typically use ‘massive advertising campaigns’ featuring free items to get people to use their apps. The pandemic did it for free.”

This trend means that your restaurant has a strong chance to easily strengthen guest retention, visit frequency, and order sizes by offering a mobile ordering app.

Quote from Restaurant BusinessRestaurant chains typically use massive advertising campaigns featuring free items to get people to use their apps. The pandemic did it for free.

Checklist: Is a mobile ordering app the right choice for your restaurant?

Against this backdrop, consider these questions.

  • Are you currently on a third-party app that’s sending you a considerable amount of orders?
  • Do you want to stop paying commissions and start collecting valuable customer data?
  • Do you have website ordering, and has it been successful?
  • If you have analytics about your online ordering, do you have a strong percentage of orders coming from mobile devices?
  • If you don’t have online ordering yet, do you have high takeout volume?
  • Do you have a loyal customer base?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to step things up. Seize the chance to jumpstart another channel that lets you take commission-free orders, gather insights about your diners, and communicate directly with them.

ChowNow’s mobile apps give you a direct line to your customers, so you can showcase your brand, drive more commission-free orders, and strengthen customer relationships. Take the next step by talking to ChowNow’s online ordering specialists.


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