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Learn how mobile apps can promote loyalty programs for your restaurant

Published July 22, 2022

How mobile apps serve as key tools for loyalty programs in restaurants

Mobile applications continue to play an increasing role in our daily lives. Technology is ubiquitous to the way we communicate, engage in commerce, share information and do business with one another. Restaurants aren’t impervious to the rise of technology. In fact, 95% of restaurants believe that technology improves the efficiency of their business, and over 80% are utilizing apps for restaurant ordering and online orders on their websites.

So why are more restaurants turning to online food ordering apps to promote additional sales? Well, not only do they streamline back-end efficiencies and bolster monthly sales, but restaurant ordering apps can also increase customer loyalty with a number of key features.

Apps help reduce order errors

We all know that person who orders the specialty burger but requests no mayo, no pickles, no onion, extra lettuce and a gluten free bun, slightly toasted. These special requests complicate orders. They can be difficult for a cashier or server to document and enter correctly into the POS system during a loud, chaotic dinner rush. A robust kitchen solution that can handle orders from different sources, online ordering systems or apps help eliminate this kind of problem. You can program your app to have checkbox options, allowing customers to more easily customize their orders and enabling your kitchen staff to more accurately accept those orders and prepare dishes accordingly. As a result, order accuracy goes up and so does overall customer satisfaction — a fact that will keep them coming back to your restaurant’s app!

Apps help build better brand awareness

Designing online food ordering apps or an online ordering tool for your restaurant’s website gives you the unique opportunity to layer in key elements from your brand.

For example, Starbucks has one of the more famous restaurant ordering apps. Since one of their major brand elements is community, their app has enables customers to share rewards points or send gift cards to their friends. These small details help your customers internalize the elements of your restaurant’s brand that are important to them. Your restaurant will then come to the forefront of their minds when they’re browsing through restaurants' branded mobile apps, thinking about what they value and making decisions about where to order dinner. 

Your website or mobile app can also lead to more followers on your social media pages, where you can update customers on the latest changes to your menu, app or restaurant in general.

Apps enable a custom ordering experience

Restaurant ordering apps make it easy for customers to browse their orders via a user-friendly interface. They also allow you, the restaurant manager, to customize your customers’ experience. These apps store historical data on customer orders and preferences, and you can design your application to have a “Last Time You Ordered” or “Suggested Menu Items We Think You’d Like” section based on your customers’ order histories. When your customers open your restaurant’s app to order dinner, they’ll be intrigued by this custom interactive menu. This can drive increased sales to more menu items. Customers will be more loyal to restaurants who provide them with easy-to-pick options that feel unique and personalized.  

Apps increase your restaurant’s online presence

Having an online ordering platform also helps boost your restaurant’s overall online presence. Using an online ordering app makes it easier for customers to quickly and seamlessly provide a rating or review either on the app or on a well-respected site like Yelp. This is crucial at the present moment — now more than ever, diners are referencing online reviews when making a dining selection. They want to know if the service is excellent or if the food is superior to other comparable options in the area. By having an online food ordering system, your restaurant can boost its online ratings more easily, bolstering customer confidence in your establishment as a result.

Apps can facilitate in-app loyalty programs

Online ordering systems and apps not only allow your customers to easily place mobile orders, but they can also be designed to incorporate an in-app loyalty program. If your restaurant has a rewards program, you can link it to your ordering app so customers can easily track their rewards with their online orders. This feature gamifies the dining experience for your customers; they’ll be more inclined to continue ordering from your restaurant because they can see their reward points going up with each incremental purchase, whether it's a carryout or delivery order. Juan Fernando at La Parilla is looking to launch an integrated application for his restaurants. “We have so many people that are so loyal that they would like to have those reward points,” he said.

Loyalty programs are one of the most effective tactics for gaining and sustaining long-term, loyal customers, so the ability to integrate your rewards program to your online ordering app provides significant benefits for your restaurant.

At a time when customers have a million food options right at their fingertips, building lasting customer loyalty is more important than ever. By utilizing online ordering systems and apps, your restaurant can improve order customization and customer autonomy over the ordering process while also increasing overall brand awareness and local restaurant perception. Creating a mobile ordering app for your restaurant can help drive long-term customer loyalty during these ever-changing times.

Related: How Havana Savannah grew their loyalty base with their mobile app.

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