7 Reasons Your Restaurant Needs a Mobile App

31 August 2022

Veronika Nedashkovskaya

Content Manager

Many people associate the term food tech with futuristic innovations like artificial intelligence, hyperautomation and robotics. While all these are real industry trends, food tech also includes something much more tangible and familiar to everybody—food delivery and restaurant apps.

Region-specific websites and applications developed by large chains have been around for a long time. However, a mobile app for a neighbourhood restaurant is no longer a luxury, considering the recent market tendencies for supporting local suppliers and communities. Would such a project be worth the investment?

Why Do Restaurants Need Mobile Apps?

Why would a local dining place spend money on mobile app development if it’s easier to enter a food delivery marketplace with ready infrastructure and a target audience? While it is indeed difficult to compete with well-known marketplaces, they set certain limitations. First, the larger the platform is, the easier it is to lose to the competition. Second, marketplaces typically don't provide much room for customisation and introduce fees and strict rules. Moreover, according to Bluedot's fifth State of What Feeds Us report, 57% of customers “have used mostly or all restaurant apps compared to third party apps”.

Developing proprietary digital products helps entrepreneurs grow their companies exclusively in the chosen direction and fully accommodate the customer needs. Here are 7 benefits of mobile apps for restaurants every business owner should consider.

#1 Loyal Customers

Loyalty programmes are a widespread practice in the service industry and retail. Although having a loyalty card doesn't oblige a customer to stay loyal, it still provides certain advantages. 

The mentioned-above Bluedot's report shows that the option to track and earn loyalty points is the reason to download a restaurant app for 57% of respondents. 52% would do that to access offers and deals. And 90% of people would download and use a restaurant app more frequently to get better prices.

First and foremost, offering your customers bonus points programmes strengthens your value proposition and can turn into a competitive advantage.

Pro Tip. Don't make your customers fill in lengthy questionnaires to become a member. Most people will drop it halfway. Instead, introduce easy sign-up options through email, Google/Apple accounts or social networks. 

A lightweight mobile app is a great alternative to physical carriers. People easily lose or forget them. Sometimes, there’s simply no more room in the wallet to keep all plastic cards. But the best part is that an app is a direct channel of active interaction with the customer.

You can tell your customers about promotions and new items on the menu, remind them about yourself to inactive guests with gifts or simply send them birthday greetings. People love feeling special.

#2 Permanent Presence

Most marketing strategies aimed at increasing brand awareness involve a considerable budget. These activities usually include having a website promoted on the Internet and social media, paid ads and even featured articles in local media sources. However, consumers need to stumble upon the brand’s name at least ten times to start recognising it.

If a user has your app installed, they will continue seeing it on their home screen even without using your services. That’s when the ten-times goal is no longer a challenge.

Pro Tip. Take the app’s icon seriously.

  • It should look equally good on different devices (different sizes and formats).
  • Use company colours.
  • Explore the icons of competitors and try to stand out.
  • Don’t use words in the icon—the system will display the app’s name.

Certainly, your restaurant app is not TikTok, and people are unlikely to visit it every day. But you also have different objectives. Being permanently present on your customers’ home screens alone is already an achievement.

#3 Upgraded Booking System

In pre-Internet times, a booking system was often a nightmare for both guests and staff. People wouldn’t show up without cancelling the booking. Managers would need to call all guests to confirm those bookings. Staff wouldn't catch a guest's name because of the noise. These are just a few examples.

Restaurant owners who already have an integrated booking system on the website take the process to a new level. A personalised app streamlines the process as much as possible—a booking with a name and a telephone number is completed with one or two screen touches.

#4 Push Notifications

Although you may find certain scepticism towards push notifications on the Internet, they can become a powerful channel of direct communication with your target audience. Put simply, even if the user doesn’t open the app through push notifications, they still receive information.

Push messages are a perfect instrument of personalisation. Simply tailoring sending times for each user increases reaction rates by 40%, while advanced targeting triples and personalisation quadruples these numbers. People are less likely to be annoyed by push notifications if they receive relevant and useful information.

Why do push notifications work?

  • Smartphones are always in users’ sight.
  • Users can see push notifications on a blocked screen and receive information almost subconsciously.
  • Push notifications are short and easy to comprehend.
  • They don’t end up in a spam folder like emails.

You can personalise the messages by many parameters, from age and food preferences to geolocation. As a result, the information about business lunches or happy hours reaches the right target audience. On top of that, upon installation, the user agrees to receive push notifications. It means they are initially interested in getting your updates and offers.

#5 Advanced Analytics

To sell well, you need to know your customer. A mobile app automates the process of collecting data about your customers and their needs. For example:

  • Login times and days of the week;
  • Category views;
  • Food preferences;
  • Restaurant visits, takeaways and delivery orders.

Analysing this data helps businesses understand the demand and create the offer accordingly. Seasonal menus, the right time for push notifications and customised messages—use statistics to make your offer as accurate as possible.

#6 All Information Customers Need in One Place

One of the benefits of mobile apps for restaurants is to answer the customer’s questions before they even ask. You can provide your guests with all relevant information about your offer and operations, including:

  • Opening times (including seasonal changes, vacations and public holidays);
  • Contacts (email, messengers, telephone numbers, etc.);
  • Term and conditions;
  • Information about products used in food and drinks;
  • Current special offers and deals;
  • Partnerships with local suppliers (farmers, butchers, etc.);
  • A booking form.

And of course, the menu. Many restaurants invest in professional photography to have an appealing visual representation of the food and drinks they serve. The human brain remembers around 10% of information from reading. This number jumps to 65% with pictures. Moreover, studies show that photos positively affect customers' attitudes towards the menu items and the decision to spend money.

#7 Reviews and Customer Feedback

Customers need to be heard. With multiple local and global websites for customer reviews, it’s easy to miss important feedback. Adding a dedicated activity helps restaurants keep up with changes in their guests' behaviour and evaluate customer satisfaction levels. A review section is also an advantageous way to show off the 5-star and overall positive reviews. 

Besides, reviews are a strategically important part of brand positioning. How you respond to feedback, particularly negative, forms your public image. An app makes such a dialogue an easier task. In the end, more than half of consumers expect businesses react to negative reviews in a short time.

You Don’t Have to Go Global

Today, a strong online presence is a must for any business. A restaurant website is vital for Internet promotion and advertising, while an application is a channel of communication with the customers and a direct marketing tool.  After all, it’s essential not only to attract new customers but also to establish a trusting relationship with the existing ones to make them your regular guests.

Available technologies can help you create an application to reinforce an already existing business, from pre-orders and easy payments to loyalty and partner programmes. However, a mobile app for your restaurant doesn’t mean you have to open several locations and become a chain (if it’s not included in your plans). Such local digital products help develop local communities and small entrepreneurs. 

Restaurant mobile app development is a big investment that needs a thought-through strategy and technological expertise. Business owners with little experience often hire several freelancers to save money. In the long run, it usually means spending double budgets to fix everything done wrong at the beginning. To avoid this mistake, we provide our customers with a skilled Dedicated Team and industry-specific market expertise. At Rocketech, we strive to become a trustworthy tech partner and succeed with our clients. Do you feel your business is ready for a new level? Let’s discuss your project. 

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