With the COVID-19 pandemic still remaining a hot button issue, quick service restaurants (QSRs) are looking for new ways to reach their customers and keep the revenue flowing without exposing their customers to risk. And on that score, mobile order ahead apps are one of the best options out there.
Even before the pandemic, the best mobile order ahead apps were making waves in the consumer market. Mobile represents 60% of all digital restaurant orders today, and fewer than half (44.5%) of QSR customers prefer to place orders through in-person cashiers.
But how can QSRs get in on the action? What separates a regular app from the best order ahead apps on the market? Let’s look at some of the most important features to include.
1. Layout and Navigation Efficiency
The unifying feature of every great order ahead app is simplicity in layout and navigation. It needs to be easy for customers to use across browsing, adding items, and checkout.
Consider your application layout and how you set up the ordering experience. Is the interface intuitive for adding new products to the cart? Can customers easily apply promotions and daily deals? What about trending options? Does your layout make it easy to browse options and add/remove items as desired? These are basic elements for any ordering application, so make sure you have an idea of what type of experience you want to create.
If you’re stuck, the right application vendor can weigh in on layout decisions and help you design a branded app that meets your needs while providing a one-of-a-kind experience for your customers. Don’t neglect this essential first step! According to Google’s research, 57% of users who shop with mobile apps agree that their favorite apps are easy to use and navigate.
2. Re-Ordering Convenience
Convenience is a key aspect of any mobile application, but it’s particularly important for ordering ahead apps. The whole point of ordering ahead is to streamline the process of getting food; to avoid lines, handle payments remotely, and to leverage loyalty programs in an easy way. As such, the best order ahead apps offer simple features for filling your cart, re-ordering favorite items, or even re-ordering entire purchases based on past behavior.
Put some thought into how you want to set up this type of experience for your customers. Regulars may enjoy re-ordering the same items with just a few clicks of a button, while others may prefer to add favorite items alongside new ones to mix it up. Make it easy to add items, and while you’re at it, don’t hide prices from customers. Many applications restrict customers from viewing each item’s price until the final cart is complete, but this is frustrating and detracts from the user experience. Remember, convenience is your goal if you want to attract businesses and keep them on board.
3. App Security
Like with any application, security is a must for ordering ahead. After all, you’re asking customers to input their names, credit card information, and in some cases, their delivery addresses. These bits of personal data are vital to protect, no matter what industry you’re in.
In one survey, over half of the respondents expressed concern about application security in their digital interactions with QSRs. This makes it clear that security is a priority for users (though interestingly, this concern didn’t deter users from installing these applications, as installation of restaurant apps increased substantially during the early stages of the pandemic).
If you’re a business owner considering a mobile order ahead app, make sure your integration partner has experience with order ahead app development. There’s no better way to ensure that your business app is developed with security best practices across development, testing, and implementation.
4. Point-of-Sale Synchronization
Some mobile applications require businesses to make manual updates to their mobile inventories independent of their point-of-sale systems. But who has time for that? The best order ahead apps offer automatic synchronization between your point-of-sale (POS) menu and your website/mobile apps. This simple feature makes it easy to update inventory, prices, or promotions in one system with changes applied to every storefront you’re running.
For example, PoppinPay’s mobile order ahead app syncs automatically with the Square POS to ensure that everything stays consistent, no matter what updates you make. This benefits both your customers and your internal teams – customers will know for sure that prices are always as advertised, while your own teams won’t have to worry about updating each interface by hand.
5. Loyalty System Integration
Another must-have feature of the best order ahead apps is simple integration with your company loyalty and rewards program. QSR leaders like Starbucks have made rewards programs a priority and have received substantial rewards for their efforts: As of the end of Q1 2020, Starbucks had nearly 19 million active users in its loyalty program.
Whatever type of promotions you offer, make sure your order ahead app integrates with your current system. For Square users, PoppinPay’s solution offers seamless integration between your application and Square POS. There’s no easier way to bring the benefits of Square Loyalty to a mobile solution – an absolute must for competing in the order ahead space in 2020 and beyond.
Develop the Perfect Mobile Order Ahead App
The above features can all be considered “must-haves” for your app, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list of what the best order ahead apps can provide. To get a more detailed rundown of mobile order ahead features, contact PoppinPay. We’ll take a look at your business and determine what order ahead feature set will work best for your enterprise.