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10 Amazing Facts About Mobile Order Ahead in 2021

10 Amazing Facts About Mobile Order Ahead in 2021

10 Amazing Facts About Mobile Order Ahead in 2021 600 400 PoppinPay

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers and quick service restaurants (QSRs) were exploring new digital options to better serve their customers. Mobile order ahead is one example, giving buyers the option to call in their purchases ahead of time for the sake of convenience. But in light of the pandemic, options like mobile order ahead have taken on a whole new significance.

In the era of social distancing, solutions like mobile order ahead aren’t mere convenience tools; they’re service options that can help protect customers from germs, expand a QSRs service offerings, and overall, work towards an ordering system that’s quick and safe, even during a pandemic.

Companies who deployed a mobile order ahead solution pre-pandemic were in better shape than some to weather the storm. For these retailers, customers knew the option was available and the investment was already made, making it easy to get users on board. But even if you haven’t yet explored a mobile order ahead solution, it’s not too late. Mobile order ahead is booming in popularity in 2020, and we expect the same for the coming year.

Here are 10 amazing facts about mobile order ahead that detail its current role in the QSR ecosystem and its future in 2021.

1. Online Orders From Food Chains Have Increased 225% Since the Beginning of the Pandemic

Online Orders From Food Chains Have Increased 225% Since the Beginning of the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is set to produce long-lasting changes on consumer behavior, and we’re already seeing the effects. Survey results show a big jump in the volume of online food transactions from both restaurants and fast casual chains since pandemic lockdowns began: Restaurant transactions have increased by 134%, and orders from food chain QSRs have jumped 225%.

It’s not hard to see why. The pandemic is changing the way consumers consider service and what priorities they have when ordering. Pre-pandemic, nobody paid a second thought to standing shoulder-to-shoulder in line with others. But now, and for the foreseeable future, social distancing is the name of the game – and with it, remote ordering options that minimize customer contact as much as possible.

From curbside pickup to contactless delivery, there are plenty of safe ordering strategies out there. But mobile order ahead represents one of the more useful ones for QSRs, as it’s more than just a pandemic-related adjustment. Mobile order ahead solutions, when integrated with your Square ecosystem, offer plenty of new marketing opportunities for vendors, all of which can be deployed and managed remotely. Overall, it’s a great way to support customers who prefer to do their ordering without in-person contact.

2. 88% of Consumers Are Using Mobile Apps to Order Food, Groceries, and Other Products the Same Amount, or Even More Often, Than They Were Before

88% of Consumers Are Using Mobile Apps to Order Food

It makes sense that customers would prefer online ordering options in 2020, but according to a restaurant trend study conducted by Bluedot, mobile apps in particular are benefitting. The data shows steady increases in mobile app adoption for food and grocery orders across the year.

During Bluedot’s first study back in April, 85% of consumers agreed they were using mobile apps more often for food-related purchases. Flash forward three months to August, and the number rises to 88%.

This indicates that, as the pandemic progressed through the summer, consumers grew hungry for simple and safe ordering options that let them support their favorite restaurants without in-person contact. The report notes that many of these new adopters were users who had previously reported using apps less frequently – indicating another shift in pandemic-related thinking. Even those who avoided mobile apps in the past are starting to come around, which is great news for QSRs who make their mobile ordering experiences a priority.

3. 71% of Consumers Agree That Order Ahead Options Have Either “Some” Impact or a “Large” Impact on Restaurant Selection

So far, we’ve seen data related to the growing preference for online ordering as well as app-based ordering. Here, we can see a third trend: Customers prioritize restaurants that allow them to order in advance. According to the data, 71% of consumers agree that even having the option to order ahead can have a moderate-to-large impact on their restaurant choice.

This is big for retailers with dedicated mobile order ahead applications. One of the most challenging aspects of the pandemic for QSRs is the drastic downturn in revenue the industry has experienced since quarantines began. According to RBO, restaurants lost $120 billion in sales in the first three months of the pandemic alone, with many operators posing rather bleak projections of remaining unprofitable through the end of the year. Given the razor-thin margins some restaurants work with, this type of decline is tough to swallow. But that’s why solutions like mobile order ahead are so useful for fighting back.

Regaining market share in the QSR space is a function of competitive differentiation and convenience. Restaurants needs to make their value clear to customers and offer a simple, frictionless experience should they choose to order. According to the above data, ordering ahead options represent our point of differentiation, earning the attention of many customers who might not consider you otherwise. And when combined with phone-based applications that enable mobile order ahead solutions, you have the convenience angle locked down as well. When customers want to order in advance, you can’t beat the ease of a mobile app.

Plus, Bluedot’s above research shows that app customers have a notably higher customer lifetime value rate than those who avoid mobile ordering. Taken together, it’s clear that a mobile order ahead solution can drive significant revenue for your QSR when you need it most.

4. 66% of Customers Have Chosen a Restaurant Specifically Because They Offer a Mobile Order Ahead Option

66% of Customers Have Chosen a Restaurant Specifically Because They Offer a Mobile Order Ahead Option

To briefly recap our above three points, we’ve learned three things so far from our data:

  • Online orders are increasing
  • Mobile ordering is increasing
  • Order ahead options drive business

With this in mind, we can bring everything together under the umbrella of mobile order ahead. Even back in 2017, a majority (66%) of customers chose to patronize a restaurant specifically because they offered a mobile order ahead solution. And while the landscape looks a little different in 2020, we can reasonably assume, based on our above trend analyses, that mobile order ahead is the way things are moving.

When you look at the benefits of mobile order ahead, it’s easy to see why so many customers prefer it. You can browse the menu at your leisure without employees watching you or holding up a queue. You also can handle payments entirely in-app. It is very easy to leverage loyalty points and promotions as well. In some cases, you can even skip the line when you arrive. And of course, in the era of social distancing, you can handle the majority of the ordering process without needing to be around others.

All in all, it’s a more efficient system of ordering that customers learn to love – and when they do, it drives their continued business over time.

5. 81% of Customers Believe That Drive-Through Wait Times of 10+ Minutes Are Too Long

81% of Customers Believe That Drive-Through Wait Times of 10+ Minutes Are Too Long

Just how “quick” do quick service restaurants need to be? Looking at Bluedot’s survey data as a benchmark, 81% customers will feel frustrated if they have to wait 10 minutes or more at the drive-through.

Call them pushy or call them entitled, but the fact of the matter is that the customer is (usually) right. If a QSR can’t live up to its name, customers will go elsewhere. In today’s economic climate, companies need all the business they can get – which makes wait time reduction the order of the day.

And on that score, mobile order ahead comes to the rescue. It’s far easier to manage large order queues when employees have digital orders in hand and know what to expect from each vehicle. Items can be made together and delivered quicker, moving cars through the line at speed. It also helps employees manage those nasty-surprise large orders that tend to clog up the queue. (Courteous customers call in large orders ahead of time, but not all of them do.)

If even a few of these customers leverage a mobile order ahead app to manage their orders, employees will be able to prep accordingly and tackle the orders head on with no surprises. This is an easy way to reduce wait times at the drive-through and boost throughput all at once.

6. 26% of Starbucks Mobile App Users Leverage Its Mobile Order Ahead Features

26% of Starbucks Mobile App Users Leverage Its Mobile Order Ahead Features

And speaking of using mobile order ahead to manage high-volume queues, did you know that a full 26% of Starbucks mobile app customers use its mobile order ahead features? This may not seem like a lot until you consider just how huge Starbucks’ market share and total app adoption is compared to other QSRs.

As of Q1 2020, Starbucks boasted an impressive $7.1 billion in revenue and a total 18.9 million active Starbucks Rewards members in the U.S. alone. There are plenty of reasons for the company’s success, but part of it is certainly Starbucks’ role as one of the world’s leading mobile payment providers in the QSR space.

Starbucks got in on the mobile ordering trend early and has spent years refining its strategy and system to support ongoing growth. Other companies can take a page out of their book by exploring what kinds of payment options may produce similar benefits in their own enterprises.

7. 38% of Buyers Perceive Drive-Through Service as Safer Than In-Store/Curbside Pickup

38% of Buyers Perceive Drive-Through Service as Safer Than In-Store/Curbside Pickup

Bluedot’s survey had another interesting insight to share: In terms of pandemic safety, 38% of customers perceived drive-throughs to be significantly safer than either in-store ordering or curbside pickup.

This is another point in favor of queue management and the mobile ordering solutions that boost throughput. Thanks to the pandemic, stores have seen significant increases in drive-through volume and decreased in-store foot traffic. It all comes down to safety. Customers want to enjoy their favorite food options, but not at the risk of their health.

Mobile order ahead tools facilitate a hands-off ordering process where customer contact with employees is limited to the exchange of food. All ordering details, payments, and promotions can be handled in the application. For customers concerned about safety, this type of approach can go a long way in earning their continued business.

8. 62% of Customers Have Used Curbside Pickup the Same Amount, or More Often, Than in Previous Months

62% of Customers Have Used Curbside Pickup the Same Amount, or More Often, Than in Previous Months

Our last insight from Bluedot’s survey relates to curbside pickup. Although considered less safe than drive-through, data shows that curbside pickup rates increased slightly from spring to summer 2020. This shows that health-conscious customers will still leverage the health-centric ordering options that QSRs put out. This trend speaks to usage and adoption rates of solutions like mobile order ahead.

When customers have the option to handle as much of their transaction off-site as possible, they’ll be more likely to give your restaurant a chance (compared to restaurants that don’t prioritize these services, at the very least). Keep this in mind as you consider your mobile app strategy and the investments you make in these digital tools.

9. 38% of Customers Will Curtail Restaurant Spending After the Pandemic

38% of Customers Will Curtail Restaurant Spending After the Pandemic

As we move closer to 2021, customers and QSRs alike may wonder which long-term behavior shifts will take hold. And while it’s hard to say for sure, it’s clear that finances will be a priority. Survey data shows that many consumers (38%) will look to cut costs by reducing the amount of money they spend on restaurants.

It makes sense, given the tough economic conditions we’re in. People have lost their jobs and face uncertain futures – it stands to reason that expensive restaurant takeout would be a prime area for cost savings. QSRs can’t fight this trend. Instead, they should embrace it.

QSRs should leverage their marketing and promotion systems to better understand what options consumers want to see and what might drive their business over time. This may include reworking your loyalty programs, providing free points towards discounts, or leveraging personalized in-app offers that encourage buyers to visit, even if those visits are less frequent.

What’s most important is that QSRs have a structured, formalized system in place to track this data and adjust their promotions accordingly. Unfortunately…

10. Only 25% of QSRs Operate With Formal Digital Strategies

Only 25% of QSRs Operate With Formal Digital Strategies

With all of the above in mind, we close on one final insight provided by PYMNTS.com: A mere 25% of QSRs operate with formal digital strategies. This leaves 75% of QSRs to scrape together digital tools and try to get in on the action without having a formalized plan in place.

Given the above insights, it’s clear that QSRs could benefit from a structured digital strategy that helps bring in customers and allow those customers to order on their own terms. And since so few companies are doing it, there’s a market opportunity here that savvy QSRs and retailers can take advantage of. This is particularly true as we move forward with pandemic-related restrictions in 2021. With in-store traffic at an all-time low, companies must explore new solutions that let them compete with their rivals and continue to offer the same level of service that their customers have come to expect.

Get a Branded Mobile Order Ahead App in Your Business

Issues surrounding COVID-19 have accelerated business processes of all kinds, and mobile order ahead is no exception. If nothing else, the pandemic has shown us that change doesn’t always occur at our own pace. Sometimes, we’re forced to adapt. And the companies who embrace the change and stay flexible in their approach will always do better than those who resist the tide. If you’re a Square user in the QSR space, we recommend contacting PoppinPay for more information about the benefits of a branded mobile order ahead app for your company. You might be surprised at how your customers respond!

Why the Square POS Is Still the Leader in the Market

Why the Square POS Is Still the Leader in the Market

Why the Square POS Is Still the Leader in the Market 2032 996 PoppinPay

When it comes to choosing a point of sale (POS) system for your business, there are two options: Square POS and everyone else. At the end of Q2 2020, Square POS had an impressive 48.91% market share, dominating every other POS system out there. Since its inception, Square has been a leader in the POS market and for good reason. Its business model is different from any other software out there. So, what makes Square POS so special?

It’s Free (to Download)

The aspect that catches most business owners’ attention is that Square POS is free to use. You read that right: FREE. It costs you absolutely nothing to download and use. Unlike most other POS systems, there aren’t any initial costs or monthly fees for you to worry about.

Now, Square can’t just go around giving away POS systems. What kind of business model would that be? Instead of initial costs and monthly fees, Square takes a small percentage of every transaction made through the POS—around 2.6% for most businesses, though that number can change depending on business size and the service package you choose.

You’ll also need to purchase hardware to accept payments, which is still quite affordable:

  • Tablet/smartphone magstripe reader – Free (for your first one)
  • Contactless chip reader – $49
  • Tablet stand and contactless chip reader – $169
  • POS terminal – $299
  • Register – $799

Even with the transactional fees and hardware costs, Square POS is still generally the most cost-effective solution on the market.

Customized Payment Options

Square leaves a lot of room for businesses to customize their POS to suit their needs. You can do things like open tabs, split bills over multiple cards, and accept various payment methods.

From the customer side, they can choose precalculated or custom tip options and whether they’d like to receive print or email receipts. No matter how you like to take payments, Square POS is ready.

Mobile Payments

Possibly one of the best features Square POS has to offer—aside from being free—is that it can accept payments from anywhere. Smaller readers like the magstripe reader and contactless chip reader can be connected to your data-enabled smartphone or tablet and taken anywhere your business goes.

Sell merchandise at a trade show, accept credit cards at a food truck, or sell produce at a farmer’s market. With Square POS, you’re not restricted to your brick-and-mortar store or even a Wi-Fi connection, so go forth and sell!

Square POS Offers Offline Capabilities

Mobile businesses like farmer’s markets and food trucks don’t always have access to reliable internet. With Square, you don’t have to worry about it. You can activate offline mode to store payments on the POS system and process them next time you’re connected to the internet. This also works great for areas with spotty connections. You don’t have to hold up the line while you wait for your signal to return.

The offline feature only works for higher-end readers, but the smaller readers can use the data connection on your smartphones or tablets for mobile payment processing.

More than Just a POS

As the name might suggest, most “point of sale” systems are designed to accept payments, and that’s it. But Square POS takes it a step further. Not only does it allow businesses to accept various forms of payment, but it can help you with other essential business functions as well:

  • Inventory tracking – manage stock and get regular alerts and updates
  • Employee management – time tracking, individual employee accounts, and access levels
  • Quick deposits – deposit funds as early as the next business day

Since Square POS only makes money when you complete transactions, all of these additional features are included for absolutely no cost to you, making it an affordable, comprehensive POS solution.

Top-Notch Data Security

When handling sensitive data like customer payment information, security is of the utmost importance. Square understands security and goes to incredible lengths to keep everything secure:

  • PCI-compliant hardware
  • 2-step software verification
  • Customizable access control and employee permissions
  • Payment encryption
  • Constant server monitoring

To make payments even more secure, the Square POS never stores customer information after a sale is processed. Even in the unlikely event a hacker does manage to infiltrate your system, there won’t be anything for them to steal.

Branded App Integrations

Have you ever wished you could get an app for your business? You can with Square! Square partners with app developers, like PoppinPay, to develop branded apps unique to your business. These apps integrate with Square and can be downloaded by your loyal customers from the Apple and Google Play stores.

If people want to place an order, they simply log in to the app, select the items they want, and check out. You’ll get a notification through your POS system that the order has been placed, and you can have it ready when the customer shows up. In the era of COVID-19, this feature can be quite helpful for contactless ordering.

Unbeatable Features and Security Put Square POS at the Top

With its affordability, security, and unbeatable features, it’s no wonder why businesses flock to the Square POS. It’s simply the most efficient, versatile, and cost-effective POS on the market today.

If you want to take advantage of all Square POS has to offer but want a more personalized approach, consider a branded app from PoppinPay. Our skilled designers can work with your business to upload photos, logos, and menus to make a unique app for your business. Especially with the outbreak of COVID-19, having an app that allows mobile ordering is more important than ever. Contact us to get started designing your app today.

Mobile Payments

Is It Time to Start Thinking About Mobile Payments?

Is It Time to Start Thinking About Mobile Payments? 7952 5304 PoppinPay

Mobile payments are booming!

Data published by Statista shows that 38% of online shoppers in the U.S. believe mobile payments are more efficient than other payment methods, and 29% of consumers would enjoy paying with their smartphone all the time.

It’s a big trend that’s being pushed primarily by younger demographics, many of whom are well-acquainted with these technologies.

“Millennials continue to be the dominant force in retail both in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, as their shopping habits can be a deciding factor in what makes or breaks the success and longevity of retail models,” says Greg Petro, CEO of analytics firm First Insight.

But for quick service restaurants (QSRs) and other small businesses, mobile ordering solutions come in several flavors, so to speak, and not all of them can—or should—be integrated into your business. Let’s go over a few options.

The Mobile Payments Landscape

Mobile payment technology has grown a lot over the past few years, with plenty of options to meet consumer demand:

  • App-based payments through mobile browsers or branded applications
  • E-wallets like Google Pay or Apple Pay
  • Magnetic secure transmission (MST)
  • Near field communication (NFC) tagging
  • QR code scanning

Many of these technologies integrate directly with a business’s point-of-sale (POS) system to extend their payment processing capabilities. Of course, every new payments integration comes at a cost, meaning that most businesses need to prioritize and invest in the payment channels that customers actually use.

Are Payment Options Created Equal?

When people think about mobile payments, they tend to think of e-wallets first and foremost. And although big name players like Google, Apple, and Samsung are making waves in the e-wallet world, research shows that mobile wallet adoption in the U.S. is actually lagging behind other countries—sitting at less than 10%, in one 2019 study. The Motley Fool offers a good explanation as to why:

Swiping a plastic card is already incredibly fast, and in some cases can be even easier than using Apple Pay, which requires the user to authenticate with Face ID or Touch ID and confirm the transaction with several button presses.”

This is part of the issue, but it’s not all about convenience. Consumers express noteworthy concerns about e-wallet security as well. In one study, 65% of U.S. smartphone users agreed that e-wallet security was the biggest barrier to adoption.

So, we can take away from this that, while mobile payment options are expanding, QSRs shouldn’t just build out a few e-wallet options and call it a day. Consumers won’t jump on board with just any solution that comes their way. Companies need to invest in solutions that fill a specific need for customers without raising concerns about security. In other words, think outside the mobile wallet to more innovative solutions that consumers may not be aware of.

Pay and Go With Mobile Order Ahead

As an application-based payments solution, mobile order ahead isn’t a “new” strategy in the payments landscape, but it’s one that’s growing fast.

Mobile orders now represent nearly 60% of all digital restaurant orders these days, and 59% of restaurant operators surveyed agreed that they were facing competitive disruption from companies deploying mobile order-ahead solutions. It’s not hard to see why, when you take a top-level view of the benefits of mobile order ahead for QSRs:

  • Boost revenue by increasing throughput
  • Give customers a convenient way to skip the line
  • Save customer details and preferences for simple re-ordering
  • Manage payment processing off-site
  • Free up staff to focus more on production and less on administrative tasks

On the consumer side of things, this is a type of convenience that even e-wallets can’t match. Shoppers don’t need to worry about pulling out their phones or credit cards at the register. Everything can be done ahead of time, leaving them free to get in and out. It’s a type of convenience that can translate to real dollars in repeat business, which is likely why it was predicted that app-based orders would make up 11% of total QSR sales by 2020.

Is It Time to Start Thinking Mobile?

Mobile ordering isn’t going anywhere, and in the spectrum of mobile payment solutions, order ahead offers a great blend of convenience and functionality. But as we mentioned, few payment solutions are created equal, and getting customers on board with them will depend on what their preferences are to begin with. Keep this in mind as you review your options, and if you’re curious about exploring the benefits of innovative mobile payments, feel free to contact us at PoppinPay for an assessment of your business.

Benefits of Custom Mobile Apps vs. Template Mobile Apps: Which Is Better for My Business?

Benefits of Custom Mobile Apps vs. Square Partner Mobile Apps: Which Is Better for My Business?

Benefits of Custom Mobile Apps vs. Square Partner Mobile Apps: Which Is Better for My Business? 4500 3000 PoppinPay

Restaurant owners often contemplate should they build their own custom mobile app for their business or move forward with an existing partner mobile app that is already integrated into their Square point of sale system?

Mobile shopping has increased substantially over the past few years, with companies of all kinds jumping on board. It’s predicted that 54% of all ecommerce sales will be mobile by 2021 – which is both a good and bad thing for quick-service restaurants (QSRs).

While it’s good that QSRs are beginning to get in on the value of mobile ordering, the market has become saturated with mobile apps to the point where they don’t offer quite the competitive edge they used to. There are just too many people doing it. As such, companies exploring the space need to review all their options and come up with the right strategy before committing resources to app development.

And fortunately, there are lots of different roads that can lead to a well-functioning mobile app these days. Many companies invest in their own custom applications while others work with companies to integrate third-party mobile apps into their QSR infrastructure. Both options are valid, of course – but which is better for the average business?

Should I develop my own mobile app?

It’s pretty clear that having your own mobile app offers the most comprehensive customer experience out there. With your own custom mobile app, you can design your storefront the way you want, manage details at a granular level, and integrate new applications as needed to encourage mobile purchasing.

Starbucks Custom Mobile App

In other words, it offers the highest level of customization of any type of mobile solution. So, why the heck aren’t more businesses doing it? Probably for the same reason you didn’t build your own point of sale solution…

(Those of you who have been here before may already be shaking your heads.)

The problem is the cost and ongoing maintenance. It’s no secret that building a custom mobile app from the ground up is an expensive endeavor, usually costing tens of thousands at the absolute minimum (and can be much higher). For enterprise-grade applications, the numbers can skyrocket to six figures or more. Few businesses have enough resources to invest so heavily in omnichannel marketing, despite its benefits. The cost of custom features, API integrations, and payment processing are just too high. And really, the up-front costs are only the beginning.

What kind of maintenance will your new custom mobile app require? Who will be handling security and support? And what kind of systems will you need to set up to process mobile payments offline?

These are just a few of the obstacles businesses encounter as they begin planning their mobile apps, and the challenges compound as the app develops. After all, building it is just the first step. You also need to get people to use it! This is another big stumbling area for companies that put too much weight in the application planning process and neglect their post-launch marketing plans. The development costs of custom apps are high, and without a strong mobile marketing plan behind it, few companies earn an ROI for their troubles.

So, should you develop a custom mobile app? The answer is likely no. Unless you have deep pockets and plenty of time to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy, you’ll be better off exploring existing Square integrated solutions.

Template Mobile App Cost Savings

Should I go with a branded mobile app?

Custom mobile apps are great for big businesses, but what about smaller QSRs with less capital to burn? In these cases, it pays to look at options that give you the benefits of mobile without huge investments of money or labor.

These solutions usually integrate with various point-of-sale systems to expand the QSR’s capabilities within a stable ecosystem. Square’s point-of-sale (POS) system is one such solution, powered by a partnership with mobile app integrator PoppinPay. This partnership brings mobile order-ahead capabilities to any company using the Square POS.

Compared to the costs of a full application build, it’s clear that this approach is leaner and meaner. You don’t have to worry about any aspect of the app’s development, as it’s all done for you behind the scenes. With just a few simple integrations (and within 30 days, so long as Apple plays nicely when submitting to the app store), your QSR can gain access to a mobile order-ahead solution that enables both mobile and online ordering features – exactly what QSRs need to compete with larger opponents.

And better yet, because this type of mobile order-ahead application works within Square’s payments ecosystem, users will never need to worry about processing payments offline or setting up new processes for saving payment details. It’s all handled right there in the app.

Of course, there are limitations to this strategy worth noting. User interface customization is limited compared to what you can do with a custom app, and you won’t be able to integrate as many features as you would into your own build. There are also costs to consider – not near as great as a whole new app, of course – but costs nonetheless. Keep these issues in mind as you consider your options. It’s still substantially less compared to a custom mobile app build.

Branded Apps Help Small Businesses Compete in the QSR Game

While larger QSRs have the resources and freedom to choose among different app development options, smaller businesses need to be more careful. When budgets are thin (especially during COVID-19), companies need to look at which specific features will boost their revenue and which solutions can bring those features to life in an affordable way. In other words, how do you get the most bang for your development buck?

This is why Square’s partnership with PoppinPay to provide mobile order-ahead features is so powerful. Square is one of the market leaders for QSR point-of-sale systems, and PoppinPay was one of the first mobile order-ahead solutions that integrates with Square’s ecosystem (like Red Bull for the energy drink ecosystem). As such, smaller QSRs using Square have a big opportunity on their hands: having access to mobile order-ahead options that have been historically reserved for larger companies with their custom mobile apps. For QSRs hoping to compete in an increasingly-crowded market and wanting to stay away from aggregator solutions, there’s nothing better.

Related Reading: 7 Incredible Facts About Mobile Order Ahead in 2020

quick service restaurants

3 Ways Quick Service Restaurants are Adapting to Meet Community Needs

3 Ways Quick Service Restaurants are Adapting to Meet Community Needs 10504 2812 PoppinPay

With the COVID-19 pandemic at our door, communities have banded together in plenty of innovative ways to support one another. Businesses have followed suit. Many have adapted their business models to better serve their communities in safe, sustainable ways.

Today, we’d like to review some ways that quick service restaurants (QSRs) can get in touch with their communities and adjust their services to provide some relief to those on the front lines. A few simple changes to your ordering system can earn you recognition, goodwill from the community, and yes, some profit to sustain you during these tough times.

Stay Open While You Support the Community: QSRs Can Do Both

To illustrate what we mean by community-centered QSR service, let’s look at an example of how a coffeeshop might put this plan into action.

The subject of this story is Tom’s Coffee (for example purposes), a small, locally-owned coffeehouse in the Midwest. Tom’s Coffee is feeling the effects of the pandemic like most other QSRs, but unlike bigger restaurant chains, Tom’s doesn’t have many resources to fall back on. If its doors close, it’s likely to be permanent.

It’s a given that Tom’s Coffee wants to stay open. Beyond that, they want to do something that lets them be a part of the solution—something more than to just keep the doors open for those who want a morning caffeine kick. Fortunately, they have a few ideas up their sleeve to achieve both of these goals at once.

1. A Framework for Community-Centered Service

In the beginning, the coffeeshop adapted to the public health best practices mandated by the government: They’re open for delivery or curbside pickup, they’ve updated their online website for ordering, and they even re-arranged the store near their Square point-of-sale (POS) register to maintain proper social distancing for any customers who walk in.

These practices are a great start to drum up business, but they’re just that—a start.

Companies like Tom’s Coffee can take it a step further and make community outreach a key part of their pandemic business models. In our example, the coffeeshop plans to create new menu items and a new marketing campaign that highlights how their services can support those on the front lines.

Here’s how it could look. Rather than sell individual coffee drinks or bakery items as usual, Tom’s Coffee can adapt its Square POS and mobile ordering app with items grouped together in a bundle: Large carafes of coffee, batches of a dozen cookies, big bags of chips, and so on. Each of these bundles is designed to serve 12 to 24 people and is not something Tom’s Coffee would normally include on the menu.

But rather than just create these bundles and sell them as normal, Tom’s Coffee positions these bundles as “community uplift packages” designed to brighten the day of essential workers: grocery employees, teachers, police, and first responders. After all, since they do so much for us, don’t they deserve to be greeted with a hot cup of coffee and sweet treat at the start of their day?

2. The Marketing Side of Things

The overarching goal here is to compensate for decreased sales volume by selling larger batches of products (at an encouraging discount) and market those bundles as a saving grace that customers can utilize to support essential workers. Should a bundle get ordered for, say, a local elementary school, Tom’s Coffee whips up the order, delivers it out to the school, and snaps a couple photos that show the delivery person as he met with the customer and thanked her for the business.

Tom’s Coffee then publishes the photos on social media to thank the customer, show community support, and raise awareness of the service. This provides several key points of information for any customers watching:

  • Tom’s Coffee is still open and eager for business
  • They’re making public safety a priority within their business model
  • They’re being proactive in show appreciation for hard-working, essential employees

Of course, Tom’s Coffee donates a few of these bundles on their own terms as well. The thrust of the campaign is to position Tom’s as the “partner” company that can deliver the customer’s well-wishes to whoever needs them.

And given that Square merchants can integrate their loyalty point programs directly through PoppinPay’s mobile order ahead app, Tom’s Coffee can leverage its loyalty program to its benefit here, too. It’s easy to provide bonus loyalty points for specific purchases, which is the perfect way to further incentivize these larger, bundled orders.

Naturally, any community-centered approach needs to be backed by a solid social media marketing strategy that highlights these orders and creates visibility for the service. But these angles don’t just prop up Tom’s Coffee as some kind of hero; rather, they recognize the workers who put themselves on the line and create a direct connection between a customer’s purchase and those who receive it.

These are just a few examples, but QSRs can get creative here. It’s possible to incorporate other marketing elements into this strategy as well. For example, plenty of cash-strapped companies are setting up GoFundMe pages to help cover rent, bills, staffing costs, and other expenses during the economic slowdown. If Tom’s Coffee were to set up a page like this and strategically plug it through social channels, they could earn far higher donations than they might through a standard GoFundMe page alone.

Tom’s Coffee has created community-consciousness around their brand, so they’re far more likely to receive goodwill from other community members in turn. This is how a local QSR competes with the larger chains, even during these tough times.

3. Bring the Community Into Your Brand

The above framework is a type of community-focused marketing that many companies don’t strive for in the course of their normal operations. But in the wake of the pandemic, this social element can be a powerful tool to generate buzz at a time when we’re more community-conscious than ever.

Related reading: 5 Critical Steps to Take When Reopening a Cafe During Coronavirus

Curbside Pickup: Tips and Tricks to Streamline Your Service

Curbside Pickup: Tips and Tricks to Streamline Your Service

Curbside Pickup: Tips and Tricks to Streamline Your Service 5850 3900 PoppinPay

In a worldwide effort to combat the pandemic, companies are embracing innovation like never before. They’ve started to invest in new technologies that help them sell, and they’re trying to adapt their business models to prioritize public health. There’s a lot going on right now in the quick service restaurant (QSR) game. One of the most pressing topics of the day is curbside pickup.

Curbside pickup offers an effective middle ground between public safety and business operation; it’s one of the few ways businesses can keep the lights on and still adhere to government mandated distancing orders. Of course, curbside pickup isn’t a new strategy. Grocery stores and retail stores have been doing it for years. But thanks to our current public health situation, restaurants of all sizes have jumped on board—and all to our benefit that they do it in a safe and sustainable way.

Let’s go over a few best practices that pertain to curbside pickup for restaurants.

Assess Your Parking Options

One of the first decisions is where to set up your pick-up stalls. Naturally, you’ll need a place to stick people while they wait in their cars—somewhere that won’t block traffic, other businesses, sideways, or sidewalks. If your restaurant enjoys plenty of parking nearby, this will help.

Others may have to get creative and cordon off specific parking stalls as pickup locations, or even have staff at the ready to shuttle cars off-street so customers can grab their pickup order from the back. Remember, customers won’t know where to go when they arrive for pickup, so make it easy for them with clear signage.

Make the Rules Clear

Related to the above, make sure you’re up front about changes in store operation, hours, or services as a result of the pandemic. It’s fine to operate with reduced hours, particularly if you’re one of the many QSRs suffering from staffing issues. So do find a way to inform customers about the changes. Update your website alongside your profiles on Yelp, Google My Business, and other social channels because these remain the primary ways that customers will look up information about your restaurant.

This is a small bit of clerical work, but it means a lot to customers who want to patronize your company but aren’t sure if you’re open. Set the rules for your operation based on what you can do, and make sure customers know what ordering options are at their disposal. This is also the place to suggest that customers refrain from direct contact with staff or for gentle reminders that in-store customers should comply with social distancing.

Establish an Ordering System

Even before the pandemic, one of the key value propositions of curbside pickup was convenience, something that Retail Dive explains well:

For some, it’s a chance to get something they’ve purchased on the same day, without extra fees. For others, it’s an opportunity to accomplish an errand without lugging kids out of the car. For all, it meets heightened consumer expectations for convenient, low-cost delivery.”

In other words, it’s great that you offer curbside pickup as a public health option. But if you can’t provide the fast, convenient service that customers still expect, you’ll have a hard time earning their business beyond a one-off purchase.

This is why it’s so important to establish an effective ordering system that minimizes the time your team spends on order management. Setting up an online storefront is a good first step. This lets customers browse your menu and order at their leisure, and when they arrive on-site, they simply call or text to inform the restaurant.

This is the standard system for curbside pickup, but it may not be ideal. Although many QSRs don’t have other options, it’s a bit of a hassle to require two different channels to complete a customer order. They can order online, but they’ll still need to whip out the phone and call you when they show up. This begs the question, why not just skip ordering online and do the whole thing by phone? This is possible, but they can’t see your prices or adapted menu. Plus, they’ll still need to contact the company again when they arrive.

Manage Curbside Pickup Entirely Through Mobile

Compare this to companies that have a dedicated mobile app, and the advantages of a mobile-based order-ahead solution become clear.

Rather than making them order online and call in later, a mobile order-ahead app lets them handle the entire thing through their phones—ordering, payment, and contact.

Merchants that use the Square point-of-sale (POS) system have a good option here with PoppinPay’s mobile order-ahead solution. Within the app, there are options for regular pickup or curbside pickup. When they select curbside, they’re prompted to enter their vehicle information, order, and any other special instructions they may have. And when they arrive, all they need to do is click “I’m Here” in the app, and a notification goes straight to your Square terminal. Notifications can be made through robocalls, texts, or email.

This system is the easiest way to deploy a curbside pickup solution that works for both your customers and your team. When the solution is integrated with Square, you can give customers all the information they need to order and guarantee that the increased volume of online orders won’t disrupt your internal workflows.

There are other benefits of mobile order-ahead solutions, of course, but in today’s climate, the speed and convenience of the solution are most important. As of now, mobile order ahead remains one of the only ways that QSRs can offer a streamlined, single-channel curbside pickup experience.

Create a Competitive Curbside Pickup Experience

With all of the above in mind, remember that the most important part of your curbside service is to preserve the well-being of your employees and your customers. Encourage the use of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves, and limit personal interactions as much as you can. When you have these essential elements down, you can provide curbside pickup with confidence—then focus your efforts on providing the type of fast, convenient service that keeps customers coming back for more.

5 Critical Steps to Take When Reopening a Café During Coronavirus

5 Critical Steps to Take When Reopening a Café During Coronavirus

5 Critical Steps to Take When Reopening a Café During Coronavirus 5472 3648 PoppinPay

With the COVID-19 pandemic curve flattening, many business owners wonder when they can re-open their doors and get back in action. While it’s hard to say when any given restaurant or café is safe to continue operations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put out a set of guidelines to help businesses be responsible when they do re-open their doors.

We’ve distilled this information into five critical steps for easy reading, though the CDC’s detailed report is available to view at the bottom of this article.

1. Review Re-Opening Plans and Phasing

Your first step is to get familiar with the COVID-19 reopening plans set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other safety practices set forth by the CDC.

The idea here is to get acquainted with the recommended strategies for safe business operation, disinfection, and employee management. Part of this requires that you review the infection curve data in your city as well as your city’s plans for re-opening.

As noted in the CDC’s guidelines, this re-opening will be done in three phases:

  • Phase 1 – Restaurant operations limited to drive-through, delivery, and curbside takeout
  • Phase 2 – Restaurants may open dining areas with limited capacity and observe social distancing
  • Phase 3 – Restaurants may operate normally while maintaining social distancing

More than anything else, local and state ordinances will determine when your café is allowed to re-open, so make sure to keep tabs on these recommendations as you create your re-opening plan.

2. Get Ready to Clean and Disinfect

One of the best ways for cafés to prevent the spread of germs is to double down on their cleaning and disinfecting practices. Set up an aggressive schedule that pays special attention to frequently touched surfaces:

  • Door handles
  • Countertops
  • Screens of your point-of-sale terminal
  • Work stations
  • Cutting boards
  • Condiment holders

(As an aside, make sure to use appropriate cleaning products for each application. Disinfectants may be less effective on certain surfaces, so assess your café’s needs and make sure you’re stocked up.)

Of course, you’ll need to encourage good hygiene by all employees. Make sure all staff members wash their hands regularly and wear some type of protective face covering to prevent the spread of airborne virus particles. Glove use is controversial, so if you require it of your employees, make sure it makes sense. Insist that every employee treats cleanliness as a priority.

3. Maintain Social Distancing

As COVID-19 can be easily transmitted through person-to-person contact, social distancing is (and will likely remain) a chief countermeasure over the coming months.

The severity of your area’s social distancing requirements will depend on your local ordinances and what phase of re-opening you’re in. However, there are a few easy things you can do to encourage customers’ social distancing, regardless of your re-opening phase.

  • Limit café services to those dictated by local ordinances
  • Install physical barriers between customers and employees at the POS
  • Restrict the number of customers allowed in the building
  • Consider staggering employee schedules to minimize the number of workers on each shift
  • Add signage, posters, or floor markers that encourage people to maintain adequate social distance

Of course, these are just a few examples. There are plenty of other ways to encourage social distancing, including—as the CDC recommends—using mobile technology to minimize interaction customers have with employees. Any tools you can use to keep customers and workers safe are fair game.

4. Set Up a Monitoring Strategy

Keep tabs on disease transmission among your team. Ideally, you’ll set up strong hygienic practices that keep your employees safe. Café owners can’t just assume that things will be fine. You need to have a system for checking the signs and symptoms of your employees throughout the re-opening process.

Set up daily health checks to take each employee’s temperature and assess whether he/she has any Covid-19 symptoms. When in doubt, encourage the employee to stay home.

This is another area where it pays to get familiar with the health resources in your city. If your region is lucky enough to have COVID-19 tests available, encourage symptomatic employees to get an official diagnosis. Of course, you’ll need to handle these checks in a way that respects each team member’s confidentially, but it’s a worthwhile addition to your re-opening strategy. The more info you have, the better.

5. Create a Plan for Sick Employees

Even with your best efforts, you may not be able to prevent your employees from getting sick. And if they do, you need to be ready to respond with an action plan in place.

Any employees who experience COVID-19 symptoms should immediately be sent home. Any workers who had contact with the employee should self-monitor for any emerging issues and self-isolate until they can be reasonably sure that they’re not sick. (It helps to have flexible sick leave policies to discourage workers from coming in.)

If any employee does end up with a COVID-19 diagnosis, the café owner should notify local health authorities and take specific precautions to disinfect the area before continuing service. Typically, businesses with a verified COVID-19 case will need to close for a few days to get things cleaned up, though the exact timetable for this will depend on your region’s disease transmission data and the severity of the case itself.

A Safe and Methodical Approach to Re-Opening Your Café

The above guidelines are a CDC-backed framework for safely re-opening restaurants and cafés, but at the end of the day, recommendations are just that. It’s up to the café owners to asses their situation and apply these rules in their own businesses. It’s certainly possible to do, but it must be done with care.

If you want a full accounting of the CDC’s guidelines, the CDC has the full text here.

How Mobile Order Ahead Boosts Your Team’s Productivity

How Mobile Order Ahead Boosts Your Team’s Productivity

How Mobile Order Ahead Boosts Your Team’s Productivity 4997 3331 PoppinPay

For quick service restaurants (QSRs), an ongoing goal is to provide faster service and better products all without sacrificing the customer experience. And on that score, solutions like mobile order ahead offer some clear advantages for customers who are interested in getting in and out fast.

After all, what better way is there to improve the customer experience than giving them the means to order when they want, from where they want, and letting them skip the line when they arrive? From a QSR perspective, this is a dream come true. But while the benefits are centered around your customers, they aren’t limited to your customers. In other words, mobile order ahead can bring some interesting benefits to an employee workforce that are worth a second look.

Will More Orders Speed Things Up or Slow Them Down?

“Now hang on a minute,” we can already hear a few of our readers saying. “Earlier you said that mobile order ahead for restaurants was in demand. But more demand means more work! How can that boost productivity?”

This is a great question that’s worth exploring. QSR owners with overworked teams may rightfully feel that new solutions will bring challenges and opportunities in equal measure. After all, if your team is already at capacity, bringing in a new, substantial source of customer orders may complicate things. Overworked teams slow down, the in-store customer experience suffers, and overall, QSR quality drops.

Right?

Not necessarily. It’s natural for managers to be concerned about overworking their teams, but rest assured – mobile order ahead can address this issue through the innovative way it empowers your workforce.

Mobile Order Ahead Boosts Worker Productivity

There’s plenty of talk out there about how mobile order ahead improves customer experiences, but there’s less focus on how it can support the employees steering the ship. So, let’s go over the basics and dispel any notions that your team won’t be able to handle a mobile order-ahead solution.

Less Time Spent Taking Orders

We’ve all seen it happen. The queue moves forward at our favorite coffeeshop or sandwich joint, pushing a first-time customer to the register.

“What’ll it be?” The cashier might say.

“Well, I’m not sure…” the customer inevitably replies.

This kicks off a five-minute discussion between cashier and customer in which the customer asks question after question, kicking the tires of every choice until he/she is finally ready to purchase.

It’s good customer service to accommodate these guests. But meanwhile, you have a frustrated queue of customers stewing in the background, some of whom may be rushed with little time to waste. If any of these customers leave, you’ve lost revenue.

Mobile order ahead subverts this issue by giving customers a way to browse and order well ahead of their visit. Within the app, they can browse their options, note substitutions, and place their order, all without taking up any of your employees’ time. Sure, not every customer will take advantage of it, but many of them will – and for every one that does, you’re earning a sale without any need for direct input from your team.

Less Money Management

Along the same lines, it’s fair to say that few employees enjoy managing money. It’s an essential part of the job, but between ringing up orders, explaining prices to customers, and handling card, cash, and coin, the money management process gobbles up a lot of time.

And while modern payment processing systems for QSRs have certainly sped this process up compared to the days of paper checks, all that counting is still one of the less appealing parts of the job for many QSR employees. Mobile order ahead offers a method for capturing that revenue without requiring your team members to spend time handling money. Over the course of a normal week, this could mean whole hours freed up to focus on other tasks.

More Focus on Production

So, employees aren’t taking orders, and they aren’t handling money. What they heck are they doing? The answer, of course, is doubling down on production!

When employees are freed from needing to deal with administrative functions like register management or money collection, they have more time to spend on the actual day-to-day tasks that produce value for the QSR. And in many cases, this experience can pay dividends for the customer experience.

Think about how this applies to QSRs on the level of, say, Starbucks. It’s easy for a Starbucks employee to produce a tall drip coffee, but what about an iced venti vanilla/caramel decaf frappuccino? This type of order takes some serious practice to get right, and even after several attempts, the employee may still have a long way to go.

Let your team forgo the hassles of administrative work and focus on the tasks that require real skill to pull off. The more training they get, the better they’ll be – to create better, more consistent experiences for all customers.

Mobile Order Ahead Supports Queue Management

All of the above benefits come down to this: When you have a mobile order-ahead solution, the queue becomes much less intimidating to deal with.

Sure, employees will need to balance their in-store customer against an increasing flow of mobile orders, but as noted above, those mobile orders don’t require nearly as much time or administrative input to complete. No customers holding up the line, no money changing hands, no confusion. It’s a simple system that helps the company maintain its revenue in a way that supports both customers and employees, all in one move.

If you’re curious about exploring mobile order ahead for your business, we encourage you to contact PoppinPay for a quick assessment of your company. A mobile order ahead solution is closer than you think!

Every Day Counts – How Mobile and Online Order Ahead Help Square Merchants During the Coronavirus

Every Day Counts – How Mobile and Online Order Ahead Help Square Merchants During the Coronavirus

Every Day Counts – How Mobile and Online Order Ahead Help Square Merchants During the Coronavirus 5542 3382 PoppinPay

The coronavirus pandemic is bringing all of us into uncharted territory and order ahead may be the only solution right now for restaurants. Among all of the economic uncertainties that are developing by the day, it’s understandable that small business owners are worried about the future. As we’re seeing, the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting the food service/restaurant industry particularly hard, with many businesses struggling to keep their doors open in the wake of social distancing and forced closures.

There’s a lot to be worried about, but if we had to find a silver lining here, it’s that these changes have sparked a surge in marketing creativity for small businesses. Even in just the past few weeks, we’ve seen small quick-service restaurants (QSRs) move to online ordering, mobile order ahead, curbside pickup, and even makeshift delivery – all in the interest of keeping customers fed while also keeping the lights on.

This is the point we’d like to stress, here. Although QSRs are feeling economic pressure, it is possible to adapt and put yourself in a better position to weather the storm.

Update – Social Distancing and Shelter-in-Place

As of March 27th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alongside other data aggregators report that the United States has over 90,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. This is the highest total of any country we’ve seen so far, and numbers continue to rise.

Naturally, travel bans are in place, and healthcare resources are tight. Both local and federal governments have recommended social distancing measures as a primary way to stop the spread (defined as staying at least 6 feet away from others in public situations). Of course, we’re beginning to see non-essential businesses close in the more heavily affected states, and many of these states are enacting “shelter-in-place” orders to limit movement outside of essential activities.

But of course, foraging for food falls into the category of “essential”, and plenty of us who are hunkered down in our homes rely on having access to takeout and delivery services. (This is particularly important, given that public panic has pushed some to clear out their local grocery store shelves.)

In other words, restaurants remaining open are putting themselves on the front lines in the interest of public service – and those of us outside food service are certainly grateful. But with that in mind, it’s important to look at how these restaurants offer service. After all, public safety is paramount, and QSRs who want to keep the revenue flowing need to adapt their services in turn.

And for the foreseeable future, these adaptations will largely involve off-premise ordering solutions – mobile orders, contactless delivery, takeout, and so on.

Off-Premise Ordering Is a Necessity

Given how many of us are working from home these days, it’s clear that the pandemic has been an impetus for companies to go digital in one way or another. The push for off-premise ordering solutions is just another example.

It’s fair to say that online ordering and mobile ordering are some of the best ways to reach customers in the era of social distancing. And in truth, they’re some of the only ways to offer service in a safe, responsible way. As long as lockdowns are in effect and customers are encouraged to quarantine, off-premise ordering will rule the day.

Of course, we’ve talked at length about the benefits of solutions like mobile order ahead in previous posts. But given everything that’s been going on, it’s hard to overstate the value of these apps. Social pressure to stay indoors is rising, and as more of us get stuck inside, we’ll increasingly rely on digital ordering solutions to get food on the table.

This is why it’s so important for QSRs who use the Square point-of-sale (POS) to explore all of their off-premise ordering options. Partners like PoppinPay have made it their mission to provide secure, off-premise ordering solutions for Square users – offerings that include online ordering and mobile order ahead applications for small businesses.

These solutions are branded to each business and offer a simple way to enable digital ordering, update online menus, and handle all payments off-site through Square. It’s a great system for any QSR, but it’s particularly important these days, because customers need solutions now. QSRs can’t afford to wait weeks or months to offer online ordering; the time to act is here.

Fortunately for Square users, PoppinPay has made it easy to set up and deploy these mobile ordering tools. Although it won’t happen overnight (online ordering can be in as little as a few days, while a mobile app will be 3-4 weeks), it’s a system that was built to be rolled out efficiently – even for smaller companies. And given how fast things are moving, companies without some type of off-premise ordering solution are putting themselves at risk. Right now, every day counts.

Protect Your Customers – And Your Business

This pandemic is teaching us a lot about our society, our economy, and our businesses. And if there’s any takeaway that’s readily apparent from all this, it’s that certain business solutions – such as off-premise mobile order ahead – are more important than many QSRs realize. After all, before the outbreak began, many people viewed mobile ordering as a mere marketing tool. But today, we see that it’s much more than that. Right now, it’s one of the only truly safe and secure ways you can accept customers’ orders without exposing them – or your staff – to undue risk.

And even though times are getting tight, it’s not too late to look into these solutions! The situation is still evolving, and companies who are proactive about adapting their processes will be much more resilient to the coming pressures we’ll inevitably face.

Don’t waste time! If you’re a Square merchant finding that your business could benefit from a wider range of ordering options, PoppinPay will be there to help you every step of the way.

Why Food Trucks Are Next Frontier for Mobile Order Ahead Options

Why Food Trucks Are Next Frontier for Mobile Order Ahead Options

Why Food Trucks Are Next Frontier for Mobile Order Ahead Options 865 686 PoppinPay

Mobile order ahead was once the exclusive domain of brick-and-mortar quick service restaurants (QSRs). Now, mobile order ahead is becoming a viable channel for food trucks. There’s a clear consumer preference for mobile ordering that’s pushing the industry to a $38 billion valuation by 2020—but such high adoption rates indicate that brick-and-mortar businesses aren’t the only ones getting on board.

Food Trucks Are the Quintessential QSRs

If we consider what a “QSR” is, then food trucks are the perfect embodiment of the concept. Food trucks are designed for convenience and speed, giving customers a way to grab a bite without going in a building or waiting for a busy kitchen to catch up.

It’s a profitable niche that’s expected to reach nearly $1 billion in value by 2020, but as food truck vendors know, their unique system of operation comes with its own set of challenges.

Customers can order their food easily—but they still need to wait for the food to be prepared. And when a truck is popular, there’s almost always a line for ordering. This cuts into one of the main value propositions of food trucks—speed—and makes it less likely that customers will stick around.

After all, many food truck customers are people on the go who need to eat but don’t have the time to visit a more traditional restaurant. In these cases, long wait lines and slow service often represent money taken elsewhere.

Mobile Order Ahead for Food Trucks

Given the nature of food truck service, mobile order-ahead options may be the perfect solution to these challenges.

At its core, mobile order ahead lets QSRs build out their service channels to reach customers via mobile app or web browser. Businesses with the right mobile order-ahead partner can upload their menus into a simple interface and reap the benefits of a fully-integrated digital ordering solution that brings the food truck directly to the customer.

But wait. Doesn’t the food truck already go directly to the customer?

Well, yes—food trucks do have flexibility in that regard—but mobile-ordering options provide a much-needed digital channel that lets customers connect to the roving food truck from anywhere and everywhere.

It works just the same way as it does for more traditional QSRs like Starbucks. Rather than waiting in line for coffee, customers can have their Unicorn Frappuccinos made in advance, ready for pickup at a moment’s notice. The same concept applies to the fast-moving world of food trucks.

By letting customers order ahead through their preferred digital channel, this industry is opening up service possibilities in some interesting new ways.

Sell More Through Mobile Order Ahead

Primarily, mobile order ahead comes down to convenience. Food truck customers can order ahead, skip the walk-in line, and get their food quickly. This is a clear advantage for this particular customer segment, as food truck purchases (especially in more crowded, competitive areas) are often a matter of convenience. Which trucks are nearby, and which have the longest lines?

A line wrapped around the truck can turn potential customers away if they have a tight lunch schedule—but with mobile order ahead, you can capture more of this revenue and increase your throughput at the same time. (Lines move a lot faster when everyone’s order is ready!)

Support customers with efficient service

But it’s not just about attracting new business. As companies like Starbucks have learned, it’s about supporting your regular, most loyal customers as well. Every food truck owner gets to know a few regulars who come back time and again. Mobile order-ahead options help these customers establish their routines and receive the same speed, quality, and level of service that they’ve come to expect. It’s not just about earning new customers. It’s about delighting the customers you have—an important and under-represented aspect of QSR customer service.

Showcase menu options and upsell

Don’t forget about the visibility this method can bring to your brand as well! A common problem for vendors of any kind, and food trucks in particular, is advertising space. Compared to other QSRs, food trucks have limited room for displaying menu boards, options, or promotions. Creating a mobile component gives you a new platform for sharing all of this information.

When customers have the whole menu at their fingertips, they’ll be more willing to browse and explore new offerings rather than just getting their usual order and rushing through the line. In this way, mobile order ahead for food trucks can be a powerful way to upsell and promote higher-value products.

Mobile Ordering Is the Future

Yes, while there’s no replacing the tried-and-true physical appeal of a roving food truck, mobile-ordering options are the future of QSR outreach. This applies even more so to roving vendors, as customers need stable, reliable ways to find the truck on schedule and place orders without hesitation.

The practice is catching on for food truck vendors, but it’s certainly not stopping there. Companies across all areas of food service and hospitality are exploring these options to great effect. In fact, in one survey, 59% of respondents agreed they were facing disruption from competitors who had already deployed mobile order-ahead options.

Is your company ready to get on board?