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?