Mobile applications allow customers to choose location, menu, and to select from the menu. They also include "secret" menu items not in stores, available only on the mobile app, for a limited amount of time, for customers who want the best bang for their buck, in terms of the price/value relationship and where convenience is king. They're a convenient way for guests to order and interact with the product. It's not optional, you have to have it as part of your marketing mix. If you don't have a mobile app, then you are behind. Our app also is bundled to the store aesthetic, providing an extension of the Elevation Burger experience. When it's time for lunch or dinner, if customers can access us on the mobile app, it keeps us top of mind.
You can reach a wider customer base. Our app also has a lovely dashboard, showing how many people downloaded it, how often they use it, and the average ticket. The ROI is very measurable. And it's very easy for each store to customize offers; for example, "free fries with purchase of burger and soft drink M-F, 2-5 p.m." And at their store only. It puts the power of the mobile app in the hands of the client.
It's an essential part of our marketing mix and provides metrics to measure ROI and what we are getting back. It was difficult in the beginning. The keys to smooth operations are a seamless back-end POS integration. Functionality and usability seamlessly connected with your POS is important. It should not add work for the mobile user or the hourly employee. Our app processes just as if the guest had handed a credit card over in the store - there are no extra buttons to push and the processing is done through our system rather than a third party. The first launch was about 18 months ago. When we switched to a national-level app, it was tough in terms of figuring out how to get customers to download the app again. We did that through Facebook and Twitter promotions, as well as a QR (quick response) code at each POS, which took customers to a location to download it right there, rather than expecting them to go home and download it from their computer. It's putting ease and convenience into guests' hands, not "Let me go home and download." It's of the moment, convenient, right there. Another way to boost ROI is the more people who have the app, the more will use it. It's pleasing to look at, easy to use, and easy to pay.
The bottom line is that mobile apps are great, but if no one knows about them they won't do any good. Effective communication is critical. They're an essential part of the marketing mix for QSR and take-away food service. Communicate the existence of the mobile app in relevant ways. Smartphones are a growing population. You also can use text message promotions, mobile loyalty programs, social media, the company website, and QR code at the POS.
James Stewart is creative fund and brand manager for Elevation Burger. Contact him at email@example.com.
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