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Mobile Apps for Your Restaurant: the Ultimate Guide to Set It Up

The world is going mobile. That became clear back in November 2016, when the number of mobile users officially exceeded the number of desktop users. Thus, you picked the right time to look into how to set up a mobile app for your restaurant – or restaurants, if you own a large corporate chain.

In case you’re still having a few doubts about this, here’s one more interesting fact to remember – 85% of mobile users who are looking for places to eat actually go on to make a purchase through the mobile app!

mobile app for restaurants

And when you look at how much people rely on their mobile devices nowadays, it’s not much of a surprise. Potential clients could be right outside your restaurant and you wouldn’t know it – all because your business doesn’t have an app.

Of course, building an app for your restaurant is easier said than done. True, there are plenty of tools you can use to make everything significantly easier.

However, you’re still left with having to think about all the features you’ll need to add – not to mention the development process itself!

Well, that’s why we’re here. We want to save you time and effort by showing you exactly how to set up a mobile app for your restaurant.

What to Keep in Mind When Thinking about the Overall Mobile App Design

When it comes to building apps, you must keep track of many vital elements. Here are the ones you must put into action, and what you need to know about each one of them:

1. The Appearance

We know – this seems like such a small detail compared to the rest of our list. So why did we mention it first?

It’s quite simple, actually – it’s the first thing your customers will see, after all. They must be able to instantly associate your app’s design with your restaurants. The look of your mobile app must offer them a sense of familiarity.

The icon design, the theme, and – most importantly – the colours have to act as a visual reminder for your clients.

Here’s a quick example: Use the same fonts in your app that you use in your menus.

restaurant loyalty app

That’s not all, though. The landing page users will see once they tap on your app is equally important too. It has to showcase all your app’s features (which we’ll get to in a moment) so that your clients know what they’re getting from the get-go.

2. The Menu(s)

Giving potential clients the power to browse your menus on their mobile devices is one of the best ways to get them interested in your restaurants.

After all, what’s more convenient than using your phone to check a restaurant’s menu, and deciding within minutes if you want to eat there and what you will be having?

Furthermore, by presenting your menus this way, you can also entice people who are familiar with your brand to become recurring customers on a regular basis.

How? By using push notifications to let them know about your daily specials or any seasonal offers, for instance.

Just make sure that:

  • The menu’s layout is clear
  • The info is always updated
  • You include photos of the food items

3. Mobile Ordering

In today’s fast-paced, tech-oriented society, most hungry customers prefer placing an order online using their mobile device. That’s especially true when it comes to delivery or pickup orders.

It’s just plain convenience. People would much rather place an order with just a few taps than making a call.

restaurant online orders

Plus, think of this in terms of productivity. When your customers place an order, your employees can get directly to work instead of wasting time by having to answer the phone.

And if large-scale restaurants like Domino’s and Papa John’s use mobile ordering to handle almost half of their orders, it’s quite clear you should follow in their footsteps.

All you have to do is ensure that the process is smooth and that clients can choose the pickup method, location, and time. Also, don’t forget to make it easy for them to select a payment method.

That brings us to our next point, actually.

4. Mobile Payments

Want to make your restaurant app stand out among the other apps on the market? Then introducing mobile payments is an excellent idea.

Basically, the app can feature a card with a barcode. Thus, clients will pay at your restaurants by scanning said barcode.

Let’s face it – that’s much more convenient than making clients rummage through their pockets, wallets, or purses. The more hassle-free the checkout process is, the happier your clients will be.

Oh, and make sure your app will show your users how much money they have left on their card.

Also, offer your customers an “Auto-Reload” option for their card balance. That means their balance will be automatically reloaded with a certain amount when it drops below a certain amount. Naturally, the client will decide what that amount will be.

Of course, don’t make it mandatory. Make it optional instead.

5. Loyalty Programs

Mobile apps are the best way to run a loyalty program for your customers in this day and age. It’s simple, cost-efficient, and it saves everyone time.

Just imagine it – your clients forgetting where they put their punch or stamp loyalty cards will no longer be an issue. Everything will be automated through your restaurant app instead.

restaurant loyalty programs

And it’s definitely worth it. Remember that acquiring a new customer costs you 5 times more than retaining an old one.

All in all, you’ll have an easier time keeping track of customers’ loyalty points. In fact, you can go the extra mile and ensure the app shows users:

  • What rewards they are currently eligible for
  • What rewards they will be eligible for
  • How many points they still need to accumulate

6. Promotions, E-Gifts, and Discounts

One way to encourage people to download and use your restaurant app is to offer them access to exclusive perks through it.

Plus, you can use these marketing tools to regain the interest of customers who haven’t been to your restaurants in a while.

loyalty discounts and promotions

If you send customers emails, texts messages, and push notifications – even better! You’ll quickly drive traffic to both your app and restaurant.

7. Data about Restaurants

Last but not least, you have to include basic info that is relevant for your customers, such as:

  • The store hours
  • The address
  • Other restaurants in your chain
  • A short “About” history

What’s more, you can even add data about the head chef or restaurant founder if you want. After all, users are already showing interest in your restaurant by using the app. Might as well offer them more insight to create a trust-based relationship between you and them.

How to Make Your Restaurant Apps Come to Life

So, now you know what elements you must include in your mobile app. But how do you go about doing that?

Well, you basically have 3 options:

  • Do it yourself
  • Hire a developer
  • Use an app-building platform

Here’s a quick overview of each method:

1. Do It Yourself

At first glance, this doesn’t sound like a bad idea – especially if you have some experience with developing apps.

However, you have to look at the whole picture. You already run a restaurant – or more, if it’s a corporate chain. Do you really have enough time to deal with this as well?

restaurant app

Sadly, handling such a project on your own means you might end up neglecting other aspects of the business. Something like that will only cost you money in the long run.

Moreover, you might just delay the project indefinitely by making excuses that you’ll eventually “start working on it.”

Lastly, if you have no programming experience, it means you’ll have to literally start from scratch with everything.

Pros:

  • You save money (in theory)

Cons:

  • Very time-consuming
  • You can end up postponing the project indefinitely
  • One single mistake can cost you a lot

2. Hire a Developer

Sure, you can hire a freelance developer to handle this project for you.

Sounds reasonable, right? They’ll take care of everything and you won’t have to worry about a thing.

It’s not as simple as that, though. You’ll have to be actively involved throughout the development process. After all, you’ll have to explain your design idea and offer constant feedback.

What’s more, you’ll have to spend a lot of time reviewing your options before you make a decision.

Money-wise, the fees vary from developer to developer. Just keep in mind that if the mobile app project ends up getting delayed even a little bit, it will cost you.

Also, remember that you might have to hire the developer again whenever you must update the app.

Pros:

  • Quality results (if you make the right choice)
  • You don’t need any programming experience
  • Quick turnaround (depending on the experience of the developer)

Cons:

  • It can cost you more long-term
  • Tiresome research
  • You must be actively involved – especially at the beginning
  • You’ll have to monitor the progress and offer feedback regularly

3. Use an App-Building Platform

Yes, you can actually use such a platform to develop your very own mobile app. Even better, you don’t really need any programming experience to do that.

In fact, the platform does most of the work for you. All you need to do is make a few decisions. Plus, most platforms offer quality integration with POS providers, as well as a way to keep track of all the customer data you need.

pos providers integration

Furthermore, you’ll definitely love the fact that most platforms come with decent pricing offers.

The only drawback is that you’ll have to do some research to find the right one.

Pros:

  • You have complete control
  • Cost-efficient
  • Very easy to handle (usually)
  • POS integration (among other features)
  • No programming experience needed

Cons:

  • Thorough research is required to find the right platform

So, Which Option Do You Choose Then?

The last one sounds pretty good, right?

Well, we know you don’t like the idea of spending your free time doing a lot of research and reading countless reviews.

That’s why we’re happy to say you won’t have to deal with any of that. Yes, you already found the right mobile app-building platform for your restaurants – Spoonity!

Our platform can offer someone as busy as you exactly what you need. For one, it features a white-label design. So, customizing your app’s appearance is extremely simple.

Moreover, Spoonity features world-class POS and web services integration, and am an Auto-Reload option. Thus, putting mobile payments, ordering, and quality menu designs into action will be a smooth process.

Now, we also understand how vital marketing campaigns are to someone like you. That’s why we made sure that creating and running campaigns through Spoonity is a breeze. Essentially, campaigns are 100% customizable, and you can start/stop them whenever you want.

Best of all – you can send unlimited text messages, emails, and push notifications.

restaurant marketing

Additionally, our platform even has Automated Cleaning House capabilities, so you won’t have to spend time compiling books at the end of the day. No, you’ll get to rest easy and relax instead!

As for loyalty programs – well, that’s our specialty. It’s safe to say that your customers will be very satisfied with the end result (just like you, for that matter).

Basically, Spoonity will help you:

  • Understand customer behaviours
  • Grow your loyalty programs with ease
  • Painlessly manage E-Gifts and rewards

And don’t worry about fixed prices. Spoonity comes with flexible pricing plans that can address the needs of both growing franchises and corporate chains.

All in all, we have plenty of experience with helping QSRs achieve their goals. We understand your needs, your customers, and know how to predict market changes.

We’re not just saying that – we even have a success story to back up our claims!

Also, if you have any questions or just want to say “Hi,” feel free to get in touch with us.

Teodor Marin

Thank you for visiting my profile. Here are a few words about me:

I was born in Transylvania(sorry, I'm not a vampire), but I lived in multiple places across Europe. For the last years, most of my focus went to the digital marketplace. I have been able to leverage my experience to build successful strategies, experiences, and new solutions for both, start-ups and established business.

I can understand exactly what you're looking for with very little direction. I'm an intense listener.

My background is in Online Marketing Consulting - SEO & Content Strategy and Digital Project Management - direction, coordination, implementation, execution, quality control and completion of web & mobile projects.

Thank you for taking time to read my profile,
Teo