How Digitally Savvy Restaurants Are Improving Their Mobile Apps – Restaurant Business Online | Hot Mobile Press

Photo courtesy of Chipotle Mexican Grill

Does your restaurant’s mobile app allow customers to schedule an order for the future? Can they customize their meal? Can you track his status in real time?

If so, good news: They have what are believed to be table inserts for a solid digital ordering experience, according to a new report from tech researcher Incisiv. But you could still be behind the curve.

Incisiv examined the apps and websites of 100 restaurant brands to determine which major chains are leaders in terms of digital experience. The difference between the top performers and the rest of the pack is that the leaders offer both basic functionality and unique features that can enhance the customer experience.

Here’s a look at six of those additional bells and whistles from chains ranking at the top of their digital games, according to Incisiv’s 2022 Digital Maturity Benchmark report.

Availability of menu items

Many restaurants offer online ordering, but few let customers know if what they’re ordering is actually available. Among the chains surveyed by Incisiv, only 16% provide visibility into inventory. With supply chain issues that have made stockouts commonplace, this capability is arguably more important than ever.

Starbucks is a chain that breaks with the mold here. The coffee giant’s app and website include callouts when a product is either sold out or unavailable at that store.

Starbucks websiteThe Starbucks app and website will indicate when an item is sold out.

Check in for pickup

Only 12% of restaurants allow customers to notify the restaurant when they arrive to pick up an order. But the option could reduce wait times and give guests the impression that their food is being freshly prepared, Incisiv noted.

Chick-fil-A’s app, for example, has an “I’m here” button that diners can press when entering the restaurant to alert the staff to get the order ready.

menu filter

Customers are increasingly looking for menu items that meet specific dietary or allergy guidelines. Restaurants haven’t necessarily made it easy for them. Only 5% of brands allow customers to filter their menus based on their dietary preferences, Incisiv found.

Last summer, Chipotle Mexican Grill launched a tool that allows customers to do just that. Users can apply different filters, including vegetarian, vegan, paleo, and keto, as well as ingredients they want to avoid, like gluten. The app will only show you items that meet these specifications.

Chipotle websiteChipotle Diet Preferences Filter

Contactless delivery

The ability for a customer to instruct a delivery driver on how to drop off their food is a common feature in third-party delivery apps, but according to Incisiv, only about 30% of restaurants offer contactless delivery on their own ordering channels. Even fewer (8%) allow customers to be specific about where to leave the food.

Sweetgreen is one of those few. The salad chain’s app allows customers to select detailed drop-off options, such as “meet at the door,” “meet outside,” or “leave at the door,” and also has a notes section for customers to provide a locker security code or other drop-off information be able.

Exclusive menu items

Restaurants often struggle to get customers to order directly through their own app/website instead of through a third-party aggregator. One way to encourage the direct route is to offer items through this channel that guests can’t get anywhere else. However, according to Incisiv, only 5% of brands currently offer online-only products.

Chipotle has done this with many of its new menu items, and Taco Bell’s app has a dedicated “Online Exclusives” section that includes the Quesarito and the customizable My Cravings Box.

Taco Bell websiteTaco Bell’s online-only menu

feedback tools

According to Incisiv, only 14% of customers file complaints directly with the restaurant.

Many more (38%) choose to air their grievances publicly, on social media and other platforms. This could be because many restaurants don’t have a way for digital customers to leave feedback. 35% allow guests to provide feedback on the app itself, while only 11% allow guests to provide pickup/delivery feedback or make suggestions. Tim Hortons offers all three.

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