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SIMMER'S INSIGHT

 

To App or Not to App

Apps themselves have become very much ingrained in the fabric of our day-to-day lives. We wake, snooze, browse, and considerably gauge our day’s worth of productivity based on how little, or how much, we use our mobile apps. Though we are well-educated in the practical convenience they provide, for restaurants, apps have the potential to activate behavior and incite cultural revolution.  But more importantly for you, our loyal restaurateurs-in-arms, they have the ability to increase your bottom line.

There’s no real need to encourage the move into the mobile space. The stats are on our side for this one. In the USA, more than two-thirds of the population owns a smartphone. Couple this statistic with the fact that online ordering is booming (or has boomed, depending on how you look at it), and it comes as no surprise that more and more restaurant groups are making their entry into the app world.

With the current mobile obsession, restaurants are hard-pressed to resist the temptations of the app world. Launching a successful app has the potential to activate brand awareness and drive business initiatives - that in turn can launch any restaurant group. But what must one consider before embarking on this journey?

As of late, digital innovation has become a chief concern to boost business. The recently appointed Starbucks CTO, Gerri Martin-Flickinger - previously CIO at Adobe - adds further weight to this claim. Martin-Flickinger’s role is a newly created one, and ingenious at that. With the objective to accommodate the growing needs of the technological space and improve the lives of their customers, Martin-Flickinger and Starbucks started work on what became the most successful app in our space.  After a very successful launch to a happy user base, mobile transactions now comprise a booming 20 percent of all Starbucks transactions! With Martin-Flickinger on board, this goes to show that traditional business models see the importance of big data analytics and mobile technology. Innovation in app technology is crucial in disrupting markets to retain, acquire, and serve even more customers.  Now, keeping those customers happy is another piece of the puzzle (new blog on their controversial decision to change rewards program later).

Technology-based solutions can, and do, drive business. Marketing and distribution aside, mobile apps for restaurants can help realize a digital presence for brands and open many pockets for business development if done correctly. Even conglomerates such as McDonald’s failed in its initial attempts at securing a foothold in the app market for the sheer fact that their model lacked the incentive, innovation and thought of other app models like Dunkin Donuts, Gyu-Kaku and Chipotle.

We’ve seen it work for the traditional business model, and casual concepts like Starbucks, but can it be applied to fine dining restaurants? Sure, there are a multitude of dining apps, but none really dedicated to brick and mortar establishments. Considering the fact that most dining apps incentivize and simplify purchase, it could be said that these parameters restrict entry for restaurants who may believe apps “cheapen” their brand’s image.

Optimizing a webpage will always prove more cost efficient than optimizing an app. If the app is not developed with an innovative objective, it can qualifiably damage the brand’s image and the perception of the brand. They require routine maintenance and updates that are otherwise out of reach for smaller scale businesses.

Expenses aside, apps offer more to users with experiential service and offerings otherwise untapped on a online browser. It’s no doubt that a mobile app can help business.  But where do you need help now? Are you looking to implement a loyalty program?  Are you looking to grow your online ordering and catering business?  Are you looking to gather customer feedback  to ensure the process is perfect? These are the questions that you must ask yourself when making a decision on the next step.

Now that you’re equipped with all this info, what are you going to do? Does your restaurant need to take a big step forward and launch an app?  Make sure you have a professional plan in place and someone with a proven track record in not only apps, but in the restaurant industry. Someone like Simmer Media Group.

Ryan Cuvelier