Why Restaurants Need Mobile Ordering & Loyalty Reward Apps

By: Melissa Canellis


Today having a restaurant mobile app and a strong digital presence is paramount to the success of your business. After overcoming the challenges of the past 18 months, you’ve seen the shift in customer behavior and understand the importance of knowing who your customers are. Equally important is having the ability to digitally communicate with guests and provide them a quick and easy way to order from you. This is all accomplished with the right restaurant app. 

Over the past several years, the demand for building out this digital channel has grown. Punchh has found it is an important factor for brands, as more than  80% of the customers we work with have their restaurant app designed through our solution. Modern brands understand that taking the right approach to building their mobile app is paramount for delivering a seamless, safe and engaging customer journey that reflects their brand’s personality. 

And while many restaurants already have a website, often with an online experience for ordering, it’s not enough. It has become crucial to enable customers to use digital channels to order from your brand. A 2020 research report by Service Management Group indicates that customers prefer ordering directly via a brand’s app over their website. Brands without an integrated digital ordering experience are simply losing customers to competitors and third-party vendors. 

Restaurant Apps Provide Digital Ordering & Contactless Payments Options

Everyone saw the initial growth of online food ordering during the pandemic, with increases from 20-30% in the U.S. alone. Restaurant app mobile ordering is easier for brands than having to take orders over the phone. It also gives brands the ability to upsell during the ordering process and offer a range of contactless payment solutions, such as stored credit cards, NFC-based Apple Pay and Google Pay, as well as Venmo and Zelle options. 

In case you have doubts that digital ordering is here to stay, Punchh customers continue to gain market share with digital growth from 26% in 2019 to 33% in 2020 and 41% estimated in 2021. Combine this with the 15% check lift they saw for digital sales compared to in-store sales in 2021, and it’s clearly an investment that quickly pays for itself and provides your customers with the easy, convenient experience they crave.

Mobile Apps for Restaurants Innovate Pickup & Delivery Systems

Pickup and delivery handled through a branded app offers restaurants the benefits of creating a frictionless, safe, end-to-end experience for customers and employees. Not surprisingly, a recent COVID-19 And The Future Of Commerce report found that 87 percent of consumers want restaurants and other brands to continue to offer curbside pickup and other processes that guarantee minimal food contact and limit the need for in-person visits. Native systems integrated through a restaurant’s app also provide brands with ownership of their data to continue driving better customer experiences and engagement moving forward.

Restaurant Apps Combined with Loyalty Programs Deliver Rewarding Customer Experiences 

Tropical Smoothie Cafe launched a mobile-based loyalty program in 2020, during the middle of the pandemic. They prioritized delivering a superior digital experience that met their customers where they are and highlighted:

  • Choosing an order mode within the app (delivery, curbside and in-cafe pickup) 
  • Improved order location accuracy 
  • Access to recent order history 
  • Saving favorite orders to make reordering easier 
  • Scanning receipts to earn rewards 
  • Easily tracking earned and redeemed points 
  • Access to personalized offers & promotions 
  • Safe touchless payment & delivery options

It was a successful launch and has increased Tropical Smoothie’s digital presence as 66% of all loyalty sales are online YTD. One of the biggest reasons the Tropical Smoothie mobile-based loyalty program works is that the data and interaction is on their customers’ phones and their customers are never without their phones. An integrated mobile rewards solution drives engagement through 1:1 interactions with the delivery of the right promotion, at the right time over the right channel…mobile.

The best loyalty programs offer a powerful incentive that helps draw customers into your digital ecosystem. With the right restaurant app and mobile features, marketers have the capabilities for motivating behavior based on business goals to drive sales and customer lifetime value. The proof is already happening as Punchh loyalty program data shows that loyal customers spend 40X more on average than non-loyalty members. 

Read the NEW ebook – 5 Digital Capabilities to Optimize Customer Relationships & Drive Loyalty Sales to learn more about the most important digital components for increasing participation, orders and higher CLV. Get it today!

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