Mobile Order Ahead

Going Mobile To Make Food More Personal

As the popularity of mobile order-ahead solutions has surged, consumers’ expectations for their QSR have surged too, Matthew Furman, VP of Marketing for Robeks Fresh Juice and Smoothies tells PYMNTS. In the latest Mobile Order-Ahead Tracker, Furman explains how mobile order-ahead has changed consumer behavior at its 80 locations and his thinking on what POS solutions must include to support it. While you’re at it, check out who’s on top in the mobile order-ahead apps world.

Be it through mobile or online, keeping consumers coming back through the doors requires quick-service restaurants (QSRs) to offer experiences tailored to their diners’ preferences. After all, different consumers have different palates, and not everyone takes a liking to the taste of kale in their smoothies.

Restaurants understand that and are now using mobile ordering solutions to cater to customized ordering habits. That includes national QSR franchise chain Robeks Fresh Juices & Smoothies, which rolled out its first mobile ordering solution this month, enabling customers to personalize orders from smoothies to açaí bowls.

While the ability to place mobile or online orders at Robeks has only been available to the public for two weeks, Vice President of Marketing Matthew Furman told PYMNTS the company is already seeing customers take advantage of the increased customization offerings.

“Already, we’ve found that customization is so crucial when it comes to our customers,” Furman said. “For whatever reason, this online ordering app and environment has really brought it out in [them]. They seem to be more willing to customize their orders than they would be in the store.”

 

A Solution to Keep Up with the Digital Joneses

QSRs as an industry have increasingly been adopting mobile ordering solutions. It’s no wonder, then, that mobile ordering is projected to become a $55 billion business by 2022.

For Robeks, the decision to introduce a mobile ordering solution was largely driven by an effort to keep pace with competition in the space.

“We — both at Robeks and, certainly, myself personally — had seen the shift in the marketplace,” Furman said. “We recognized online ordering’s influence both in customer behavior and in the data being reported throughout the industry. So, we thought it was the way of the future and — in order to give our customers the experience they wanted and deserved — we needed to launch a digital ordering program.”

Rolling out a mobile ordering solution also presented an opportunity to fold the company’s loyalty program into the offering, he added. Robeks partnered with restaurant software provider Olo last year to build a mobile ordering solution, with loyalty solution provider Paytronix integrating the company’s reward program.

A few months into the development phase, and after some fine-tuning of the solution, Robeks opted to roll out a pilot program and test the solution before full release.

“First and foremost, we didn’t want to roll out the program until we felt comfortable with our infrastructure and worked to solidify everything,” Furman explained. “We had a lot of great franchisees who helped us test this and refine it. We also heard a lot of great feedback from customers that helped shape the app.”

It proved to be a valuable decision for Robeks. The bulk of its customers were using the solution to customize their orders, according to Furman, and wanted to do so even more. That realization led the company to put more emphasis on customization as it looked to cater to and increase customer demand for personalized services.

 

Changing Customer and Company Habits

Increased customization isn’t the only change Robeks has seen in customer ordering since the mobile solution’s introduction. Thanks to the new offering, customer orders seem to be getting larger, Furman said — and some of them are more complicated too.

Fulfilling mobile orders means catering to customers who want what they want, when they want it. For Robeks, that has meant upgrading its in-store operations to avoid complications.

The company tapped into its partnership with Olo to feed digital orders from its website directly into its existing in-store point of sale (POS). The solution is also designed to help franchises balance digital and in-store orders, ensuring neither group is forgotten.

Robeks also made improvements to that POS setup to speed up order processing and improve employees’ efficiency. The most noticeable changes were actually the result of employee feedback, Furman noted.

“One of the interesting things we learned from franchisees was that they felt it would be more beneficial to implement some sort of audible tone that could come through the store’s radio or POS system,” he said. “Something that could notify the store associates and the team members that an online order had been made. It’s designed to serve as a fail safe so none of those orders go unmade.”

The audio signal is set to debut in the company’s 80 franchise locations later this year.

 

A More Mobile Future 

After months of pilot testing, Robeks rolled out its full solution to the public on Feb. 5, just weeks ago. But, according to Furman, the company is already working to add new features and capabilities to the app — like increased payment acceptance options.

Customers can currently pay with credit or debit card, but the company plans to add mobile wallet acceptance in future app editions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it plans to add more customization capabilities soon too. Furman has seen customer expectations in the space continue to rise, and Robeks plans to offer increased customization capabilities to meet those expectations.

“We view this entire digital ordering program as an ever-evolving entity,” he said. “We want it to continue to evolve with the needs of our customers and with the demands of the marketplace.”

Because whether it’s restaurants, retail or any industry in between, the customer is (almost) always right — including when they want faster ordering capabilities, more payment acceptance options or increased customization.

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About the Tracker

The Mobile Order-Ahead Tracker™ serves as a monthly framework for the space, providing coverage of the most recent news and trends, along with a provider directory highlighting the key players contributing across the segments that comprise the mobile order-ahead ecosystem. 

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