QSR Customers Ordering Meals Via Smartphone On The Rise


Philz Coffee added a new way for consumers to skip the counter in March by adding a new order-ahead mobile app with a personal twist: The chain features a picture of the barista working on the coffee within the app. The idea is to add a bit of customization with convenience.

“You might be one of our customers that comes on the weekends when you have time with families and friends to hang out,” Philz Coffee CEO Jacob Jaber told TechCrunch. “But on the weekdays, when you’re at work, you’re gonna order via the app.”

Philz Coffee is hardly the only quick-service restaurant (QSR) to adopt mobile-ordering technology. Restaurants are increasingly offering mobile ordering capabilities to give customers the convenient dining experiences they crave, according to the PYMNTS Mobile Order-Ahead Tracker. Here’s how QSRs from  Starbucks to McDonald’s are integrating the technology.

New QSR Offerings

For Starbucks, 12 percent of its Q2 2018 transactions were made through mobile order at U.S. locations. The coffee chain added 1.6 million new U.S. members to its Starbucks Rewards program. In addition, Starbucks discovered that members of the rewards program were buying more. Over the quarter, their spend increased to 39 percent of U.S. company-operated sales.

Chipotle saw a 41 percent increase in mobile ordering between Q1 2017 and Q1 2018. The news comes as Chipotle rolled out a new mobile app in November, aimed at enhancing the customer’s dining and online ordering experience. Curt Garner, chief digital and information officer at Chipotle, said, “Our guests are increasingly mobile and on-the-go, and they want and deserve the same intuitive, accurate and convenient ordering experience they get in our restaurants. That is exactly what our app delivers.”

The Dunkin’ Donuts loyalty program counted 8.5 million members as of Q1 2018, and they have some cool features. Dunkin’ Donuts and Google, for example, have jointly announced the rollout of mobile voice-ordering via Google Assistant, according to recent reports. That means Dunkin’ rewards members will now be able to chat up Google’s Assistant after they’ve synced up their accounts and get their orders in on the go. The program is supposedly compatible with iOS and Android devices.

Twenty thousand McDonald’s restaurants offer mobile-ordering and delivery services. In addition, the chain is upping its in-store technology and planning to add self-service kiosk ordering, digital smart menu boards, custom-order options and even table service. It’s working toward rolling out these technology upgrades in all of its worldwide locations by the end of 2018.

QSR Tech On The Rise

Thirty-nine percent of U.S. QSR customers ordered meals via a smartphone app within the past 90 days, according to a February 2018 survey. That figure comes as customers of QSRs continue to embrace technology to make orders. In 2015, only 11 percent of consumers reported placing an order via smartphone app.

Though Jaber added that he wants the Philz Coffee app to mimic the feeling consumers would get from ordering directly at a Philz location, he doesn’t want it to take the place of the original ordering experience. The app is merely another option.

“We’re not co-mingling experiences and diluting each one,” Jaber said. “There’s nothing changing about the Philz experience in the store; there’s only a better mobile experience. It’s not like we’re diluting the in-store experience versus the mobile. We’re very conscious about that choice. We can probably get more efficiency, but there are different experiences.”