To run a popular burger restaurant, it’s not enough to simply have a good grill and a fresh beef patty. With advances in technology, what happens online — outside the kitchen — can make a good restaurant experience a great one. At Shake Shack, for example, CEO Randy Garutti is focusing on new digital options to make his customers leave his restaurant feeling satisfied.
“What we want to add more of is that, with a great experience, you need great convenience,” Garutti told The Street. “Just look at the digital transformation of our brand and how people are choosing to interact with us more and more, such as through our app or delivery options or kiosks.”
Garutti and Shake Shack might be the exception rather than the rule. Most QSRs are falling behind in innovation, with the average score on the PYMNTS Restaurant Readiness Index a 38 out of 100. But to rise above the fray, here are five features that digitally savvy restaurants — like Shake Shack — use to serve customers in the digital age through mobile apps.
— Slightly less than half — or 45.1 percent — of QSRs provide a pick up in-store feature for mobile apps. At Shake Shack, burger-hungry customers can order ahead and pick up that cheeseburger in-store. After placing an order, guests can indicate a pick-up time, and the meal will be cooked to order so it’s fresh when they arrives. The app is not only for users of Apple’s iPhone. In 2017, the burger chain teamed up with Olo, a digital ordering provider, and mobile product agency Fuzz to roll out an Android app in the wake of its iOS app’s success.
— Almost two out of 10 — or 16.5 percent — of QSRs provide loyalty coupons on their apps. El Pollo Loco has a loyalty program, which was developed by Punchh, and is available through the fast-casual Mexican restaurant’s app. The premise is simple: For every dollar spent, customers earn a point. When they reach 100 points, they get a $10 reward. Noodles & Company has a rewards program as well that serves up unique offers and information tailored specifically to the recipient. There’s a sign-up reward of $3 off any order — valid for two weeks after joining the program — plus rewards for referring friends. As the NoodlesREWARDS app learns a diner’s preferences, it will begin to pitch personalized offers as well.
— And almost none — 1.3 percent — of QSRs offer curbside pickup through their app. But that may change. As convenience is the name of the game for retailers that want to provide a seamless and quality customer experience, same-day shopping brick-and-mortar service Curbside announced news of its partnership with Yelp. The move could help convert sales at a faster rate. As of the summer of 2017, Curbside users can search for businesses on Yelp, make an online order through mobile order-ahead and pick it up at a business’ curb without leaving their cars.
— Very few QSRs — only 4.2 percent — offer digital wallet payments on their apps. Casual dining restaurant chain Twin Peaks, for example, teamed with MyCheck to create its own mobile payment app. Through the app, customers can choose how they want to pay, which includes options like Apple Pay, PayPal, Google Wallet, along with debit and credit cards. The mobile app also has a built-in rewards program that will only be offered to customers who use the service.
— Almost one in 10 QSRs — or 9.2 percent — offer predictive ordering on their apps. TGI Fridays offers digital experiences for individual customers through the form of personalized recommendations and calls to action based on a customer’s order history and habits, which often results in repeat orders. Thirty-five percent of customers who receive messaging in that form place an order, even without coupons or other promotional discounts.
But not all innovations are technical. Some are offline but directly involve changes online. For example, the company has adapted to services like Postmates in its kitchens. “Delivery to the country for us is still a pretty new thing,” Garutti told The Street. “We just want to make sure we are doing it well. So, we will evolve our packaging for delivery orders. The orders will be warmer. It’s not an easy business.”