Sports are big business around the globe, so it comes as no surprise that retail innovation constantly takes place within that industry, and in combination with payments.
Mobile order-ahead is in use at sporting and concert venues, where attendees no longer have to wait in long concession lines for their nachos or hot dogs. However, mobile concession ordering apps like FanFood still encounter their fair share of security and logistical challenges.
PYMNTS recently spoke to Dustin Hemesath, FanFood’s co-founder and national sales manager, about the company’s position in the industry and how it meets logistical and security challenges.
Working from the Bottom Up
Hemesath founded FanFood in 2017 with Carson Goodale and William Anderson. The app was initially available at just six locations in California, Iowa and Texas, but now caters to more than 60 venues across the United States. Two of the larger venues it serves are the University of North Carolina’s Kenan Memorial Stadium and Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California, home of the Earthquakes Major League Soccer team.
“We are not currently in MLB, NFL or NBA facilities, but we are working from the bottom up … with lots of high schools, sports complexes and colleges,” Hemesath said.
FanFood supplies venues and concession stands with mobile app-enabled tablets that can display incoming orders. The company assigns a manager to oversee operations at each site as well as food runners if the venue’s staff cannot handle delivery. Concession stands are responsible for receiving and fulfilling orders themselves.
FanFood collects several data points through customers’ purchases, including frequency, size and the venues from which they order. It also gathers demographic and locational data from users’ devices that it hopes to utilize for sophisticated analytics in the near future.
“We are super excited to analyze and see how [the data points] affect decision-making on using the mobile products versus standing and waiting in line at the concession stand, and if there’s any correlation there,” he said.
Sports arenas, concert venues and other locations have seen notable increases in the number of food orders placed through FanFood’s app.
“[Usually] people order only one time – if that – at a venue, and more than 40 percent of people last year abandoned [their orders] in the concession line,” Hemesath said. “But we’ve seen that for fans who download [the app] and use it, about 40 percent to 50 percent of them will come back during that same event and place a second order.”
FanFood has faced several challenges despite its steady growth. Hemesath said one of the company’s biggest hurdles has been handling concession stand ordering. Third-party order-ahead heavyweights such as Postmates and Grubhub have food pickup and delivery logistics down to a science, but FanFood is still building its infrastructure. Many of the platform’s clients are smaller arenas that did not previously offer mobile order-ahead services.
And that’s not all.
With sports teams such as the Carolina Hurricanes moving to distribute tickets nearly exclusively via mobile, fans are now tapping into digital platforms to access sporting events. And almost nine in 10 – or 87 percent – of tickets in the Carolina Hurricanes’ playoffs last season were scanned from mobile devices via quick response (QR) codes.
When it comes to purchasing, a rising share of consumers in the U.S. and other countries are using their smartphones to book seats and skip long lines. According to the Commerce Connected Playbook, approximately 80 million people bought mobile tickets for sporting events last year. And consumers are forecast to spend $23 billion on mobile tickets by 2023.
Expect much more movement toward mobile in the world of sports in the new year and new decade.