Imagine there are two Italian restaurants — let’s call them Restaurant X and Restaurant Y — located in the same town, with the same number of visitors daily, and almost identical price points. But at the end of the month, Restaurant Y makes 20% more profit. How so?
Unlike in the case with Restaurant X, the owners of Restaurant Y decided to complement their offline establishment with a custom restaurant application. Considering the increasing number of mobile phone users who choose to place orders online, Restaurant Y launched its application that helped them stay ahead of competitors.
Clearly, modern users expect a different buying experience. They want to order with a few taps, have food delivered right at the doorstep, earn points, make cashless payments, etc. If you own a dining area, you’d better think the way modern users think and act in conformity with their expectations. And restaurant mobile app development is the nearest way to fit customer expectations and grow own profits.
» Reasons that make a restaurant app a necessity
› It increases brand awareness
What’s better: to have a wide or deep customer base? Let’s find out the difference between these two options.
A wide customer base stands for a great number of clients: one-time customers and regular ones. And in this case, the restaurant is working on expanding the base and making it grow ignoring the ratio between new and regular visitors. A deep customer base comprises over 60% of loyal customers that make big orders on a regular basis.
These days, marketers agree to the idea that a deep base is more important than a wide one. I believe that an app for restaurants allows businesses to stand somewhere between helping them preserve regular customers and attract new ones.
› It reaches customers via push notifications
Restaurant applications have a tool that can:
1. Inform customers about special offers
2. Remind users to complete their orders
3. Send notices about special offers if customers are passing within 250 (or less) meters from the dining area
Some marketers even state that push notifications are replacing emails because they are small and people are more likely to read them.
NB: It’s important not to overdo with the use of push notifications. It is suggested to use a restaurant app to send not more than two notifications weekly.
› It makes sales grow
In 2014, Taco Bell decided to build and release their mobile application on two platforms. A year after the release, the number of downloads reached 3,000,000+. It was estimated that on average orders placed via this app were $10+. And that’s nearly 20% higher than regular in-house orders.
You can say that the numbers are controversial since Taco Bell is a well-known chain. Yet, small or big, all businesses want to follow the same scheme — earn more than you spend. And those that choose to build restaurant apps surely earn more.
App development is the right step unless the business is at its initial stage. Then entrepreneurs should go with third-party platforms available on the market. Once their business grasps enough ground, they can think over hiring a restaurant app development company to build their own branded application.
» How to craft a restaurant app: must-have, highly-valued, and controversial features
If you take a quick look at popular application stores, you’ll see heaps of applications for standalone and chain restaurants. If you were asked to decide what app to choose for your personal use, you would definitely download highly-rated ones. They have become the top choice among users due to their appealing design and the set of features.
And these are the two main rules that should guide a restaurant owner when he decides to make a restaurant app. The first rule’s clear — the app should be eye-catching. For that purpose, restaurant owners hire qualified UI/UX designers.
The second rule is a bit puzzling, isn’t it? What features should be added? Well, there are three categories of them:
Let’s briefly go through each category.
› Menu: It should be eye-catching and easy-to-use. The menu should present dishes in a detailed manner: pictures, preparation time, ingredients, and nutritional information. Today’s trend is to allow customers to customize their dishes. This option is beneficial for increasing ROI.
› Search: Enable your customers to search for food to their taste and filter it by price or nutritional information — everything for the enhancement of user experience.
› Ordering: Quick and easy order placement without the need to make calls and talk to a manager is what modern users appreciate the most. This is why this feature is among the must-haves. What is more, it’s a must to organize an in-house delivery team to allow customers to place orders and have them delivered at the doorstep.
› Reservations: Again, no phone calls. With an app, users can quickly reserve a table for a specific date and time. And via a built-in interactive floor map, they even can choose a table.
› Payments: Going cashless enables quick customer transactions. And this ability to make payments online is convenient both to customers and restaurants.
› History: Quick access to the history of orders and bookings allows diners to check what menu positions they used to choose. This allows them to save time while placing new orders.
NB: These features are hardly enough to make a restaurant mobile application noticeable.
› Notifications: It is push notifications that inform users about new menu positions or discounts, confirm bookings, or remind about reservations. They have almost replaced emails. Since they are short, they are valued and read.
› Geolocation: This feature is for chains with establishments in every city. With its help, users easily navigate to a dining area.
› Reviews: Online customers mostly look through reviews before ordering. The ability to access reviews via a branded application adds credibility to the restaurant.
› Loyalty: Customers love when restaurants provide discounts and bonuses, offer complement dishes and free items as rewards for their loyalty. So make sure your customers earn them when using the app.
NB: If offering more, you make your application noticeable.
› Languages: This feature usually becomes a part of the app’s functionality if the restaurant is located in the city with many tourists or it’s a chain that operates internationally.
› Social media: It’s true that modern customers love to share their dining experience with friends and family. But most of them don’t appreciate the ability to log in with Facebook or Instagram since they are concerned about security risks.
Mind that you will need a separate app for the restaurant. A solid backend is a must to enable owners, partners, and managers to store, access, and manage all data.
» Budget to create a restaurant app
The moment of truth… Everyone expects to see exact numbers like It’ll cost you $100.000 to build your own branded application for the restaurant. In reality, the final cost depends on the choice of the features from the categories described above, the complexity of the design, the team you hire, and their hourly rates.
Having worked on an app for self-order kiosks, we share first-hand information.
Wishing to improve customer experience, grow client base as well as brand loyalty, Can Tho restaurant owner decided to build an app for their kiosks that would help the restaurant automate many of their in-house processes. So he decided on a vast number of features.
Today, the Can Tho restaurant has kiosks that allow guests to browse the menu, customize dishes according to preferences, place orders in a few taps, pay, and receive a receipt.
Going back to developing a restaurant app, to know the cost, multiply the number of hours needed for building by hourly rates. For example, the team spent 3,586 hours developing an app for Can Tho.
As soon as you contact a reliable app development company, ask them to provide rough estimates. Then, the decision on the design and features will be made depending on your budget.
Now that you know all about the benefits, features, and possible expenses, create an app that can make your business grow.