In today’s restaurant market, it is critical to capitalize on off-premise ordering. According to Restaurant Business, it’s the single biggest trend in the industry, with delivery alone projected to grow by 12 percent over the next five years.
As more people turn to their phones to order food and get information about restaurants, it may seem like the only way to keep up is to get an app of your own, or jump aboard something like GrubHub. After all, big brands like Starbucks and Taco Bell have seen huge success with apps, right?
Before you start building, it’s important to understand the benefits and logistics of restaurant apps. Is it worth the time and money of integrating or creating an app? Should you have your own app, or use someone else’s? And if you decide to use restaurant delivery apps, which food delivery trends should you follow?
Creating your own app
Large brands like Dominos have seen huge success creating food delivery apps, but they have something going for them that most restaurants don’t — an existing consumer base that spans most of the country, thanks to their franchises and advertising budgets.
That means that when they release an app, it’s more likely to get a large number of users and push it toward the top of the app listings which generates even more downloads. The problem then, for medium or small restaurants, is that they don’t have that kind of consumer base. Considering that even large brands don’t have the majority of their consumer base using delivery apps, you’re unlikely to get the download numbers required to bring attention to your app.
The bottom line? Creating your own app can be expensive, time-consuming, and may not expand your consumer base enough to justify the cost. If your research determines that building your own app will not be cost-effective or beneficial, don’t worry. You can turn to mobile sites and third-party apps to interact online with customers.
The first thing to consider when you’re thinking about using a third-party app for your restaurant is how you’re going to maintain your presence on it. Do you have a menu that changes often with rotating daily or weekly specials?
All of those menu variations, if they are available for delivery, should be reflected in your presence on the app. This means that you’re going to need someone to keep track of all of that information and update it as necessary.
Even if your restaurant doesn’t have a lot of information that needs changing, you should also consider whether the app is actually expanding your delivery area in a beneficial way. If you join an app that covers a delivery area that you already serve, is it worth the added time of maintaining menu information on the app?
Costs of using apps
Don’t forget to think about the actual costs of using a third-party app. For example, apps like GrubHub charge you as much as 10 percent of every order to use their service. So on top of the costs of creating the meal, running the kitchen, and so on, you also have to pay money to have your food delivered.
If the cost of the app’s services are cheaper than hiring and paying drivers of your own, this could be a good financial choice for your restaurant. Be sure to do the calculations as you consider the true costs of using a food delivery app.
Alternatives to apps
Before you dive in with both feet to an app, consider focusing on your own mobile website first. A responsive mobile site can provide many of the same advantages as third-party apps with fewer direct costs. Plus, they’re easier to share and find than sifting through a page full of food apps on a smartphone.
Food delivery apps can be very useful, but they may not be the best choice for your restaurant, especially if you already have a thriving social media presence. Domino’s customers, for example, can order from Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and other social platforms with a hashtag or emoji. They can also order by voice from smart home and smart wearable devices.
With a rise in chatbot technology, perhaps providing a way for your customers to use social platforms to place their order rather than dedicated delivery apps may prove to be a more cost-effective option.
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Rewards Network® does not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.