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11 Ways Mobile Technology Can Help Restaurants

  • by: Shannon Harper
  • On: 6, Aug 2020
14 min read

Can mobile technology help the restaurant and retail industry? Consider a 2018 Pew Research Survey showing that 94% of adults aged 18-29 in the United States own a smartphone. Also, 89% of smartphone users are 30-49 years old. 

If restaurants, cafes, or retail companies want to reach their target demographics, they must connect with them through the devices they use the most: their smartphones. 

The same survey showed that 49% of Millennials prefer a digital restaurant receipt to a paper receipt.

That age group is the most opinionated, adept, and engaged group of mobile users anywhere. 

While there are many more, here are the top eleven reasons mobile technology is worth the effort. 

mobile technology in restaurants1. Increased Visibility

Brands can use mobile technology to know when guests are in or around different locations. Marketing specials, upselling, or encouraging guests to visit again are also productive uses of mobile technology. 


2. Better Connections

The flexibility that mobile devices provide is one of the most significant benefits. Mobile ordering, for instance, can make the ordering experience more straightforward for customers, and it might even make the lines shorter and increase business efficiency. Mobile ordering also reduces human errors, another plus which can improve guest satisfaction. Hosts and servers will also spend less time on the phone. 

One restaurant using this technology for its benefit is Subway, which allows users to choose and pay for their meal before leaving their home or office and allowing guests to pick it up without any wait at the restaurant. The chain now has shorter lines and wait times in its stores. Starbucks also uses mobile technology ordering and has seen results similar to Subway. In fact, as of July of 2016, mobile orders and payment account for 20% Starbucks' transactions or about $9 million every week.


3. Online Ordering

According to Facebook's restaurant report, digital channel sales are on pace to reach 30% of total sales for U.S. restaurants by 2025. Additionally, 60% of U.S. consumers already order delivery or takeout once a week. Especially within the restaurant industry's unstable pandemic climate, it's crucial to capitalize on online orders as much as possible. Online marketing to tell guests about online ordering capabilities is paramount.

mobile technology in retail4. Increased Profits

Surveys have shown that customers who use traditional loyalty programs total about 12%, but when they had the chance to pay from a smartphone, that increased to 18-28%. When customers had the additional option to order online, that number increased to 15-35%. 

One restaurant that has used mobile technology successfully is Earl of Sandwich. Their customers spend an average of 22% more when using the restaurant's mobile technology.


5. Improved Loyalty

One business that has used a loyalty program successfully is Chili's. Their loyalty program is entirely digital. The chain provides personalized offers to customers based on their purchases. Chili's offers challenges to customers so they can gain points, which allow them to try a new menu item. Additionally, Chili's has small kiosks at tables so customers can participate in the program while dining, thus accumulating points. 

Taking virtual loyalty a step forward, Bloom Intelligence offers a loyalty program that integrates with Cisco Meraki access points. The access points ping off of guest cell phones (whether or not they connect to WiFi) tracks their visits on autopilot. After a custom visit duration, Bloom can automate a loyalty offer and send it directly to customers based on their customer profile contact information.


6. More Catering Orders

According to one study by Modern Restaurant Association, catering sales make up 44% of revenue, on average. $1 of catering labor equates to just 5 cents of capital investment, making catering ROI an essential focus for many restaurants. Thanks to mobile catering orders and email marketing, the service industry can continue to capitalize on these opportunities despite the pandemic.


7. Efficient Business Operations

Mobile orders create more efficiency in a variety of ways. 

  • Orders made online bring in more customers in less time than processing transactions on-site.
  • Online orders improve customer satisfaction and reduce errors and wasted products.
  • Thanks to mobile ordering online, it's easier than ever to acquire customer data to increase their loyalty.

mobile technology for coffee shops

8. Valuable Insights

When brands understand how often customers visit a location, where they are, and what they purchase, they can follow up with targeted campaigns. Emails and SMS marketing increase customer engagement and improve loyalty. Almost 75% of email marketers optimize email for mobile devices, and many focus on subscriber personalization. 

Mobile technology allows location-based companies to connect and engage with customers through a simple tap on their smartphones.

WiFi technology allows restaurants and retail companies to collect customer data with a WiFi captive portal effortlessly. Mobile campaigns benefit businesses and their customers. Plus, by collecting customer demographic data, the information about where they live, their ages, and gender, organizations can learn about the people who will most likely want to buy certain items. 

WiFi technology is the best way to acquire data on a large customer base. This technology allows brands to create highly effective marketing campaigns to help increase customer spend and frequency.


9. Gamification

Shikatani Lacroix defines gamification as the application of gaming mechanics (such as points, goals, and rewards) to business elements.

By using gamification, Domino's increased sales revenue by 30%. Ford managed to do the same with its strategy (their customers bought over $8 million in vehicles). Badgeville & Kendall-Jackson were able to use gamification to increase customer engagement by around 65%.

"I think it means there are different ways to accomplish the same objective," says Schlotsky's CMO Mark Mears. "While the free sandwich offer might appeal to some, the game appeals to others. "It's a chance to diversify our approach so it doesn't get stale. We always want to be sure that we are relevant to our guests."


10. Inventory Management

Mobile inventory management systems can help restaurants stay fully-stocked. According to the National Restaurant Association State of the Industry Report 2019, consumers said they would like to see technology focus on customer service improvements. The report also stated that 37% of restaurant operators think that customer orders are the most critical area for technological development.


11. Online Subscriptions

Mobile subscriptions are the latest trend to hit the restaurant industry. Coffee shops are capitalizing on subscriptions to send recipe ingredients, including, of course, coffee. Restaurants like Panera are jumping on board with free subscriptions for unlimited coffee.

Panera’s chief brand and concept officer, Eduardo Luz, says that "we hypothesize that recurring revenue based on subscription makes a lot of sense. I believe part of our future will involve recurring revenue or subscription-based revenue, which is new to the restaurant world.”

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We want to hear from you! How has mobile technology helped your business? Let us know in the comments below.

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