What’s The Secret To Seamless Mobile Ordering?

Read Time: 5 - 10 min

In 2012, $25 million was invested in mobile ordering companies. By 2014, it was $600 million -- and by some estimates, mobile ordering drew over $1.2 billion in investments in 2016. NBD Group reports a 16% increase in mobile ordering in 2016, accounting for 1.9 billion food service visits.

That’s a staggering rate of financial growth, and it’s met by a similar growth pattern in the number of mobile ordering apps and the download rates. Yum! Brands -- which owns KFC, Taco Bell, and more -- now has mobile ordering making up 46% of total U.S. delivery and carryout sales, increasing at a rate of about 3% per year. And as the National Restaurant Association has explained, mobile ordering is a huge driver of new business.

If you realize the importance, then, how do you create a more seamless mobile ordering experience for your customers, and who’s doing it well?

In-app messaging option.

This can be done via chatbot, obviously, but in-app messaging is crucial for the communication side of the order. There should be a confirmation template, a pick-up time template/screen, and any information on where to go. Mobile ordering without in-app messaging -- which we’ve all probably experienced from less digitally-inclined companies -- is one of the clunkiest customer experiences under the sun. As a customer, you usually have no idea who’s responsible for your order, if they even got it, the time frame, or where to head next. That approach loses business, so make sure your in-app messaging is on point.

You can’t talk about mobile ordering success stories without mentioning--wait for it--Domino’s. Their re-launched app is credited for their incredibly successful 4th quarter, and they’re not stopping there. The chain is dipping their toes into artificial intelligence via their app, which they recently began testing in Australia and New Zealand.


Saved information feature.

I had a string of Favor orders maybe two months ago that read like this: Chipotle, Chipotle, Chipotle, Chipotle. Clearly I was on a specific kick, but it made the ordering experience so much better that each time I could look up my past, alter it quickly in-app, and order again. We’re all busy people. This feature is essential.



Integration with maps or rideshare apps.

Typically this would take the form of Google/Apple Maps or Uber/Lyft, although it can vary in different markets. Glympse was a popular way to have users share their location in real-time, and they’re successfully raising money still. (Some believe they’ll eventually be acquired by Google.) Normally mobile ordering integration is a revenue share between the business owner (i.e. the restaurant) and the app/service owner.


Loyalty cards or rewards for frequent purchases.

 If someone is constantly using your mobile ordering app, it stands to reason that eventually they should get a free (or reduced) version of what you offer, be that coffee, a burrito, or anything else. Remember, though: you want to aim to be a loyalty company, as opposed to a company with a loyalty program. There is a difference. Loyalty companies understand the importance of customers to the ecosystem, so they design features and give rewards to prioritize customers; this drives lots of future app usage.



This started to get hot in 2016 with certain brands, causing us to write a love letter to marketers hoping they wouldn’t “f*ck up” the feature. If you’ve never heard of geo-push, basically you can message someone who walks near a location you’ve set, like your brick-and-mortar location, a popular landmark, or even a competitor’s store.  

Doing this to every random person you could potentially target will get old and turn off potential customers; as we noted, the same thing happened with banner ads, pop-up ads, and email capture boxes over time. Good geo-push products (cough cough) send messages to users in specific locations, and based on that location, anticipate the user’s needs. The San Francisco 49ers partnered with Amazon, letting attendees order last-minute tailgating supplies right to the stadium.


Pro tip: Blasting out messages to anyone passing by removes all context for personalization and true targeting. Don’t do that.

Any other success stories you’ve seen around creating a great mobile ordering experience?

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