Mobile Order Ahead Is King



I remember the first time a friend introduced me to Starbucks mobile ordering in 2016. My initial reaction was amazement that our cold brews were ready with her name stickered to them as soon as we walked into Starbucks. Why hadn’t we started doing this sooner?


The benefits of mobile ordering were clear––easy customization options and more seamless service. An early adopter of mobile order ahead, Starbucks was years ahead of a trend that would boom come the Covid-19 pandemic. As we’re perched at the beginning of 2022, let’s delve into why mobile order ahead has become king and glance towards the future of apps’ role in mobile ordering.


The Pandemic Problem


In March of 2020, the food industry (like so many others) suffered a major hit. Quick service restaurants (QSRs) and dine-in restaurants alike, hastily launched curbside pickup programs to meet consumer demands.


There were major holes in initial curbside pickup programs between long wait times and overstressed staff. One principal struggle was timing. Workers could not predict when a customer would arrive, leading to frustration on both ends.


Right Place Right Time


The solution to bettering curbside pickup programs lay in improving and expanding the function of companies’ apps. By utilizing location services, QSRs could see where their customers were in relation to the restaurant and have the food ready at the appropriate time.

This not only increased efficiency but led to an overall more hassle-free and less infuriating process for QSR workers and consumers. Companies were even able to leverage timing data to figure out which establishments might need better training.


Unbeatable Customization


Even pre-pandemic, one major reason consumers were turning to mobile ordering was that it was easier to customize orders via app rather than fumbling through milk substitutions and condiment additions at the counter. Completing orders in-app reduces human error and miscommunication.

For better or for worse, a growing number of Gen Z-ers and Millennials prefer to avoid potentially uncomfortable interactions at service counters. Mobile order ahead offers a safe option for the socially anxious.


Loyalty and Rewards


Like with any great app, QSR apps should offer excellent rewards options. Gone are the days of yogurt shop punch cards. Apps offer a great opportunity to reward loyalty. Companies can also leverage push notifications of earnings and promotions to encourage more store visits.

Dunkin’s DDPerks program boasts 7 million users, offering free drinks for accumulated points. Those in the know look forward to “free coffee Wednesday.” By implementing a unique recurring reward, Dunkin creates hype and encourages app downloads.


Where Are We Now?


Mobile order ahead rates for food chains have more than tripled since the start of the pandemic––and for good reason. There’s a lot for customers to love about an app that offers mobile order ahead including:

• Reduced time spent waiting

Contact-free service

• The ability to pre-load payment and better utilize company rewards

• Better options for customization


Risen from 4% in 2016, mobile orders currently account for over a quarter of Starbucks transactions, an impressive number considering the ubiquity of Starbucks food and drink. Even for companies with less of a footprint than Starbucks, an app with a great mobile order ahead option is an undeniable necessity.


With a majority of customers reporting having chosen to patronize a food establishment due to their order ahead option, QSR’s can’t afford to have no app ordering option––or an unreliable one.


BILDIT’s goal is to make fantastic apps accessible for companies both big and small. Want to learn more? Request a demo here.


[image by Nick Hillier]

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