Mobile Payment Apps Proving Successful in Offsetting the Casual Dining Recession

Published on : Friday, December 2, 2016

download-1Are you ready for new customers in 2017? Restauranteurs in the fast-casual segment sure are. After a decade of fighting traffic declines, full-service casual-dining chains are discovering mobile payment apps to be the holy grail they have been searching for.

Rather than investing heavily in new menu items or giving the facility a complete facelift to get people through the doors, how about offering order-ahead and/or delivery service transacted through a mobile payment app instead. Whether customers drive up to pick up, or you deliver the food to them, either way, sales are going to rise. As long as the service is quick and orders are correct, those customers will come back again and again.

Consider this: Nation’s Restaurant News recently reported that Olive Garden is getting 11 percent of its sales from takeout orders, up 50 percent over the last three years; Bob Evans’ take-out same-store sales are up by 25.2 percent; Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. take-out is now 16 percent of sales at company-owned restaurants, and the company is now looking at delivery. This is proof that order-ahead and delivery services are impacting sales in a good way. While some of the largest brands in casual dining continue to struggle, Olive Garden’s same‐restaurant sales increased 3.1 percent throughout 2016, and The Cheesecake Factory has experienced 27 consecutive quarters of positive comparable sales (FSR magazine). Both of these companies offer a mobile payment app facilitating experience-based dining.

During the Fast Casual Executive Summit in October, Elizabeth Friend, Euromonitor International’s senior food strategy analyst, said that restaurants must, “adapt to mobile commerce or die” . She said restaurants must “find a way to make your app make your customers happy.”

In “Fast Casual Summit: 5 lessons learned from m-commerce innovators,” Christi Christian, marketing director at Urbane Cafe, said one of the quickest ways to delight customers is by helping them save time. The mobile payment app used by Urbane Café does just that; it reduces time spent waiting in line and streamlines order retrieval. Aaron Noveshen, founder and CEO of Starbird and the Culinary Edge, agreed, saying: “Again, it’s all about the customer. Think about the customer first and what makes them whole, happy and excited. Use technology to help with that.”

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