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Why Restaurants Are Going Digital
Why Restaurants Are Going Digital

By Ira Brodsky
June 5, 2014 10:03AM

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The biggest growth is going to come in mobile payments. Today, restaurants are processing about $23 billion in mobile payments, but mostly in the form of gift cards that can be purchased and reloaded online. But who wants to carry around multiple gift cards, loyalty cards, and credit cards, when there's a better solution?

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The biggest growth is going to come in mobile payments. Today, restaurants are processing about $23 billion in mobile payments, but mostly in the form of gift cards that can be purchased and reloaded online. But who wants to carry around multiple gift cards, loyalty cards, and credit cards? Consumers will consolidate these functions in their smart devices as soon as someone develops a solution that is private, secure, easy to use, and universally accepted. Starbucks is leading the pack here, reporting that mobile payments now account for 10% of its transactions.

The Business of Being Social

Today, a good website is as essential to a restaurant as its cutlery. Yet restaurant websites are all over the map in terms of usability, information content, and overall quality. One key lesson is that restaurants should use responsive web designs that automatically adjust to devices with different size screens.

Social media is proving to be a powerful channel for interactive advertising and market research. Big chains such as Starbucks and McDonald’s have more than 30 million “likes” each on Facebook. But Applebee’s, with just 5.6 million “likes,” has generally done a better job keeping customers engaged. Most restaurant chains could use social media to drive sales with a little more planning and the right management tools.

Restaurant chains’ use of mobile apps leaves even more room for improvement. Many big chains don’t yet offer mobile apps. Others offer iPhone and Android apps that merely duplicate information and features found on their websites, and users complain that the apps either crash, don’t work properly, or lack important information. A bad mobile app is like a bad meal: Restaurant chains must do a better job designing mobile apps with unique features, testing them thoroughly, and retesting them to ensure that they work with new devices and OS versions.

Retailers by Order of Online Ratings

The twelve most popular restaurant-chain mobile apps, based on number of customer ratings in the iTunes and Google Play stores as of January 2014, were as follows:

1. Dominos 388,015
2. Pizza Hut 173,259
3. Starbucks 94,395
4. Chipotle Mexican 35,277
5. Papa John's Pizza 8,912
6. Hardee's 4,682
7. Dunkin Donuts 4,596
8. Culver's 2,127
9. TGI Friday's 2,091
10. In-N-Out Burger 1,959
11. 7-Eleven 1,878
12. Five Guys Burgers & Fries 1,865

A Side of Tablet, Please

The most disruptive innovation could be tableside tablets. Chili's and Applebee's are deploying tablets to all of their tables for ordering select items (appetizers, drink refills, and desserts), paying (without waiting for a restaurant employee to bring the check and pickup/return a credit card), and playing games (for a small fee). Pizza Hut is even testing an "interactive table" that behaves like a large tablet and can be used to order and to pay. These devices may take some getting used to, but once customers experience paying at the table they are unlikely to go back to the old method. (continued...)

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Tell Us What You Think


Rohit Mudgal:

Posted: 2014-06-07 @ 5:25am PT
I would like to share my views on the first line of this article. Well, Technology is growing very fast and now it is possible to download a physical product (dinner also) on our table by using our smartphone. We are working on it for the last 3 years and will launch it very soon.

Craig W:

Posted: 2014-06-06 @ 8:26am PT
Why Restaurants Are Going Digital? The article was nice but the simple answer is the cost of labor. Customers will win and employees will lose. The minimum wage momentum is not going away and businesses are responding as they usually do. They can't raise prices to cover increased so they move towards tech. is the market and technology leader in Software-as-a-Service. Its award-winning CRM solution helps 82,400 customers worldwide manage and share business information over the Internet. Experience CRM success. Click here for a FREE 30-day trial.

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