Guide to Building a Killer Restaurant Mobile App
Technology is quickly becoming one of the most significant forces in creating success for a restaurant. Consumers are demanding convenience more than they ever have in the past. They want the convenience of ordering food from the comfort of their home and receiving it at their doorstep, or through carryout. And, they want to do this all on their smartphone. A restaurant mobile app provides better customer experience and continuous interaction with your diners.
Have you launched your restaurant mobile app? If not, and if you’re new to restaurant mobile app research, it’s surprisingly more straightforward than you’d think to get one launched (you could even do it yourself!). We’ll go through the cost of developing a restaurant mobile app, what your app should include, and restaurants you can use as an inspiration for designing a killer mobile app.
Restaurant Mobile App Cost
A Statista survey shows that “the majority of diners use restaurant mobile apps to view menus and pricing (55%), search for deals (38.2%), order food online (30%), and make reservations (23.8%).” If you don’t already have a mobile app, you’re probably wondering how much it will cost you and what your options are. Your best choice depends on your budget.
There are three options for developing an app for your restaurant:
- Freelance developer: About $50 to $80 per hour
- DIY app builder: $30 to $699 per month depending on the functionality
- Development firm: Could range from $5,000 to $50,000
To see how much your app idea could cost you can try a free app development cost calculator tool that gives you a personalized cost estimation for your new mobile app.
How to Build a Restaurant Mobile App
Choose a restaurant app builder such as AppInstitute. AppInstitute offers simple-to-use modules to build your mobile app. You’ll be walked through each step of the process and will need no coding experience.
You can also integrate loyalty programs, calendars, and booking programs, push notifications, etc. Depending on which package you get, you’ll also receive a custom domain, app analytics, reporting, email and live chat support, geo-location push messaging, scheduled push messaging, and more.
These are the steps you’ll go through to build your restaurant mobile app:
- Choose a template
- Design the app’s appearance and style it toward your brand
- Add content
What to Include in Your Restaurant Mobile App
You know some of the options available to build your app but what should your app include? Here’s a rundown of items you should consider including on your mobile app:
Color Scheme & Font
You should never overlook brand consistency across all mediums. Colors should be consistent with the color scheme used in your logo and throughout your restaurant. The font should be the same that you use in the menu.
App Home Page
The App home page is the first page that diners will see. Make it user-friendly and easy to navigate! This page should allow users to access relevant content within the app, such as the menu, mobile ordering page, and any other pages that help maximize the user experience.
This is a convenient way to display what you offer. You can also quickly alert diners of changes made to your menu via push notifications.
Allows diners to customize dishes based on preferences. A great example of this would be the Panera app. With their mobile apps customize button, you can add and remove ingredients from your meal. You can also pick from multiple side options and add special instructions for the kitchen.
Mobile ordering allows consumers to order their food directly from the app. Take a look at Jimmy John’s app, for example. The homepage is geared directly towards mobile ordering. There are two buttons for “delivery” or “pickup.” After selecting your option, you are directed straight to the menu where you can choose the item you’d like, customize it, and add any sides.
Managing mobile orders is most easily handled through restaurant technology. It would likely flow like this: A customer places a mobile order, it goes from your digital ordering partner directly to your POS. The POS will process the transaction and then pass the order information along to the kitchen display system, alerting staff that there is a new order. As the kitchen staff prepares the meal, moving it from one station to the next, the KDS will send these real-time order status to the diner.
Integrating your loyalty program with your mobile app makes an easy one-stop-shop for checking points generated and incentives earned. Qdoba’s mobile app integrates with its loyalty program, allowing customers to quickly see how many points you’ve earned and what items you can get for free or at a discounted price.
Mobile Coupons & Discounts
Offer special coupons and discounts exclusive to app users. These deals incentivize consumers to download your app or dormant users to active. Many app building platforms have a tool that allows you to build mobile-only coupons or integrate an already existing coupon/discount program.
Chick-fil-A’s One membership program allows members to earn points on purchases (including online catering) to redeem rewards later. This membership includes ‘surprise’ rewards that sporadically issue a coupon for a free menu item or discount to the member’s local store.
Want to keep users in the loop about menu changes, updated hours of operation, available coupons, etc.? Use push notifications to keep users up to speed on what’s happening in your restaurant.
Social Media & Review Integrations
According to a recent study, 28% of the respondents said they check social sites for brand reviews. Make leaving a review and sharing images of meals easier by enabling users to write reviews and post pictures to social media straight from the app.
Leading Apps for Restaurants
There’s plenty of restaurant apps out there that are killin’ it. Domino’s and Papa John’s receive nearly half of their orders through mobile ordering. Starbucks’ mobile app accounted for 16% of its profits three years ago.
Here are a few more examples of awesome restaurant apps and why diners love them:
Buffalo Wild Wings
This app is loaded with ways to earn points to get free food. Earn 100 points just for signing up and completing your Blazin’ Rewards app profile.
It’s pretty simple – scan the barcode at every visit, and every fifth visit earns free food!
It’ll give you a quick peek at promos via their rotating weekly deals feature. You can also find a lot of buy-one-get-one-promos!
Get a free burger on your birthday, every 10thitem is free, and you’ll receive $20 towards your sixth visit!
Get to Building
Hopefully, this guide has made restaurant mobile app building feel more approachable, especially since you can build one yourself! Take time to map out the essential features to showcase on your app and then get started. Your diners will thank you, and you’re likely to see a boost in sales.
Have you launched your off-premise dining strategy? Compare the pros and cons of in-house vs. third parties in our restaurant delivery service article.
About the Author
Emily Elder was a Content & Social Media Specialist at QSR Automations. Emily was born and raised in Louisville but considers herself a die-hard University of Kentucky fan. For college, Emily attended Indiana University Southeast and obtained a degree in Communications with a track in Advertising. In her free time, Emily enjoys just about every water-related activity, but she is partial to kayaking and whitewater rafting.