With smartphones getting smarter, bigger, and speedier all the time, concurrent advances in mobile technology are presenting restaurants the opportunity to make their business more efficient.
So far, mobile applications have been used primarily as a source of information and feedback. But now there is an increased integration between different restaurant offerings with mobile platforms in the areas like customer loyalty, placing orders and making payments and also promotional activities etc. For instance, Chaayos, a restaurant serving tea, uses the popular web chat platform, ‘Whatsapp’ to take orders and customer feedback thereby making the process simpler and less intrusive for the customer. And the trend is bringing the customers closer to the restaurants.
Speaking on the trend, Vivek Kapoor, Managing Partner, Dineout shares, “We at Dineout have seen significant increase in our ordering numbers since we launched our App on IOS and Android. We are getting almost 30 percent traffic through our mobile channels only.”
What has prompted the trend?
Research says many restaurants and the online food ordering and table reservations websites are moving towards the platform called Electronic Reservation Book (ERB) and are integrating Point of Sale (POS) and Androids in their businesses.
Even few technology investments are no longer limited to just backend operational initiatives or POS systems. Restaurants are turning to technology investments that directly improve guest experience. Also online orders and reservation platforms are partnering with restaurants on ERB.
According to a recent international study by Technomic on ‘consumers facing technology’, consumers use integrated mobile technology into their dining experience especially if it speeds up the process of getting their meal or paying their bill.
Restaurants using such technologies
Hotels like Peninsula Grand, Mumbai is using ‘virtual menu’, an advance tech-menu which is available on the restaurant website and can be viewed on tablets, palmtops, smart phones from where the diners can have an access to the menu offered by the restaurant.”
On the other hand, Lite Bite Foods are implementing Airline Control Programme (ACP) in their company to streamline the entire sourcing, selling and indenting.
Pizza Corner, the pizza chain in India has recently introduced mobile app ‘Today’ through which customers can order Pizza on just a single click. The user-friendly application helps customer access single detail information. The application is currently available to all Android users and will soon be available on the IOS platform.
Who are the solution providers?
With growing demand of such apps, companies like Blynk and MyPref in India have created apps to find and order food by using mobile apps being downloaded free.
MyPref has introduced a new smartphone app allowing foodies to search and locate specific food items and the restaurants. MyPref makes the guesswork out of a specific menu by providing reviews for each dish. The app is available on Android and iOS smartphones and its download is free.
Speaking on the cost required to create and maintain a mobile food app, Sunny Goenka, Co-Founder, Blynk, says, “It costs almost Rs 3000- 5000 per month to create and maintain an app. We have developed a platform which lets us create branded customised app for restaurants within few days. The apps have features required specifically by the restaurants like home delivery, digital/virtual menus, social media interaction and much more.”
Even QSR chains like Dominos, Pizza Corner, Starbucks, McDonalds, and Dunkin’ Donuts have also created their own mobile app to make the online food business much simpler and easier.
Changing the payment gateway
There are now numerous POS platforms that leverage the iPhone and other mobile devices, including Android-powered smartphones and tablet computers like the iPad, so that restaurants can process payments in the field with a credit-card reader. The readers either attach to mobile devices of the operator’s choice or accept payment through mobile applications like Google Wallet.
Atchayam Foodbox, a Chennai based automated restaurant is also using mobile phones applications to make the payment gateway easier. The diners can pay through credit or debit card by switching to the POS platforms on their iPhone and smartphone devices.
Eric Ho, Founder, Yo Yo Noodles, says, “Mobile technology is definitely becoming increasingly popular. The ability to be able to place orders from a phone app is great. I feel that within 2-3 years, we will start to see this market grow more than ever before, now we are still in early stages and people are still in the stage of familiarising with the whole concept.”