Oct. 14, 2016

By Amir Ghodrati/App Annie Director of Market Insights

In a mobile-driven world, brands and companies have found it vital to incorporate apps into their business strategies to reach their consumers and deliver a complete customer experience. And, the growing popularity of QSRs in the overall app economy is largely driven by consumers' increasingly urgent "need-it-now" mentality. 

QSR apps have successfully topped the popularity charts in the overall app economy because of their simple, customer-centric features, not to mention the fact that the end product rewards users with delicious food. In this way, the multitude of apps delivered by QSR brands are setting the pace for catering to users' needs. But more than that, the QSR market has shown it is mastering the app economy and, in that way, these businesses are becoming models for others entering the wide world of selling through apps. 

Love at first sight … and bite
QSR apps have one chance to make a good first impression. Successful ones — like those for Taco Bell or Wendy's — make the initial user experience simple, inviting and helpful. For instance, often these apps offer tours or tutorials for new users to learn the ropes. 

This is key because adding a clear communication value proposition, while cutting the number of steps in the registration process helps create a vibrant, easy-to-use onboarding process and that's critical to welcoming the customer to the app's usage. Efficient, enjoyable initial experiences equate to more time spent with the app at the start and an increased likelihood of return and regular usage. 

Next, a fluid navigation interface promotes the likelihood that users will provide the kind of information brands seek through apps, along with better usage of key app features. Integrating device hardware, like sensors, and conventions, like swiping, enhance the user's ability to easily and instinctually scroll through menus. 

Feeding the visual appetite
QSR apps are also leading the way in the key area of simple, usable product display through their menu features. Consumers want to peruse a well-organized menu without much effort. QSR apps that focus on organizing menus into starters, entrees, sides and desserts excel. Further, QSR apps are leading the way in using alerts to highlight new and featured menu items, as well as using enticing photos and reviews to drive home their food's visual and mass appeal.  

Apps win new customers through first-rate product display which explains why successful QSRs invest in great photography to strengthen the visual appeal of their brand's offerings. In fact, the inclusion of great photos aside menu item listings spikes the potential for both more successful and costly purchases because strong visual appeal and branding are proven ways to promote higher ticket totals, as well as greater customer reliance on a brand.  

Loyalty, convenience and full bellies
QSRs are learning the value of loyalty programs that let users acquire points toward free products and other rewards.Then, by pairing these programs with customer personalization and easy payment options. QSR  brands are building longlasting customer relationships.

Domino's Pizza, for example, allows users to create a profile where orders can be saved under favorites. This increases the convenience factor significantly by giving customers an ultra-easy way to repeatedly order their "go-to" meals.  

When those features are paired with app personalization, apps gain popularity based on their ease of use, reward potential and functionality. But personalization can also lead to benefits for app users enrolled in rewards and payment programs. For instance, Starbucks' app not only eases payment, but also accrues points with purchases that ultimately lead to free menu items. 

So, just as a great chef can prepare to each diner's specific preferences, a QSR app that knows users' likes and dislikes can ultimately lead users to more and better app features.  

The recipe for enhancing your customer's journey
But this is just the beginning of a long and fruitful road for QSR apps. In the future, this food service sector will lead the way in app innovation as these brands expand their reach within the app industry. For example, social networks and messaging apps will help socialize these apps to include friends and followers. 

Messaging app partnerships, for instance, can prompt users to recommend the app to friends and followers and "gift" QSR products to their pals and family members. In this way, QSR customers actually get personally involved in the product innovation process. 

So QSRs are ahead of the game when it comes to their overall use of apps. But to remain so, quick-service restaurants must stay updated on new platforms, like wearables, TVs, cars, virtual reality and digital assistants, like Siri and Echo. 

As these kind of platforms gain wider use, they, too, will broaden the reach of QSR apps and provide enhanced features and functions. As long as mobile users stay hungry then, QSR apps will keep them happy. 


Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Equipment & Supplies, Hot Products, Mobile Payments, Systems / Technology


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