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To succeed in today’s crowded QSR market, mobile applications can’t just be sufficient, they must be superior.

How to design a mobile app for seamless quick service experiences

Centralize development to ensure seamless integration

In a world where there are more smartphones than people, it’s hard to deny the immense business value of mobile applications. These apps are especially pivotal for quick service restaurants. It’s estimated that online orders account for 40% of total sales and almost 60% of these online orders are made on smartphones.

Although the boom in mobile app sales may have started out of necessity during the pandemic, it’s clear that QSR consumers continue to enjoy the ease of remote ordering. Two-thirds of customers prefer placing digital orders with restaurants rather than third-party apps. Given that the QSR industry is on a growth trajectory and expected to reach $603.3 billion by 2030, experts agree that it is imperative for QSR enterprises to continue prioritizing technology offerings that enhance consumer satisfaction and improve loyalty.

Most QSR leaders would not argue with that advice, and many probably assume their mobile apps are sufficient. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, even for some of the world’s most recognizable chains. To succeed in today’s crowded QSR market, mobile applications can’t just be sufficient, they must be superior.

Common design pitfalls

QSR product and development teams must fill a tall order — creating seamless yet personalized experiences for millions of consumers around the world who speak different languages and have access to different menus and offerings. Designing such an app is fundamentally challenging, but it becomes even more so when we account for the array of technological and organizational hurdles.

Every year, if not more often, smartphone companies release new operating systems that add different system calls. This rapid introduction of different features and best practices forces product owners and developers to incur technical debt through no fault of their own.

Then there is the issue of “self-inflicted” technical debt. Companies often create app code bases and replicate copies for a variety of markets to then build their own siloed code bases and deploy their apps. This is extremely problematic from a global product development standpoint as it means that regional teams across the globe have control of their own code base with no oversight. This also makes it very challenging to onboard new global features and activate them locally on these disparate apps. Similarly, this siloed design approach leads to the inevitable introduction of divergent code issues and design roadblocks. For instance, different developers in markets around the world may fix the same bug in completely different ways, resulting in duplicated efforts.

Two-pronged approach

Multinational QSRs can only create truly universal mobile apps if they restructure their governance models to prioritize people and processes.


This two-pronged approach begins by flipping traditional design governance models on their heads by establishing a global product development team that is empowered to manage app teams and initiatives across markets. In the past, most QSR product strategies were dictated by market teams and franchisees, but that has only led to poor design, disjointed workflows, and even disgruntled customers. Now, market teams must be trained to become global citizens and partner with global counterparts to operate under more regimented controls. By breaking down organizational silos, everyone can benefit from faster activations and remediations.


Once the global and market teams align, they can begin to tackle the second strategic pillar — technical process. This will involve performing a “lift-and-shift” of code by tooling, consolidating, and auditing market by market to solve for issues like divergent code. There must be no copies of code; only a single code base to which all regional codes can funnel back to.

By resisting the urge to have market-specific code bases, QSRs can facilitate various activations across geographies while allowing global product teams to determine features and configuration options. This will then enable QSRs to dark launch features and configure over air to address activation requirements in certain markets.

QSR patrons are hungry for change

World-class mobile applications are table stakes for international QSR brands. Customers expect eye-catching design, but beyond form, they expect function. Patrons need to order food, receive real-time updates, access loyalty program offers, and myriad other features. And while the clientele in different regions may speak different languages and have access to different menu items and offers, they all expect a seamless mobile experience.

Most QSRs are not delivering a universally engaging mobile experience because they have not solved the organizational and technological issues impacting their app design and strategies. With millions of dollars on the table, business and product leaders must restructure their governance model and create seamless synergies within their own enterprises if they ever hope to create seamless mobile experiences for their consumers.

Dave_Murdoch_Headshot.jpegDave Murdoch is a Platform Architect at Capgemini Americas. As a polyglot full-stack architect with a passion for innovation and the cutting edge, he thrives on crafting elegant yet simple solutions to complex technical challenges across web, mobile, and backend domains. He combines his expertise with a commitment to quality standards and best practices to ensure every project achieves excellence.

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