Three restaurant chains said this week that they planned to launch ordering and pay-ahead options via mobile apps in a move designed to allow users to skip the line and deepen their engagement.
The moves also opens up a wealth of consumer data for restaurant chains looking to target marketing efforts more specifically to the consumers they are trying to reach.
Jamba Juice said Tuesday that a new mobile app will allow customers to order, pay ahead and skip the line. The app will be available in August at more than 200 locations in the first phase of a rollout that will include units in California, New York, Chicago and Hawaii.
Firehouse Subs said Monday that it will roll out mobile ordering tied to a loyalty program that will allow users to earn rewards and play games.
Papa Murphy’s Take ’N’ Bake Pizza said Monday that the Vancouver, Wash.-based chain plans to launch a mobile app before the end of the third quarter.
Jamba Inc., the Emeryville, Calif.-based parent of Jamba Juice, said its app is designed to meet the needs of time-constrained customers.
“The new order-ahead app allows us to compete effectively for the on-the-go consumer in the QSR space, which is experiencing a shift to mobile ordering as consumers are engaging with brands on different platforms at different stages of the path to purchase,” Julie Washington, Jamba chief marketing and innovation officer, said in a statement.
“Mobile has become a part of doing business that guests expect from Jamba, and the mobile app will provide additional data about app users and their purchase behavior, which will enable us to provide more targeted messaging and drive increased revenue,” she said.
At 900-unit Firehouse Subs, based in Jacksonville, Fla., a new app was rolled out nationwide last week after it was tested in key markets. The app was developed by Relevant Mobile and is available on both Android and iOS platforms.
“We have a passion for heartfelt service at Firehouse Subs and believe this app provides an even better and more convenient ordering experience to our guests, along with opportunities to earn rewards through the Firehouse Rewards loyalty program,” Matt Olsen, Firehouse Subs senior manager of digital marketing, said in a statement.
Users can also play games on the app, like the brand-specific “Blaze Hopper.”
At Papa Murphy’s, mobile efforts will be part of an overall e-commerce push.
In a call with analysts following its second-quarter earnings report, Ken Calwell, Papa Murphy’s CEO, said the app will be integrated with the chain’s online ordering platform, which is available in about 750 units and expected to be rolled out systemwide by the middle of 2016.
The app will “further accelerate consumer engagement with our brand and provide more opportunity to increase online transactions,” Calwell said Monday.
The e-commerce platform is also expected to generate customer information that will become a data foundation for digital marketing, he said.
“Precision marketing will enable us to target our customers with personalized digital marketing messages and offers, designed to drive current purchase behavior based on an individual’s history, which we believe will help us build awareness, as well as drive frequency of visits and expand guest check,” Calwell said. “While we’re still in the early stages of the digital strategy, we see incredible near and long-term value for both the company and our franchise system.”
No significant traffic yet
The announcements came as Starbucks Corp. continues to roll out a mobile app that allows users to order and pay ahead.
Currently available at 4,000 Starbucks locations, the app is expected to be available at the coffeehouse chain’s 7,400 company-operated U.S. locations before the holiday season this year. Officials said the result has been shorter lines, faster service and improved efficiency.
Early adopters of mobile apps have expressed some disappointment at consumer adoption rates. But as more chains add ordering and pay-ahead features to their apps, consumers may be more likely turn to their smartphones when hungry or thirsty.
BJ’s Restaurants Inc. was one of the first casual-dining chains to launch mobile ordering and pay-ahead options in an app launched last year.
Greg Trojan, president and CEO of the Huntington Beach, Calif.-based chain, said the app isn’t at the point where it’s driving significant traffic and volume yet. But he believes it will eventually.
“A lot of that is changing a mindset,” Trojan said. “People don’t really understand yet that they can order ahead and sit down in the restaurant. They understand takeout more easily, and our adoption rate is higher for carryout.”
Still, he added, “We love that others are starting to catch up in this regard. If people get used to it, they’ll start understanding [how it can work.]”