Harnessing Restaurant Apps to Boost Basket Size and Loyalty

In today’s competitive restaurant landscape, having a branded app can be a game-changer for restaurants. While all restaurants have a menu, not all have taken the leap to develop their own app. However, for those who haven’t, it’s time to consider it a top priority.

If or when you do have an app, optimizing it goes beyond simply repeating the in-store menu experience on your guests’ phones.

Utilize Your App to Increase Basket Size

Is having a branded app worth the effort? If you want to increase basket size, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Revenue Management Solutions COO Mark Kuperman says consumers tend to spend more and order more often using a restaurant’s branded app. “It’s not uncommon for checks ordered through the app to be 15–25% higher than in-store or drive-thru checks,” he says.

One of the top reasons customers prefer using apps is so they can browse the menu at their own pace and easily customize orders, according to RMS’ Dining in the Digital Age Study.

On the other hand, brands can personalize the app user experience to generate loyalty, such as by offering loyalty points or special in-app offers.

Effective Strategies to Optimize Your Restaurant App

RMS’ Dining in the Digital Age Study explored a range of important features for consumers when using a branded restaurant app. The top three were app-exclusive deals, loyalty-based incentives, and customization. This trio of benefits can and should be intertwined in your app. Here’s how.

Enhance Engagement Through Data and Personalization

The prices your customers see on the app should match those in the restaurant, but you can experiment with special offers. Offering in-app-only or app-exclusive deals not only encourages app downloads but also fosters customer loyalty over time.

Another value-add of a branded restaurant app is access to valuable customer data. The stream of insights gathered from your app lets you test targeted offers and in-app menus and refine based on your customer’s specific purchase patterns and preferences.

Menu Engineering Tips for Improved User Experience

As you design your in-app menu, be mindful of how consumers digest menus. An RMS eye-tracking study discovered that when viewing a menu on a mobile device, participants looked at an average of 18 items and added selections to their cart within 40 seconds, compared to 57 items in 80 seconds on a desktop website.

Mental task timing to checkout process by device.

RMS Chief Brand Officer Jana Zschieschang advises making your app experience as frictionless as possible to help customers place their orders quickly. “Ensure that your most profitable items are displayed up front to align with the consumer’s exploration and selection phase.”

One of the most strategic menu engineering differences? Zschieschang points out that operators can make certain parts of the menu (like value items or labor-intensive items) less accessible to guide app users to more profitable or easy-to-assemble items.

Maximize Profits with Additional App Benefits

Beyond enhancing the ordering experience, restaurant apps offer various advantages:

  • Self-service: Compensates for lean staffing without sacrificing customer experience.
  • Dynamic offers: Utilize push notifications to deliver timely discounts and promotions, encouraging spontaneous purchases and boosting foot traffic during off-peak hours.
  • Customized promotions: Leverage geo-location data to deliver personalized offers based on the customer’s proximity to your restaurant.
  • Upselling opportunities: “Would you like to make it a meal or add a beverage to your order?” always gets asked when the customer interacts with your app, regardless of in-store challenges like lack of staff training or a rush of traffic.

Drive Revenue Growth With a Strategically Designed Menu

As the restaurant industry continues to evolve, now’s the time to maximize every available opportunity to drive check. Over our 30-year history, RMS’ menu design strategies have increased margins by an average of up to 2% without having to take any price.

Whether optimizing your branded app menu, gaining complete visibility into your competitors’ pricing strategies, or using your POS data to drive frequency and increase average spend, RMS is here to help.

Ready to take your business to the next level? Contact us today to schedule a demo and discover how RMS can empower your success.

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