Last month, McDonald's began testing its long-awaited U.S. mobile ordering app after almost a year in development. The testing will go on for a few more months before the app hits the public beta. Why so much testing?
Well, Starbucks ran into various service hiccups when they launched their app a few years ago. App orders poured in faster than they could be processed, forming backlogs that drove away annoyed walk-in patrons.
Owing to growing competition and the fear of losing its "hip" tag, Starbucks pushed the mobile app development and rushed the half-baked app through the testing phase.
The rest is an important chapter in the history of restaurant mobility solutions that no restaurant coming with a mobile app will ever dare to ignore.
Many restaurants see mobile as a way to win back customers. Some see it as a way to build an edge over their competitors, but the project carries risks, far more than most restauranteurs can fathom.
What are those risks? How do we mitigate them? I have listed five tricks.
1. Scale Gradually
Don't make your app available to everyone at once. Rather, make it available to a closed group of people you believe the app server can handle. If everything goes as per the plan, bring more closed groups into the testing circle. If you're launching the app countrywide, create such groups in every state.
When you want to expand the testing circle, open the circle to new invitees. This will test your app for inconsistencies and give you an idea of how far you must scale up your app server to cater to new app users.
Once you start receiving enough good news and are confident enough, launch your app to public on the respective app stores.
2. Staff Training
The customer management system your restaurant staff is familiar with may need updating to absorb the changes brought in by the new mobile app. This may include a major overhaul of the entire CMS or the addition of minor elements. The CMS may be integrated with newer tools to make way for app compatibility.
The POS systems may need an upgrade, too. Whatever is the case, you must train your staff to those changes. This may incur an additional cost, but believe me, ROI is almost certain.
3. Additional IT Infrastructure
If you're expecting a huge spike in the number of app orders owing to an irresistible app-only offer, keep additional IT infrastructure in place in case a temporary hike in traffic overburdens your current IT capacity and you must add additional capacity to keep up with the traffic. The collapse of the app server at the peak of an exciting offer is the last thing your customers expect.
4. Map Integration
Map integration is fundamental to restaurant mobility solutions if you expect your delivery drivers to deliver orders on time. Finding the way to Cecilia Chapman's place at 711-2880 Nulla St., Mankato takes far more time than reading the street address takes. Delivery drivers you hire are perhaps well acquainted with the city, but you, certainly, can't expect them to know where Mrs. Chapman lives or every other place in Mankato.
Asking for directions from a passerby leaves too much to chance. "Take a left turn after 15 yards" is hard for an average human to decipher.
5. Track Order Status
Epic Delivery, for example, lets a person track his food order on a map. When Sam orders his favorite burger from the fast food joint app installed on his mobile, he expects to know more than the delivery time, but also whether his food is cooked, how far on a map his food is from his home, and when it will reach him.
The more Sam knows about the status of his order, the more unlikely he will be to cancel the order or call the restaurant for the order's status. This saves the time of both the customer and restaurant staff.
If you're a restaurant owner, you must invest in one of the restaurant mobility solutions in the market to stay relevant to changing times.