Next-Gen QSR Bets Big on Mobile Quality

Speed and convenience are central to every action consumers make. This is no secret, as organizations continually tweak and improve their user experiences to introduce new efficiencies for both their customers and themselves. In the process, customers not only expect these innovations to become commonplace, but that digital quality continues to rise across the board.

For quick-service restaurants (QSRs), mobile order-ahead does just that – increase order volumes and minimize lines. It effectively transforms how QSRs operate and cater to their customers. What’s next, though, could overhaul the QSR model for good.

From Fast Food to Faster Food

The majority of QSRs – whether small, medium, or large (not super-sized) – already embrace mobile order-ahead apps, and customers respond to them. Between 2016 and 2018, the volume of orders placed through mobile apps grew by 130 percent, according to PYMNTS’ Mobile Order-Ahead Tracker.

Customers are not only ordering more out of convenience, but out of experience quality. According to PYMNTS’ Restaurant Readiness Index, ordering via QSR apps is the most favorable method for placing an order, receiving a 92% satisfaction rate by customers – noticeably higher than ordering in-store with an employee (82%). So how can QSRs leverage their current mobile success into even better experiences?

Doubling Down on Omnichannel

Mobile apps have come a long way in improving the ordering process, but that’s still only a piece of the end-to-end experience. Every order still needs to be fulfilled, and there are several options for customers to do so.

EMARKETER: Which food delivery option are you most likely to select?

  1. On-site food pickup through branded app (57.7%)
  2. Delivery through branded app (51.5%)
  3. Delivery through third-party app (33.5%)
  4. On-site food pickup through third-party app (31.2%)

Despite the convenience of QSR delivery, in-store pickup still reigns supreme – especially in the busier, more densely populated cities. Understanding this on-the-go mindset held by customers, Starbucks is preparing to introduce its first pick-up-only store in Manhattan this fall. So what does this mean for Starbucks and the QSR industry as a whole?


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The Mobile Quality Bar is Raised

This new pick-up-only concept is both exciting and daunting. On the one hand, stores can be smaller and staff can focus exclusively on servicing orders. On the other hand, there is no room for error when it comes to the mobile experience. Any hiccup in functionality, payment processing, or order fulfillment could cripple the stores and severely damage the brand loyalty. The question you have to answer is, “How confident am I in the quality of my mobile experience?”

Ultimately, the answer is a reflection of your approach to testing. Omnichannel experiences introduce a number of challenges, all of which are further magnified in this case by the fact that there is no on-site staff to fall back on in the event of an issue. Only by testing these scenarios in real-world situations can you truly prepare yourself for every possible scenario. That is what will raise your quality bar to the necessary level.

While the pick-up-only concept demands perfection, existing QSR experiences require roughly the same. In today’s digital landscape, this level of quality is table stakes. If more organizations strive for Starbucks-level digital quality, this concept may well be the future of QSR.

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Jay Selig
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