Successfully rolling out a global restaurant app: four key considerations for QSR executives
In the beginning, global Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) brands invested huge amounts of capital to ensure their products were consistent all around the world. To this day, their brands are built on this consistency. When franchised restaurants started opening at an astonishing rate, it was largely thanks to the cookie cutter consistency of their store formats and the cost efficiencies that the global scale brings.
Today. the international footprint of QSR giants is more settled, they’re now focused on consumer-driven growth. Store expansion has slowed, so mobile is being used to create experiences that get customers returning more often and spending more on each visit. However, as QSR brands invest more in mobile, it’s becoming clear that most have completely forgotten what made them successful in the first place - a reliable and predictable experience internationally.
The mobile experience
Smartphone and mobile app orders will make up 11% of all QSR sales by 2020 according to Business Insider Intelligence, and 48% of restaurants plan to add mobile tech in the future. What’s surprising is that while one or two category leaders are rolling out a global mobile experience, most well-known brands are still seemingly stuck, incrementally iterating in a single market.
Brands that are leading in the customer experience stakes, have globally scalable mobile solutions that drive faster and efficient growth. When they roll out in other countries, their competitors can’t keep pace and as a result, lose share of wallet as customers quickly gravitate towards the better experience.
There are four types of ability global QSR executives should consider when deciding on the kind of mobile experience they want their worldwide customers to have.
Capability lies at the heart of a successful global mobile experience. Customers should get features that deliver the same value and convenience wherever they are in the world. Dunkin Donuts spans 30 countries yet earning loyalty points and skipping the queue with mobile ordering, is available only in a few markets and even then, the experience between those countries differs wildly. For a global brand this seems rather incongruous.
It doesn’t make sense for an international QSR brand to build different apps in every market. You end up paying more for a fragmented and inconsistent customer experience and the benefits you achieve in one market aren’t reflected in others.
Develop a single app, with a common experience and at a minimum, give all customers (wherever they are) the ability to:
- Save money with offers
- Earn rewards with loyalty programs
- Order ahead with mobile order and pay
International QSR brands that strive for global consistency still need to make allowance for local variations. Individual markets should be able to configure everything from currency, language and menu items, to how their customers redeem offers and earn loyalty points.
For example, if one market wants to increase kiosk orders during the busy lunch time, then let them configure the app to issue double loyalty points with kiosk orders at lunch time. The more configurable the app is, the more local markets can use it to drive their own specific objectives.
Configurability makes the app more useful to local marketers and franchisees, driving global adoption. For a fraction of the price of building their own app they can license the global app, which can be configured to their own local requirements without departing from the overall digital customer experience.
To create a truly global mobile experience for your customers, it is essential to ensure compatibility across markets. This means being able to handle different point-of-sale systems, different delivery methods, different kitchen display systems, and the variety of loyalty programs that’s resulted from the lack of a configurable global solution.
A lot of the markets you’re aiming to roll out to will have developed a local solution while the team at HQ were still thinking about a global solution. Some markets might already be able to scan codes on phones, others might not. Some might support NFC tap and others will already be going down the mobile payments route with Apple and Google.
To handle issues of compatibility, it is important to classify your markets in terms of their IT maturity: Crawl Walk Run is a popular scale. All markets should be allocated across this spectrum and you need a version of your app that works in each of those three classifications.
Typically, this means tweaking the experience depending on what market you are in, then building adaptors that support local requirements and enable a seamless migration to the global experience via a single app update. Once that market has been migrated there should be a clear glide path to Run, and of course the Run experience itself should continue to evolve for the benefit of customers and franchisees.
Finally, once your global solution has the capability, configurability and compatibility to make it a run-away success in markets all over the world, you’ll want to make sure it can handle millions of digital customers using it simultaneously.
This is about modern app architecture and taking advantage of everything that cloud technology offers today.
By building a multi-tenant solution it is possible to add unlimited markets to a single instance, driving huge economies of scale so even relatively small markets can afford the same best in class experience as larger markets.
QSRs that want to grow guest count and average check on a per store basis need to enable a world class digital experience at as many stores in as many markets as possible.
The Plexure platform currently supports more than 60 million QSR customers and more than 6,000 restaurants in more than 35 countries. One of our customers is adding 2 new countries a month to its global app, which runs on Plexure to ensure customers and franchisees benefit from a consistent, world class purchase experience wherever they are.