And What You Can Learn From Them
We’ve come a long way from hearing cries of “Order Up!” floating across the smoky din of the classic American diner. And although the traditional and charming atmosphere of a classic diner experience is timeless, fast food today is more diverse, more efficient, and more technologically-enabled than ever before. Mobile devices are now indelible manifestations that connect immediate demand to the delivery and consumption of goods. Moving up the economic pyramid, this is allowing QSR businesses to transcend the transactional nature of interactions and offer features that support emotional equity and overarching loyalty.
Which apps get it right in this dynamic new environment? And which could stand to improve? Most offer a plethora of features, unique elements, and most importantly, a way to concretely transfer the value of their brand digitally. Here are five of the best QSR apps.
The fried chicken sandwich wars have never been hotter; KFC, McDonald's, Shake Shack, Sweetgreen, and Popeyes are all in the midst irresistible offerings. Chick-fil-A, though, is arguably the most relished brand in the space. That’s why their mobile app centers on familiar branding to give customers a transitional experience that closely straddles their in-store aesthetic. Mobile ordering allows simplified menu navigation and preferential pickup specification. And the app ties directly into their Chick-fil-A One™ tiered membership program. Customers can earn points in a variety of ways - such as by scanning QR codes, placing mobile orders, or paying directly through their loyalty account, with app points redeemable for a variety of food options.
Subway MyWay® Rewards
The Subway brand promise is centered around preparing quality sandwiches, fast. It makes sense that the MyWay® Rewards app is reflectively conducive to quick, elegant experiences, and a host of features that drive customers through the loyalty funnel. Using the app for purchases grants patrons 200 tokens for every $2 spent, with earnings tracked through a dynamic, user-friendly interface. And the app takes loyalty a step further by reaching into the realm of deeper personalization: members earn surprises on special events like birthdays and holidays, have the opportunity to earn exclusive deals, and can take advantage of currency neutrality by paying with convenient options like digital wallets.
COVID-19 has permanently altered the consumption landscape for QSRs. But the truth is, many of these changes were long in the making. The rise of delivery apps like UberEats made instantly satisfying cravings too irresistible of an option to pass up for many customers. One key aspect the Chipotle Rewards App handles well is understanding the importance of delivery as a consumption avenue, and building an experience around it within an engaging UX environment. The app allows customers to see delivery status across all stages — from preparation to final destination at the point of order — and even bridges social interactions by allowing for group and team orders. This is all on top of a straightforward rewards strategy that grants 10 points for each $1 spent, with earnings applicable towards a free meal.
The archetype of fast food, and the place where the tradition started. McDonald’s has been an innovator in the QSR space since its very inception. The question is, can the brand’s foray into the digital realm maintain this level of groundbreaking marketing evolution? Well, judging by its app, the answer may be…it remains to be seen.
The app itself is perfectly serviceable, rooted in functionality and efficient experiences. Mobile ordering has become a natural mainstay of the experience, mirroring broad industry trends, as is their in-house delivery service dubbed “McDelivery”. And while frequent coupon offers are a regular featured attraction, a stable rewards and loyalty scheme is noticeably absent — although this is bound to change in light of the imminent arrival of the upcoming “MyMcdonald’s” implementation. Overall though, the app feels oddly lacking a sense of distinction, and missing the spark of transcendence that the renowned brand has long been known for. And in another point of contention, the app has one of the lowest user ratings of brand’s discussed in this article — only Chipotle Rewards ranks lower, with 4.1 stars out of 5 compared to McDonald’s 4.5.
Sometimes, it can seem like QSR is afflicted with the bane of commoditization. Food is simply less appealing when it seems factory-produced, assembly-lined, and otherwise sterile of the personalization that other more traditional cuisines can embody. To break these perceptions, Burger King has focused on customization through their app. Digital menus and flexible UI make it exceptionally simple for diners to specify the exact meal experience their taste buds crave; and with bold taglines like “Your Way, Way Better” and “Make It Your Way”, Burger King has placed individual preferences squarely in the mouths of customers. Other app features are in-line with common trends, including mainstays like store locator tools and mobile coupons — and like McDonald’s, these coupons are taking the place of more loyalty-oriented rewards tiering…for now at least. Also like McDonald’s, BK is testing a new rewards program which may soon find its way nestled deep into the architecture of its digital QSR touchpoints like this app.