When The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen introduced online ordering three years ago, few people knew what the reaction would be from customers. But in the brief period since then, mobile ordering has taken off, and 5% to 15% of all orders at The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen now come through its digital system. National brands have found similar success, with 16% of Starbucks purchases now occurring through the company’s mobile app.
Consumers are more likely to seek out restaurants that accept mobile orders, with 34% saying that technology is the reason why they’re ordering takeout more frequently. To keep these customers excited and engaged, vendors have to keep innovating and improving the way their mobile ordering platforms work for both customers and the restaurants that serve them.
To find out what’s coming up next in the evolution of mobile ordering, we went straight to the sources. Here are predictions from top executives who work in the space.
1. Increased data will lead to personalization. “My belief is that the future of mobile ordering, in many ways, will be driven by personalized recommendation platforms, much like how Pandora operates today. Companies in this space are collecting vast amounts of data on item-by-item purchasing behavior and trends in food, and it’s only a matter of time before such data is used in ways to create personalized offerings catered exactly to the tastes of each individual. Instead of being offered a variety of restaurants to choose from, users will be presented with algorithmically-driven suggestions—not only as they pertain to restaurants, but right down to specific food items—all powered by mobile food ordering’s version of Pandora’s Music Genome Project.” (Eric Kim, RushOrder)
2. Platforms will fully integrate. “Currently the technology that caters to restaurants are flat or one-dimensional. There is so much technology inside restaurants that fulfill one very specific task — reservations, ordering, POS, and accounting. However, none of these platforms communicate with each other. Mobile ordering will change that. Our vision is to create a fully integrated platform that will allow the restaurant to understand their customers better and run higher profits. Mobile ordering is our foundation to building an efficient restaurant platform where everything is synchronized—social media, food cost, beverage and food ordering, payroll, reservations, consumer data, utilities, wine lists, absolutely everything, all in one single platform.” (Gilmar Arellano, Allset)
3. Automation will make digital ordering faster and easier. “Something we are working heavily on is automated or one-click orders on the customer side. So lets say you order a pizza every Thursday. Your app will detect that pattern and ask you next Thursday if you wish to re-order. This is something which will be available within the coming year.” (Bhuvan Sachdeva, RestoLabs)
4. Recommendations will incorporate time and location. “At ChowNow, we are learning what people like and don’t like everyday. This isn’t solely based on personal food tastes, but also incorporates things like time and location. For example, if the customer is four miles from the restaurant, then the ordering app won’t recommend food items that don’t travel well, like French fries, which get soggy quickly. The mobile phone has become the remote control to our lives and that will only become more true and more personal.” (Chris Webb, ChowNow)
5. Ordering apps will act as personal concierges. “In the long term, we do see the ordering process evolve with very intelligent recommender assistance on your mobile, which ends up building your main dish, side orders and toppings based on your diet preference and calorie needs for the day. Your app will act as your personal concierge and build your order based on not only your location, time of day, and calorie intake, but also take into account the person you are going to have the meal with.” (Bhuvan Sachdeva, RestoLabs)
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.