Daily Insights

Restaurant Apps Step Up to the Plate

By: Mackenzie Baker | Mar 19, 2020

With increasing regulations over dining-in during the Coronavirus pandemic, customers are relying on apps to order food to go. 

Restaurants across the United States are working on social distancing by limiting dine-in services at their locations. Instead, brands are leaning heavily into food delivery or drive-through pickup, as well as encouraging customers to order ahead. McDonald’s and Starbucks, for example, are two of the largest national chains that have announced a cease to in-store dining. Additionally, McDonald’s has stopped using its self-serve kiosks and closed children’s play areas while Starbucks announced it would close any stores in highly infected areas and rely on drive-through for remaining stores. 

For many brands, this unprecedented time has led to indefinite store closings, but both McDonald’s and Starbucks have made the most of the circumstances as a time to adapt and lean into their heavily curated apps. To incentivize app ordering, McDonald’s gives customers discounts when placing orders through the app. Starbucks traditionally takes a similar approach on its app, which is already used by almost seventeen million customers. A Gartner report found that the most immediate connection restaurants can maintain with loyal and existing customers is through their apps. That said, preserving those connections is crucial during a time as critical as this. 

As restaurants work to adapt to the rapidly changing environment, putting more thought into their apps could help them remain relevant to customers.