Restaurants Should Be Joining the Mobile App Revolution

Being that I am now a Dairy Queen franchisee, I recently received an announcement from Dairy Queen about their mobile app preparing to launch their online ordering option. I immediately began thinking about how much mobile apps have changed the restaurant industry, and how easy they have made it for consumers to have a simple and convenient experience. In a world where mobile apps are becoming more popular, it is important for those in the restaurant industry to pay attention to this growing trend.

A study has found that food and drink apps, the category where a lot of restaurant apps fall under, make up 2.72 percent of the App Store apps. As trends grow, more apps emerge and more downloads occur. Today, 25 percent of mobile phone owners have at least one restaurant app on their device. Which leads to the questions: Who is using these apps? How are they being used? Why should restaurants invest? And how new features like online ordering and mobile pay are changing the industry?

 Who has Restaurant Apps and how are they using them?

It has been found that the demographic that utilizes mobile restaurant apps the most are those ages 25 to 34. There are also other types of restaurant app users:

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 11.53.19 AM

( Infographic courtesy QSRWeb)

Whether these users want to place an order, find a location, pay for an order or make a reservation, they are able to do so from their phone thanks to today’s mobile technology. The chart below shows the types of actions that were taken by restaurant app users in 2015:

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 12.23.39 PM

(Statista (2015). Actions typically performed while using restaurant apps according to users in the United States as of February 2015- Statista) 

The features that I feel are most important for a restaurant app to have consist of the menu, the location and hours, online ordering and a payment method.

Why should restaurant chains invest in a mobile app?

The success from the investment of a mobile app is demonstrated best by Starbucks. “When you consider that 60% of local searches on mobile convert into buying customers within the hour, and the fact that Starbucks (a company notorious for leading the trends in the food and beverage industry) conducted 16% of their monetary transactions over their app alone. Which means that even though someone has to be in a physical Starbucks location to buy one of their drinks, $1.6 billion of a $10 billion revenue was all done via mobile” (Baldwin, 2016). Of course not every restaurant will receive results like Starbucks’ $1.6 billion, but there is a strong chance for increased sales.



(NBC News (2016). 1 Million People Now Ordering Starbucks On Mobile Every Month- NBC News)

Another example of why restaurants should invest in mobile apps is because of the chance of increased sales amongst the largest generation, the millennials. Statistics have shown that 35 percent of 18 to 34 year-olds enjoy placing their order via smartphone/tablet apps, and that 98 percent have used a mobile payment method and would be willing to use one again. It should also be noted that this generation spends about $174 on dining out each month. Thus if companies cater to millennials then they will get millennial’s business.

Additional reasons include:

  • “69% of consumers order food online using a mobile device (IAB & Viggle study “Mealtime Goes Mobile”)
  • 62% of consumers are less likely to choose a restaurant if they can’t read the menu on a mobile device (SinglePlatform and Chadwick Martin Bailey Study)
  • 75% of time spent on mobile for restaurants is in apps (xAd/Telmetrics Mobile Path to Purchase Study 2012)” (Ockerbloom, 2015).

How is the app world changing the industry?

 There is no doubt that today’s technology has changed the way consumers choose to fulfill their needs. From placing an order through a mobile device and using one of these top ten restaurant finding apps to making reservations through apps like “No Wait”, the industry is witnessing consumers using mobile apps and devices to create their very own dining experience. The following infographic shows how restaurant apps have made a difference and what features must be included for success.



(Mobile Payments Today (2014). 5 Things Restaurant Mobile Apps Must Include.)

Do you have mobile apps on your phone? Which is your favorite? Do you think that the power of apps may impact future jobs of waitresses/fast-food workers?



Kelso, A. (2014, February 3). 5 Things Restaurant Mobile Apps Must Include [Digital image]. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from

 Mobile Apps for Restaurants | The Current State of Mobile. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2016, from

U.S. restaurant app usage activities 2015 | Statistic. (n.d.). [Image]. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from

White, C. (n.d.). 35 Most Popular Restaurant Apps. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from

14 Reasons Why Your Restaurant Needs a Mobile App | BuildFire. (2016, April 04). Retrieved August 30, 2016, from


2 thoughts on “Restaurants Should Be Joining the Mobile App Revolution

  1. Hi Olivia,

    I was wondering if you had any insight as to how a restaurant should determine whether they should develop their own app or use a food-delivery app (such as Grubhub)? In my head, it seems like smaller, local restaurants would shy away from creating their own apps due to a smaller operating budget. Larger restaurants would have the clientele and bandwith to manage creating their own standalone app.

    I think the best apps are those that include at least four of the five success components that are mentioned in the infographic. If an app allows you to do multiple different actions, you’re more likely to keep using the app. Take the Chipotle app, for example. You can find the nearest chipotle, order and pay online, and manage your past orders.

    Regarding your final question. I don’t think that apps will have that large of an impact on wait-staff or fast food workers. I think apps are providing optionality to those who want a quicker-and-easier experience, but I think all types of restaurants will continue having customers who prefer using the more “old-school” method of the restaurant experience. At least in the near future that’s how I see it.


  2. Hi!

    That is a great question! A local pizza shop in my hometown recently developed an app, and I thought for sure that they would do better on something like Grubhub. However, I recently spoke with the owner (family friend) and he is very pleased with the results of the mobile app. Although there is a mobile app, I continue to call and place my orders over the phone.

    I have noticed that I tend to place mobile or online orders with bigger companies like Panera Bread or Olive Garden. This may be because I trust their sysytems more than the local systems. I do believe that we will see more apps in the future. Thanks!


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