mobile app development for restaurants

Why Develop Mobile Apps for Restaurants?

Estimated read time: 10 minutes

Want to know why you should develop mobile apps for restaurants?

You might be wondering why a restaurant needs a mobile app – and in this article, I’m going to outline just that. Here’s the basic truth: your restaurant needs a mobile app and it needs it, like, yesterday.

You may be a café or bar owner, someone looking to break into the restaurant industry, or someone who already owns a successful restaurant business, but if you don’t get into the world of restaurant apps, your business is going to be left behind by the competition.

Why perform mobile app development for restaurants?

Mobile apps are a huge, huge revenue stream for restaurant businesses. Take a look at Starbucks. The company is undoubtedly one of the most successful in the industry and paves the way when it comes to mobile transactions.

They drew in $10 billion dollars of revenue since they opened their mobile app, but a whopping $1.6 billion of revenue was brought in by the mobile app alone. 16% of their monetary transactions took place over their online app. Don’t you think that’s worth the investment?

Here are six reasons you need to make a mobile app for your restaurant now.

Most Restaurants Fail

This is a scary thing to think about if you own a restaurant, but the truth is that most restaurants fail. Here are the very real statics of just how risky of a business you’re in. According to research done by Ohio State University:

  • 60% of restaurants fail in the first year
  • 80% of restaurants go bankrupt in five years

Investing in custom restaurant app development for your restaurant can help give your business more security by opening up your range of customers and offering them incentives to come in.

60% of local searches on mobile convert into real, paying customers within an hour. Isn’t that pretty valuable? Keep scrolling down and we’ll show you how to get started.


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Location-Based Deals

The best way to bring customers into your restaurant is to entice them with deals. A mobile app can certainly help sway wary customers by offering a deal based on their location. Location-Based deals are a must because most of your customers will download your app and return for special offers.

We’re going to outline how to get started with creating an app for your restaurant. Apps like Foursquare and Yelp have been doing this for years, and it’s about time you get on board. While I definitely recommend signing up for those services, it’s great to have your own.

You can use GPS coupons (people who check into your app get rewards just for visiting) or iBeacon technology (hardware that lets you catch the location of your app’s users and send notifications to stop in). This all helps bring people in and create loyal customers, raising your profits.


Online Ordering

I’m going to be honest: a mobile app for restaurant ordering will change your entire business’ revenue stream. Your customers should not have to pick up a phone to order. Here’s why online ordering is perhaps the most important part of a custom mobile app for restaurants.

  • Many millennial clients don’t want to pick up a phone and order food, so they’ll skip right over to your restaurant locator app.
  • Online ordering is a $9 billion industry you’re missing out on. Read more here.

If a customer can get your product while they’re sitting on their couch and barely have to lift a finger, they’ll definitely be more likely to order. Plus, there’s not a single person out there who enjoys being put on hold.

If you read on, I’m going to show you how to get started with your restaurant’s mobile app development.

Loyalty Programs Made Easy

Gone are the days of loyalty punch cards. You owe your business (and your customers) so much more than that. Let’s look at the stats of what happened when Pizza Rach, a local pizzeria, ran a loyalty program. They gave their customers double points on a certain day if they came in and bought something. It was a huge success.

  • They received 67.6% more business
  • Their ROI was 780% on the money they invested.

Restaurant mobile app development was well worth it for Pizza Ranch – and will be well worth it for you, too. We’ll show you how to get started below, but there are a number of ways a mobile-based loyalty program will help your business.

A mobile loyalty program will encourage your customers to come back frequently – but this is so much better than a physical punch card. You can send your customers push notifications and special offers if they haven’t been to your location in a while (or for no reason at all because everyone loves a deal).

Keep your restaurant on your customers’ minds and they’ll always come back. It should also be noted that 52% of all restaurant-goers are willing to download restaurant apps and return to redeem deals and promotions

Streamlined Order Fulfillment and Payment

Building a mobile app for your restaurant isn’t just about bringing in a new revenue stream – it also helps out your staff and frees them up to help customers currently in store. Restaurants without mobile apps suffer from a few problems:

  • Someone has to answer the phones all day, instead of serving customers in the restaurant.
  • Customers don’t always carry cash, which can prevent them from ordering regular delivery.
  • Orders can easily become mixed up and you can lose business because you’re playing a game of telephone with your customers and restaurant staff.

A mobile app for your restaurant will eliminate these problems, and we’ll show you how to get started below. In-app payment not only frees up your desk staff and makes your delivery guys less stressed out, but customers who don’t carry physical cash will be more likely to order.


Orders are also streamlined. There’s no yelling to your kitchen guy about what’s needed leaving no items left out of orders and no unhappy customers who don’t come back.

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It’s a simple one-step process that saves you money in the long run (you’ll get fewer returns and save money on staff), and it makes everyone happy.

Free Advertising and Referrals

A mobile app can greatly boost the visibility of your dining establishment by encouraging users to share and refer other customers for rewards. According to Referrizer:

  • 83% of customers are willing to refer restaurants to their friends
  • Less than 29% refer people without an incentive.

Imagine the revenue stream you could pick up if 83% of your customers referred a friend. An app that offers this incentive and gives points and rewards to those who share on social media or refer friends via SMS will help you encourage 83% to share. It’s essentially free advertising that increases your ROI.

How to  start Mobile App Development for Restaurants

Figuring out how to build a mobile app for your restaurant may seem pretty overwhelming, but I can help. Here’s how to get started:

  • Decide which features you want (mobile ordering, loyalty programs, location-based deals, etc.), and if you’re using the Appy Pie app, it will be possible to build additional features later on.
  • Find restaurant app developers who are willing to take on your project.
  • Work with your app’s developers to create the functionality you desire.
  • Launch your app to a small range of customers and gather feedback.
  • Edit your app according to customer feedback and launch it to the public.

Finding restaurant mobile app developers is really the most difficult part – especially because it takes you away from what you love, owning and running your restaurant. 

If you have a website, you might use a shortcut and convert it into a mobile app with the help of different platforms.

What else to consider when developing mobile apps for the restaurant industry?

Keep the following aspects in mind when developing restaurant mobile apps:

A. Restaurant app builder vs custom development

If you are a restaurant owner, then you would like to offer the best app to customers. Third-party platforms for app development can help you to get an app out to the market quickly.

Such low-code or no-code platforms allow personalized branding too. Small businesses without a software development team might want to take advantage of such platforms.

However, app builders have several limitations. You might want to offer customized features in your own mobile app. Opt for custom development since it allows you to offer a personalized experience to customers and highly customized features.

B. Should you use hybrid development vs native mobile development for your restaurant’s app?

The food and beverage industry is highly competitive. If you conduct a survey among the food and beverage industry stakeholders, then you will find that over half of the respondents will highlight the importance of user experience.

Restaurant owners want not only new customers but repeat customers too. They identify user experience as a key factor for their success. Restaurant owners would want that for their mobile app too.

Hybrid development costs less. However, native mobile development enables the app to make the best use of the features of the mobile device. Native mobile developments deliver better security and performance. We recommend you opt for native development.

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C. Hire a team with in-depth knowledge of the food and beverage industry

Software development isn’t just about programming languages, databases, and IDEs (integrated development environments). Industry knowledge plays a key part in application development.

Business and IT leaders in all industries hire developers with deep knowledge of the respective industry vertical. Such developers can execute projects faster and better.

You need to hire developers that know how the restaurant apps work. Evaluate their domain knowledge during the interview. Check whether the candidates know the following:

  • How a single app can handle online ordering and aspects like a rewards page?

  • Many restaurants allow ordering ahead. How does a mobile restaurant app handle this?

  • How do mobile ordering apps manage aspects like customer loyalty?

  • What is the best way to implement push notifications in a food ordering app?

  • How frequently should a mobile ordering app send push notifications to users?

  • What is the best way to integrate social media channels like Facebook pages with a restaurant mobile app?

  • How do restaurant apps handle features like commission fees?

The above list isn’t an exhaustive one. The point is that you need to proactively evaluate the industry domain knowledge.

There’s no reason not to develop a restaurant mobile app. The return on investment is well, well worth. The restaurant app development process may seem like something costly and out of reach, especially if you’re a small business owner or just starting out, but that’s not actually the case.

The truth is you can get started for as little as a few thousand dollars if you keep features to a minimum, and you’ll probably see a handsome ROI within just a few days if you play your cards right. What do you have to lose?

Try engaging a professional software development company for successful custom restaurant mobile app development. You can find the field-expert software developers community at DevTeam.Space.

Write to us your app specifications via this form and one of our account managers will get back to you to help partner with these high-quality software developers for their restaurant app development services using the latest mobile app development technologies.

Frequently Asked Questions on mobile app development for restaurants

Does my restaurant need a mobile app?

Restaurants that have allowed access to their services through a basic app have seen a dramatic increase in profits. While most have chosen to allow meals to be ordered via online food delivery apps like Food Panda, some have chosen to create their own apps to cut out the middle man.

What are the benefits of a successful restaurant app?

Increased customer base
Better customer awareness of the services you offer
Ability to improve customer retention with reward schemes etc.

What is the best app for restaurants?

The most obvious examples are Food Panda and Uber Eats. For a commission, these apps allow customers to search a wide variety of restaurants based on such criteria as food type and customer feedback. All restaurants using these apps have seen their profits boosted through online food ordering.


Alexey Semeney

Founder of DevTeam.Space

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