During COVID-19, food delivery has boomed. As more and more customers choose to stay inside for their own safety, restaurants and cafes are having to adapt their models to continue to serve them.
Many food businesses are now considering keeping their delivery services on permanently, even if it may not have been part of their business model before the pandemic. With delivery work in full flow, many businesses are now wondering if there’s a better option than the high fees that come with food delivery apps including UberEats and Deliveroo.
Our app development company, Appetiser Apps, has worked with a wide range of businesses. Over the years, we’ve seen the benefits for many quick service brands when it comes to having their own app, but also cases where it really doesn’t make a whole lot of business sense.
So how do you know when you’re ready for your own app or platform? And if you are, what are the steps you need to take to make it a success?
Consider the customer benefit
Before you begin to think about building your own app, you first need to consider if it’s even the right thing for you in the first place. If you’re a business who is looking to reach new customers, then using an existing platform like Deliveroo or Uber Eats would be the best fit. By building your own ordering experience, you’re looking to streamline the experience for existing customers, as well as attract new ones.
So if you find many of your existing customers are using these services to conveniently order from you, it may be time to build your own mobile app.
Apps can provide a huge range of additional benefits to customers that they simply can’t get from more mainstream delivery apps, including deep loyalty programs, branded experiences, and targeted push notifications.
Since you own your app, you won’t have marketplace fees, so you can pass those savings onto customers, or re-invest into the business to benefit them.
And while we'd never advise anyone to outright copy their competitors, it never hurts to take a look at what others are offering. Consider implementing the things they’re getting right, and learn from their mistakes by avoiding the things you found too complicated or unhelpful.
The cost factor
Many businesses, especially in the small to medium-sized range, believe that building an app is simply not cost effective. But when you factor in the fees associated with the well-known delivery apps - which can be up in the 30% fee range - the numbers begin to tell an entirely different story.
If you are considering building your own app, there are several tools available to ease the costs, including partnering with third party courier or delivery services that help you cope with all initial backend work involved. You’ll find these services are generally a lot cheaper than apps like Uber Eats, and allow a far greater level of customisation for your brand.
Then, once your business grows and has more cash to spend, you can start relying more on your own infrastructure, which usually has higher upfront, but less long-term costs.
It’s not all about the tech
While it’s tempting to get carried away with the endless different forms of technology available to food businesses today, it’s also essential that brands remember what’s most important: great design and providing an impeccable customer experience.
Brands need to be able to retain that ‘in person’ feel while delivering food via an app - often in an entirely contactless way. In the world before the pandemic, a lot of that customer service came from friendly waiters, attractive interior design, and all the little thoughtful touches that restaurants were able to sprinkle throughout the meal.
The task for brands now is to replicate that experience with a contactless delivery. It’s about adding a handwritten note saying how much your order means to you. It’s about going that extra mile on the food presentation, and figuring out how to make it taste just as good as it would do fresh out the kitchen.
How far can you push that experience? What are your competitors doing, and how can you take things one step further? These are all questions food brands need to consider in order to survive and thrive through this pandemic and beyond - and an app could be the perfect tool to help you get there.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by QSR Media. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Michael MacRae is director and co-founder of Appetiser Apps. Originally hailing from Germany, Michael founded his first mobile app company, amii Solutions, while studying at RMIT University in Victoria. He found early success with one of his first apps, First Time Pregnancy, which gained over half a million users within the space of a few weeks. Another app, GEAVI, aimed to reduce violence against women and earned a $17M US/AU patent from Telstra.
After meeting his eventual co-founder Jamie Shostak at the coffee machine at their shared co-working space, Michael was inspired to launch what is now Australia’s fastest-growing app development agency: Appetiser Apps. The agency now boasts four offices globally with over 100 members of staff across three continents and clients including YouFoodz and Sushi Train.
Jamie Shostak is co-founder and head of growth at Appetiser Apps, Australia’s fastest-growing app development agency. At 19, Jamie launched his first growth marketing agency, Webhype, which he grew to over half a million dollars in annual revenue over the space of a few short years.
In 2016, a chance encounter with his eventual co-founder, developer Michael MacRae, set the wheels in motion for Jamie’s next venture: Appetiser Apps. With Jamie’s marketing expertise and Michael’s developing know-how, the pair were able to successfully launch what is now Australia’s fastest-growing app development agency. The company has grown to a team of over 100 with offices across three continents, along with awards including the Deloitte 2019 Fast Starter, Young Entrepreneur of the Year and SmartCompany 30 Under 30.