2015-04-24 11:37

Pre-order apps build customer loyalty to restaurants

Ewa Tkaczyk, Business Consultant at Gemius

Whether in rush or not, customers have begun to value their time more and more. It is particularly true in cafeterias and restaurants where people are not willing to wait in long queues anymore. In fact, they don’t have to. Thanks to a special app they are able to pre-book their meal so that it is already waiting for them when they visit the restaurant. Ewa Tkaczyk, Gemius' business advisor, presents this recent trend in the U.S.A.

Since December 2014, thanks to an app called pre-order, it has been possible to make an online order with any Starbucks’ store in Oregon before you actually go to one of their coffeehouses. This means that your favourite coffee or sandwich is ready and awaiting for you as you enter the door. It definitely saves some time, which, normally one has to spend in a queue waiting for their order to be prepared.

A way to retain a customer

The advantages of such an app have been appreciated, not only by people constantly in a hurry, but also those who value convenience and high quality service. How does ordering a morning coffee normally work ? We go to a cafeteria and immediately encounter crowds. Then we start counting: waiting in a queue for about five to ten minutes, ordering and payment adds yet another two to three minutes, and finally our order is prepared after an additional five minutes. During rush hours it can even take as long as 20 minutes to get a mug of our favourite beverage. The multinationals have tried to improve and shorten that process with this app: order and pay in advance, by means of a mobile app and your coffee will be ready just in time. It’s simple, pleasant and can save you up to 15 minutes! It is also likely that satisfied clients will come back the following day and make another order. Large coffee chains are to introduce pre-order apps globally.

Not for everyone

Should each and every restaurant now consider introducing pre-order apps? Indeed, they should consider it. However, it is essential to estimate if such a model suits the overall style of a particular place. Do the clients of a restaurant prefer grabbing something to eat in hurry or just the opposite – would they rather savour both the food and the atmosphere? In the latter case the answer is not that simple.

On the other hand restaurant owners might not be willing to create their own app of this kind, or may simply have to deal with an insufficient budget. Smaller players could use applications that aggregate offers and enable orders to be made at various places. This is an alternative way to reach and attract customers who do not like standing in queues and would eagerly use their smartphones to order things.

What else needs to be analysed?

Apart from the commission, the restaurant owners would have to take into account new challenges, investment and operational changes. A new ordering tool requires the involvement of additional staff, implementing new processes for meal ordering and preparation and also employee training. Undoubtedly the possibility of attracting new customers who would make orders by means of mobile apps is tempting, but all restaurants should assess their potential (place, staff, infrastructure) individually.

Loyalty card replaced by smartphones

Pre-order has already been incorporated into the latest trend in mobile applications that support loyalty programs. This is a natural outcome of changing an analogue system for a more convenient one offered by smartphones. Another benefit to a customer who belongs to many loyalty programs is the possibility of registering all accumulated points in just the one application. According to statistics, customers are still happy to join such rewarding programs. They collect points, stickers, stamps, stars and simply enjoy being rewarded. However, in the near future, loyalty cards will gradually disappear from our wallets that are already overloaded with redundant plastic.

About the research

The data comes from gemiusAudience, an international research project conducted by Gemius in around 30 countries in Europe, Middle East and North Africa. It aims to determine the number and demographic profile of internet users and to learn about the ways in which they use the net: websites, audio and video material, or applications. The research is carried out in compliance with the international code of conduct ICC/ESOMAR.

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Type of Content



FMCG, Trade


Ewa Tkaczyk

Business Consultant at Gemius

Passionate about new technologies. Involved in creating digital products and services in the fields of concept, business strategy and marketing. She gained her experience in such companies as Mars, Unilever and AT Kearney. She also managed advertising campaigns for the largest market players, i.e. McDonalds, E.Wedel, nc+, Suzuki or Polbank.

She graduated from the Warsaw School of Economics (marketing and management, specialist in strategic management) and finished a yearly talent development programme in marketing at Unilever’s Knorr Brand Development Department.

In Gemius, as Senior Business Consultant, she is responsible for analysis and recommendations supporting clients in pursuing their business objectives.

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