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To App or Not to App?

Friedrichs - To App or Not to App - 9-28-2019_4

Advantages of Developing a Mobile App

  1. Improved Customer Experience – People differ in preferences in everyday life, and it’s no different in a consumer setting. While some customers prefer the total café experience—complete with ordering at the counter and sipping their coffee in-house—others like the convenience of ordering from their mobile device, skipping the line and grabbing their coffee to-go. In addition, mobile ordering reduces human error and the amount of time employees spend fielding call-in orders. This enhances both customer experience avenues. Adding a mobile app gives customers the flexibility to choose their experience. (1)

  1.  Bolstered Branding – Developing a mobile app enables businesses to meet consumers where they are. It’s a convenience customers appreciate and businesses can benefit from. You can control the design and functionality of your café’s mobile app to reflect your goals and values. It also enables you to streamline your brand across a multimedia spectrum and enhance your brand’s online presence across the market.


  2. Collect Better Data – Access to consumer data allows you to determine trends, manage ordering, identify regular customers and develop targeted ads or promotions based on their preferences and more. The analytics pulled from app reports provide valuable information for strategic planning and implementation. Apps give customers a voice by allowing ratings and reviews, which also gives café owners qualitative data to accompany the quantitative data collected from analytics. (2)

Disadvantages of Developing a Mobile App

  1. Costly Development – Mobile apps created for big businesses by established development companies can cost anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000. However, apps with basic features, which may be more the speed of your café, typically cost between $10,000 and $50,000. It levels the playing field for smaller businesses that want to increase its digital footprint by getting in on the to-go ordering game. Basic app features still allow for customized settings and branding beyond the generic functionality of the app itself. For smaller businesses, though, even a price tag of $10,000 to $50,000 can eliminate an app as an option. (3)

     2. Rewards and Loyalty Downfalls – Mobile apps traditionally have loyalty rewards programs in the form of a points for purchase system. They don’t have a much room for customization, which results in less active customers. The main objective of a mobile app with to-go ordering capabilities is to increase customer usage and satisfaction to drive sales. When consumers don’t use your app, the money spent on development, branding and advertising become wasted dollars most small- to medium-scale businesses cannot afford. (4)

    3. Necessary Internet Connectivity – Mobile-friendly apps require an internet connection. Though internet access is widespread, cellular reception is not consistent or predictable. An app that depends on the internet to function is an app that will inevitable frustrate consumers. A frustrated customer can create a disconnect, which may result in the abandonment of any brand loyalty that customer held for your café.

If you can afford the expense, your café will likely reap the benefits of adding a mobile app with a to-go ordering feature. The decision ultimately boils down to whether the benefits outweigh the cost for your business. Regardless of whether your café implements a to-go ordering system in the form of an app, remember you are in control of how your café is represented internally and externally. Good luck!