Loyalty, Mobile, Social

15 Features To Add To Your Restaurant App in 2017

Niall Quinn iOS Developer

There’s more and more restaurant apps popping up in the market, resulting in greater competition and greater customer expectations. To put the level of demand into context – 1 in 4 consumers have at least one restaurant app on their phone. (RetailMeNot, 2016)

But don’t worry! We’ve done the research and have found 15 features to add to your restaurant app in 2017! We know that that’s a lot of features (and sometimes less is more). So we’ve prioritized the list into, 1) Must-Haves, and 2) Great-To-Haves.

By adding these features, you’ll improve registrations engagement, loyalty and brand perception.

Best Restaurant Apps’ Must-Have Features

Smartphone Apps

#1- Mobile Payments & POS Integration

Mobile ordering and payments are a great way to link purchases back to customer profiles/loyalty members. It’s convenient for the customer and helps you understand your customers purchase behavior.

But what about those customers who engage primarily in physical, in-store payment transactions? How can you track them and their spending? That is where Point-of-Sale (POS) integrations come in. It’s a great way to get a full view of your customers and their spending behavior.

Many of the best restaurant apps integrate with POS hardware through scanners, i.e. a QR code on a page in the app. The tricky bit is getting customers to adapt to this behavior of producing the app to scan. Starbucks has introduced a clever reward/perk by offering free refills for customers who pay for items in-store with the app. (Business Insider, 2016)

#2 – Mobile Loyalty Program

A common goal of many of the best restaurant apps is to improve customer loyalty. As apps are a great way to increase the ROI on loyalty programs. (We’ve prepared an in-depth webinar on this topic that you can watch here)

The beauty of mobile loyalty programs is the data they can collect. This data can lead to valuable insights and help identify opportunities. By integrating your loyalty program in areas, like POS and social networks, the better insights you’ll get. Also, by digitizing your loyalty program in an app, it facilitates personalization and handy measurement reports. Loyalty is key to generating ROI on your app investment.

#3 – Online Ordering

Next up on our list in online ordering. The demand for this feature is high, not just for the best restaurant apps – but all merchant apps! This rise in demand is due to technological advancements and changes in consumer behavior. Consumers, Millennials especially, don’t like to make phone calls (Inc, 2017). The convenience of clicking a few buttons on an app can create a better customer experience.

In fact, online ordering is in such high demand, that Facebook has introduced online ordering to the messenger app! (Engadget, 2017)

#4 – Push Notifications

Now, this might seem like an obvious one. Push notifications are pretty crucial to any app. But they’re often misused and abused. If you want your app to be one of the best restaurant apps out there, then your push notifications need to be sophisticated so that you can be strategic with them. By that, we mean being responsible and relevant with your push notifications.


Push notifications should offer value to users. And how can you be sure it will offer value? By personalizing your push notifications. So not just addressing users by their name. But ensuring the time that you send them a notification is appropriate, i.e. not in the middle of the night! Also, if integrate your loyalty, social and payment data, you can identify what products/dishes your customer is interested in, and deliver communications about that product.

It really comes down to knowing your customer inside-out and giving them what they want. We recommend using progressive profiling with your customers. So asking them questions that will help you become more strategic. For example, you can ask users which channel they would prefer to receive communications from your brand, and on what topics. Let’s say, SMS, Email, or push notifications, about special offers and new store openings, on Thursdays between 5 – 7 pm.

To put the importance of this activity into perspective – Accenture Strategy found that 81% of consumers feel loyal to brands that were there when they needed them, but otherwise respected their time and left them alone.

#5 – Advocacy Rewards (WOM Marketing)

Advocacy or referral rewards are a relatively new app feature. Traditionally they’ve been used more in B2B businesses, where transactions tend to occur less frequently than B2C. But thanks to technological advancements, it’s now easy to automate advocacy rewards with Popdeem software.

With consumers trusting brands, publications, and journalists less and less – advocacy is even more important. Word-of-Mouth converts at the highest rate, among all forms of promotion. Want a second opinion? Check out this video of Gary Vaynerchuk from 2013, before he was earning six-figures for speaking engagements and Vaynerchuk Media took off!

Taking into account the power of social media, word-of-mouth now has the potential to reach thousands of people in a matter of days.

Advocacy rewards act as a form of word-of-mouth marketing, which by definition ‘differs from naturally occurring word of mouth, in that it is actively influenced or encouraged by organizations (e.g. ‘seeding’ a message in a network, rewarding regular consumers to engage in WOM, employing WOM ‘agents’).’ Making it arguably the most cost-effective form of promotion.

We make it easy to encourage customers to share positive word-of-mouth stories on social media with automated, but targeted rewards. Our targeted rewards give brands control over their rewards, i.e. to users in a specific area, or who spend a minimum of X dollars a week or month.

#6 – Social Integration

You’ll find social integration in all of the best restaurant apps on the market. It adds a whole host of added benefits to your app. It facilitates social sign-on, making registration a single, simple action. As well as social advocacy rewards. It also collects valuable profiling data around demographics, interests etc.

#7 – Customer Feedback Portal

If you’re serious about wanting your app to be the best, then you’ll need to be consistently reviewing your app performance and searching for ways to improve to keep up with competitors. A great way to do this is through customer feedback portals. It’s a convenient and passive way to collect primary research on your app users. It gives them the opportunity to suggest improvements or help identify any weaknesses in your app.

#8 – Customer Profiling and Segmentation

We touched on this earlier in previous features. Customer profiling lets you understand more about your customers. Then segmentation allows you to tailor things like rewards, push notifications etc. to best suit your customers and improve their app experience. Which brings us to our next must-have feature in the best restaurant apps…

#9 – Personalization

Personalization is so common it’s now almost expected to receive personalized communications. But we’re talking about going beyond just addressing users by their names. You should be offering rewards on their birthdays and other special occasions.

Also, depending on the how well your app captures and processes behavior information, you can determine what a customers’ favorite product is and offer them personalized rewards of that product. Personalization is all about creating the sense of a one-to-one conversation with customers to build lasting relationships.

It’s also worth noting that according to Accenture Strategy, 54% of 18-34-year-olds (versus 34% of 55+) say that ‘giving them the opportunity to personalize products they buy to create something unique to them, influences their overall feeling of loyalty toward a brand or company.’

Best Restaurant Apps – Great-To-Haves


#10 – Influencer Targeting

With the rise of influencer marketing, this is a great-to-have feature. In a way, influencer marketing is an extension of word-of-mouth marketing. It’s based on the idea of recommendations/endorsements and is trusted more by consumers than traditional forms of advertising. But some marketers would argue that influencer marketing has lost some of its authenticity and therefore its effectiveness. What’s causing authenticity to fall? Well, more people are aware that influencers are paid to endorse brands on social media, due to new rules around disclosure. But celebrities have been paid to endorse brands for years and it’s still effective?

Source: Wired, 2017

Influencer marketing is a complicated area, but the fiasco that was Fyre Festival, we can expect to see trust drop in the influencers who promoted it, like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid. (Wired, 2017)

An exciting new trend is micro-influencer marketing. This is influencer marketing with smaller scale influencers, potentially with just a few thousand followers. You could argue that micro-influencer marketing is more effective because they tend to have more intimate relationships with their followers, making their recommendations more trustworthy and likely to convert to a sale.

We provide software that allows brands segment their customers by their level of influence. Now, this isn’t just based on the number of followers a user has, as you can purchase followers. We look at follower count, combined with engagement rates to determine an influencer score.

By segmenting your influential customers, you can offer them compelling advocacy rewards of higher value in exchange for the reach and conversions they can achieve through their influence.

#11 – Rich Notifications

The rich notification is a notification that you can expand to view more information. They can help increase engagement on push notifications, but it’s important to note that there is a reliance of people to allow your notifications, which may be a small portion of your users.

But if you want your app to be one of the best restaurant apps on the App Store/Google Play, why not offer these cool, rich notifications to your users that do allow notifications! It’ll help your brand image to appear more innovative and on the cutting-edge of technology. Both of which appeal to modern consumers.

#12 – Gamification

Gamification uses game mechanics in a non-game context to reward you for completing tasks. It’s all about motivation, rewards, and the psychological effects of both. Without getting too complicated, when you experience pleasure or happiness, it’s due to a release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is released when you receive a reward, even more so when it’s unexpected (lifehacker.com, 2014), it’s also released when you accomplish a goal.


Consider creating a challenge for your app users to boost engagement. But be aware, that gamification is less common in restaurant apps, but it is a great way to encourage shifts in behavior. You’ll need to be creative in the challenge you want your users to achieve.

#13 – Chatbots

Chatbots make communicating with customers a lot easier, but it does require a bit of time to set up. Chatbots are computer programs designed to simulate a conversation with human users. They’re becoming popular on Facebook Messenger.

Want to learn more about chatbots? Then visit our Food Marketing Trends in 2017 post – here.

#14 – Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is a feature we expect to see more of in the industry’s best restaurant apps. Since research shows that 47% of 18-34 (versus 25% of 55+) say that engaging with them in innovative and creative ways to provide a multi-sensory experience influences their overall feeling of loyalty toward a brand or company. (Accenture Strategy, 2017)

An example of a brand that included AR in their app is Walgreen’s. The technology enables customers to search for a specific product in a store, and an AR map appeared to show them where to find the product, at what price, and the savings that would get by shopping at Walgreen’s. (AdAge, 2014).


#15 – Geo-Targeting Tech

Finally, we have geo-targeting. This technology allows businesses to target people based on their location and communicate in real-time with their target audience. Once individuals opt-in to location-based programs, brands can notify them of deals and promotions when they are in-store, or even when they’re around the vicinity.

iBeacons are another way that brands can engage in geo-targeting. These provide a unique opportunity for brands to deliver relevant alerts or adverts to existing loyal customers and potential new customers.

Take The Next Step To Building The Best App For Your Restaurant

Looking to create an app or upgrade your existing one? Why not get in touch to arrange a free Popdeem demonstration by submitting the form below?

Niall Quinn iOS Developer
Leave a Comment