Friday, September 25, 2020

WTH is a Mobile-Focused Restaurant?

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one asking, “What the hell is a mobile-focused restaurant?”. I was confused too when I started seeing headlines of new mobile-focused restaurants appear this year (and I work for a mobile app platform company). I had so many questions circling around in my head about this new concept. Can you only order through the restaurant’s mobile app? What makes these restaurants different? Is this dining experience our new reality? So I decided to do a little digging into what a mobile-focused restaurant entailed and what restaurants have gone forward with this initiative. Here’s a breakdown of what I found.

What Was Wrong With the Old Way?

I, like many of you, have done a lot of mobile-ordering and fast food meals this year. While both of these options are easy, they come with their own challenges. Sure, you can skip the line with mobile ordering, but many times you still have to venture inside. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has done the awkward shuffle inside a restaurant trying to stay close enough to the counter so I can hear my name being called, while still trying to remain close to six feet away from the other restaurant patrons as possible. It’s not an ideal situation.

But this isn’t any restaurant’s fault for not having a better layout inside. Who knew this was going to be our reality for the unforeseeable future? Thus, a change needed to be made in the restaurant industry. Surprisingly, restaurants have been quick to innovate this year. And the new mobile-focused restaurant model is no different.

Well, What Is It?

Instead of having mobile ordering be an afterthought in the restaurant’s layout, it will be its entire focus. In this video depicting what a Burger King restaurant will look like, the restaurant itself will be much smaller. Though this is just an example of one restaurant, it’s clear in-person dining is no longer the main priority of the establishment as the only tables are few and far between.

As far as the actual restaurant, the video displays two locations for food pick-up. The first location is for mobile orders located outside of the restaurant. Food is placed in a mechanism that will make you feel like you’re back in high school grabbing your lunchbox from your locker. The second location is for walk-up ordering for those that choose not to order on mobile.

There will also be a dedicated area in the parking lot for curbside pick-up (although I will miss getting a kick out of the jury-rigged parking spots some eating establishments created this year with buckets). Drive-thru will continue to play a big part in the fast-food restaurant’s design as drive-thru sales rose 26 percent this year. Some restaurants may have multiple lanes to speed up the process.

Follow the King

Like I mentioned previously, Burger King (AKA, the apple of our eye) has been a trailblazer for these mobile-focused restaurants, calling this restaurant model the “Burger King of Tomorrow”. They’ve even designed a second layout of what these establishments could look like. The “Burger Kings of Tomorrow” claim to be 100 percent touchless and 60 percent smaller than traditional restaurants. If you live in Miami, Latin America, or the Caribbean, you can expect to see these restaurants start popping up next year.

Taco Bell Wants In

Taco Bell is also ‘thinking outside the bun’ with the way they conduct business with their initiative, Go Mobile. Much like Burger King’s model, Taco Bell Go Mobile restaurants will be a smaller-scale version of their traditional restaurants. Go Mobile locations will have dual drive-thrus, one for traditional ordering, and one that prioritizes customers who order on their native mobile app. The priority drive-thru will guide users to the correct lane once they arrive and users can earn additional loyalty points. Taco Bell fans can expect to see these restaurants at the beginning of 2021.

It’s clear that mobile has become the primary focus of restaurants’ 2021 marketing strategies. We’ve entered a new era where brands that choose not to seriously reconsider their mobile marketing strategies will fall behind the competition. Don’t let your brand be a distant memory for consumers. Here’s what you need to do for your mobile strategy.