Consumers today rely on technology more than ever. According to Pew Research, 64 percent of Americans owned a smartphone in 2015. Understandably this has driven companies to increase their efforts to engage with consumers on mobile platforms. The restaurant industry exemplifies how this can change the dynamics of doing business. Most major restaurant chains, including such powerhouse corporations as Wendy’s, Chick-fil-a, Taco Bell, Chipotle, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s, Burger King and Panera, now utilize mobile apps to cater to the needs of the American consumer’s ever-changing demands. These apps offer a variety of conveniences and perks to guests, including the ability to order and pay ahead of arriving at the location, view the menu, earn rewards through loyalty programs and play games. No longer a luxury, such technology is now mandatory for today’s most successful restaurants to compete at the highest level.
Efforts by companies to engage with their customers through this new channel have delivered exceptional results for those that have invested in it. Given that mobile payment users spend twice as much at restaurants compared to traditional ordering, it’s no surprise that nearly 50 percent of restaurants plan to spend more resources on customer-facing technology in the coming years.
While this increased consumer spending bodes well for restaurants using mobile ordering, the challenge ultimately lies in the fact that mobile payment creates different demand patterns. The supply chain must be able to support the restaurant’s growth to ensure success—via satisfied customers. Adopting 21st century consumer technology while using outdated (and in many cases, non-existent) supply chain technology can create revenue-killing problems. These include product shortages and stock outs, which can be overlooked in the rush to implement consumer-facing technology. Catering to the technology-driven consumer means today’s companies must also make a significant investment in supply chain technology to meet demand.