Top 4 Ways to Deliver Customer Expectations through a Restaurant App

As you start creating a restaurant app, your customers should be your priority. Learn how to create the best restaurant app by meeting customer needs.

As you start creating an app for your restaurant, look for the obvious: incorporating your entire menu, customization options, loyalty program, and elevating your brand in ways that extend your in-house experience into the digital world. Just as well, you need to ensure the experience appeals to the expectations customers have of the best restaurant apps. So how do you decide what those expectations are?

The measure of a restaurant has changed. For years, food critics and the media have reviewed restaurant menus and the overall experience, and these evaluations can make or break brands, especially local ones. But whereas the past focused on the restaurant itself, today, it’s common to be judged on restaurant technology, such as the website or online ordering platform.

Collaborating with publications gives your brand and restaurant more visibility. But ultimately, your customers should be your priority. Let’s look at how to create the best restaurant app by meeting customer needs:

What makes customers appreciate your app?

Once you start diving into customer research, you will discover there are countless features and functionalities people expect from your technology. To simplify, most requests fall into two buckets: ease of use and options.

Ease of use

Baby boomers and millennials still make up the largest generations in the U.S., and the vast majority of both groups know the “struggle” of a world without modern technology. That said, providing easy-to-use platforms is essential to gain their trust—and their business.

Generations Z and Alpha are coming in hot, and it won’t be long before they make up the majority of your customer base. They have never known life without technology (and probably have no clue what a VCR is), so these “kids” expect ease of use—and won’t tolerate anything less. If your app doesn’t measure up, you will hear about it from these groups when they vote on the best restaurant apps, write reviews of your brand, or worse—post to social media. A few items are high on their list of ease-of-use features:

  • Authentication for security, privacy, and convenience
  • Streamlined browsing and ordering
  • Speed and performance
Payment Options

Remember when pizza shops started taking online orders but didn’t have built-in payment features? Thank goodness those days are (mostly) over. In 2020—undoubtedly aided by the pandemic and sanitary concerns—67 percent of customers used a credit or debit card for point-of-sale (POS) purchases. Knowing this, restaurant apps or online ordering platforms that only allow in-person cash payments upon delivery are about as irrelevant as disc drives in your laptop.

The big draw for technology solutions is convenience—something customers don’t get when you fail to streamline the ordering process. Offering options such as gift cards, credit and debit card payments—plus PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay—will make life easier for customers, making them delighted to do business with you.

Dining Options

Eating out is complicated. Between choosing the restaurant, getting the whole family ready to go, and figuring out what to eat once you’re there, it can be a difficult process. It’s no wonder that 63 percent of consumers say it’s more convenient to get delivery instead. And nowadays, you have to factor in the pandemic and how it has affected customer precautions and restaurant capacities. But pandemic or not, by offering delivery, carry out, and dine-in options, you have the greatest opportunity to please the most customers.

What makes your customer order from competitors?

If you’re losing out on customers, there’s probably a good reason for it—no matter how delicious your food is. We live in an on-demand age, so if you don’t have a restaurant app or online ordering platform, you’re leaving money on the table. Instead, your competitors nab the piece of the digital pie that should be yours. And that piece of the pie grows larger every year, with digital channel sales on pace to reach 30 percent of total restaurant sales by 2025. Now’s the time to get on board.

Of course, not having the right tech to please your audience isn’t the only thing that draws them to the “dark side” (where they have cookies). If you have an app and potential customers are still turning elsewhere, it could mean a poor app experience or a lack of features.

Glitchy app experience

What does it mean to have a “glitchy app?” As a consumer, have you ever experienced online ordering platforms that randomly shut down? Or take you to a section you didn’t want? A glitchy app is one that just doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.

Let’s say your app works, but the services behind the scenes fail and the app doesn’t communicate that fact to the user. Now, they blame your brand.

Example: A customer attempts to order from a local restaurant multiple times, only to be denied at the last step. “Out of delivery area,” it says. But this restaurant allowed deliveries the previous week. The problem? That the restaurant’s third-party delivery service isn’t available. Unfortunately, the customer doesn’t have this info, assuming instead that the app is broken.

Or perhaps customization features are either broken or unavailable, and it’s a hassle to customize or modify an item.

Example: An entree says it comes with rice or fries and a salad or soup, but there’s no way to select between the options. The only option is to type them into the special instructions box at checkout—which could easily get lost.

When customers find nothing but roadblocks, not only do they get frustrated, but they also lose trust in your brand and your app experience.

Payment experience

We already mentioned how integrating payment features is a must for restaurant apps, but it bears repeating. Let us be clear: Anything less than a contactless drop-off is essentially giving your customers no payment option.

Ordering in the app and paying at the door just doesn’t cut it anymore, and yours won’t be one of the best restaurant apps. So your app needs to incorporate a smooth payment experience. Foster customer trust by providing a clean, secure payment portal that accepts at least the most common payment methods: debit, credit, and PayPal.

Note: If your payment portal looks untrustworthy—even if it’s secure behind the scenes—folks may be wary of entering payment information. Keep it clean!

But let’s take it a step further. Think about how you gravitate toward shopping incentives. Free or low-cost shipping? Moth, meet flame. In the context of restaurant app ordering, if customers get to final payment and see a huge delivery charge, you can be sure they will bounce in favor of another option.

Of course, if your restaurant is smaller or you’re just getting started with an online ordering platform or restaurant app, maybe incentives are further down the road—though it never hurts to think ahead. After all, media outlets award restaurant apps that do more for customers, such as offering freebies, coupons, and loyalty programs. The best part? You can use customer data to personalize their loyalty experience. The restaurant industry is competitive, so any edge you can get through your app will drive more customers to you instead of competitors.

Easily create the best restaurant apps for customers.

So how do you make the best restaurant app to meet customer needs? Simple: Give the people what they want! That means making your app easy to use and providing options for a pleasant experience. Once your app is underway, test it and ensure it provides a smooth and error-free experience.

Not sure how to get started?

Get in touch with Detroit Labs to discover the possibilities of Octocart.

The Complete Guide to Building a Restaurant App: From Deliver to Delight

Check our insightful Ebook resource about customizable digital ordering solution and how it affects business.
You can read it on our website or download for free. 


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