How Much Does it Cost to Build a Restaurant app?
Warning: have a bite before reading this article, because today we’re going to talk about restaurant apps. And while you enjoy your meal (I really hope so!), we will tell you about reasons, tips & costs to build such an app.
We have it everywhere. I bet it will take no longer than 10 minutes for you to reach the closest eatery, no matter whether it’s a pizzeria, a store with donuts or a casual dining restaurant. We can see the cult of food everywhere - in our Instagram feeds, on TV and in the mass culture, so it seems to be the golden age for restaurant owners. Yet, everything is not so simple.
As the competition grows, restaurants try to find new approaches to retain old customers and get new ones, increase sales and brand awareness (as well as loyalty).
Actually, you don’t have too much choice. The history remembers enough examples of once super successful restaurant chains that hit multimillion-dollar revenues and owned hundreds of locations but ended up in the worst way.
How to avoid such an unwanted scenario? Constantly develop and follow (or even create!) the trends. Since 2 of the biggest trends are food and mobile, why don’t you combine them by creating a restaurant mobile app for your business? Here are 3 reasons to start it as soon as possible, so read on!
🍽️ Top 3 reasons to build your own restaurant app
1. Increased sales
Every business owner thinks about increasing incomes and it’s okay. Since the scheme “spend less than you earn” is true for any business, you should apply only those changes that can noticeably boost your revenues. And a restaurant app development is among these changes!
Do you want proof? How about amazing statistics by AppInstitute:
“Well,” you may object, “it’s just abstract numbers, are there any real cases?”.
I guess you know the Taco Bell chain well enough even if you have never eaten there. In late October 2014, guys released Taco Bell application simultaneously on iOS and Android. In less than a year the app has hit over 3 million downloads and greatly increased sales. Moreover, it was reported that in-app orders were usually $10+ which is about 20% higher than average orders made in person. Pretty good, isn’t it?
By the way, the app is pretty well designed and has several interesting features, so check the case study of it at the end of this article!
The ability to retarget customers is a great advantage of a mobile app over a website. What does it mean? Let me explain.
When consumers enter your restaurant, for them you exist only at this exact moment. After they leave it, you literally disappear for them till they don’t visit it again.
This is not the same with apps. Let’s be honest: a restaurant mobile app isn’t Facebook or Snapchat, so people are not going to use it daily. However, there is one thing that completely changes the rules of the game - push notifications.
So what are the advantages of using push notifications for your restaurant business? For example, you can:
- remind your consumers to complete unfinished in-app orders or to pick up already prepared ones;
- inform them about hot deals, ongoing events, new coupons and so on;
- interact with specific groups of customers (for example, to send a breakfast special only to users who pass within 200-300 meters from your eatery between 8-11 am).
If you already have a website you may object to me that almost all of the above can be done with email. Yes, it can be done, but no, it can not be done just as effectively. And the research by PushEngage proves it:
Moreover, push notifications are usually small, so people are more likely to read them. However, don’t send too many of them as it may annoy users. For the best result we advise sending about 2 push notifications a week.
3. Сreate brand awareness and loyalty
More and more marketers these days talk about growing not a wide but deep customer base. They advise businesses that it’s better to have less but more loyal customers.
In practice it means that you should think more about inclining old customers to make even bigger orders and more purchases rather than attracting new consumers. In my opinion, the truth lies somewhere between.
Your business can’t successfully grow having only a few even very loyal clients. But on the other hand, in a long-term perspective, it’s profitable to have regular customers who generate repeated orders and drive you more revenue than one-time visitors.
The app allows to kill two birds with one stone:
- By increasing the brand awareness you will make your customer base wider. How to achieve this? Pay attention to the icon of your app since it’s always in sight of your users even when they don’t use the app. Also, encourage consumers to share their experience and thoughts about your restaurant in social networks.
- By increasing the brand loyalty you will establish deeper connections with your consumers. The main tools here are personalized discounts, coupons, events and points that can be exchanged for extra dishes or merch.
So, with the reasons above it seems almost necessary to build an app if you want to increase sales, generate repeated visits to your restaurants and, of course, keep your customers satisfied (and your business is all about them, right?). Let’s move on to the features that your app should contain to win the love of exacting mobile users.
⚙️ Features: what do mobile ordering apps for restaurants consist of?
The list of your app features depends on specifics of your restaurant business. For example, if you own a chain of fast food restaurants like Taco Bell the table booking feature isn’t the one users will be looking for in your app. On the other hand, if you want to create a restaurant app for casual dining, this feature may be the reason why many users actually use your app.
In this article I’m going to review features that are important for different kinds of restaurant businesses, so let’s get started!
Restaurant info: let’s get acquainted
The first impression is always the most important one. Don’t waste the time of your consumers and make sure the first screen they see is not only beautiful and eye-catching but also offers some value them. What value can you offer them right away?
- A brief description of your restaurant (what cuisines you offer or what is so special about your eatery).
- Its location (if you have many, tell the user about the closest to him).
- Working hours (don’t forget to mention a delivery service, if you have one and its working hours are different).
Also, don’t forget to provide consumers with the fast access to the other main features (like a menu, table booking and delivery service) from this screen.
Menu screen: what’s for dinner?
The menu is definitely going to be the second most viewed screen after the mentioned above one so it is a very important part of restaurant app development. The perfect UX and UI at this stage is your powerful tool to influence users’ behavior and incline them to book a table or make an online order.
What about features? It’s pretty clear that this screen is nothing more than the list of dishes with descriptions, bright photos and prices. Yet, that’s not all.
Don’t leave your consumers in a mess where desserts are shown near steaks and hamburgers neighbor avocado salads. Categories are indispensable navigation tool for any restaurant mobile app.
Sometimes users may be looking for a specific dish (or its price). With the searching feature they have no need to surf through the categories list and then through all the items in the selected category.
Despite this feature doesn’t seem like a very important at first sight, many users will delete your app if they have to spend too much time on searching on their own. You don’t want this, do you?
Dishes and meal sets with discounts or free extra items are known as a great marketing tool for a long time. Take advantage of it too: place the section with special offers so as your users can easily see and reach it!
Do you know what this feels like when you want something yummy, but do not know what exactly? Your customers know this feeling too. So as they never have such a trouble in your app, implement suggestions!
You can form them according to the user’s previous orders or the most common buyer patterns.
Filters & Sorting
Filters allow to exclude from the screen items that don’t fit users requests. For example, your customers can browse only those dishes which “cost no more than...” or don’t include any meat (vegetarians, hello).
Sorting is another tool for managing a menu. By choosing any specific parameter (price, ongoing discounts, popularity etc.) users can change the order in which dishes are shown.
Booking a table: 2 main approaches
This feature may be meaningless if you offer customers fast or takeaway food (like McDonald’s, Taco Bell, KFC and so on). However, if your restaurant is focused on serving food indoors the booking feature is definitely a must-have.
There are 2 approaches that restaurant mobile app developers can follow:
- The first one is more common and convenient for the restaurant owners but less interactive and user-centered. In this case, to leave a reservation request customers have to decide on a restaurant, date and time, but they can’t choose the exact table. It’s chosen by your staff according to your own interests and logic.
- The second one allows users to choose the exact table they want to book by tapping on it on the interactive floor map.
Tip: let your users order beverages or appetizer along with making a reservation, so they can have a bite at the arrival.
Food delivery: cover the whole city with a single restaurant
While the booking feature is necessary for casual dining restaurants and not so important for fast food stores, the situation with the delivery services is reverse. For example, let’s take a pizza. According to The Pizza Joint, about 83% of pizza franchise units in the US offer delivery, but only 51% offer dine-in service.
Honestly, food delivery is a pretty complicated process that requires consistent and detailed planning. There are a lot of issues to consider, for example:
- Are you going to hire own delivery guys or use freelance drivers?
- Will you build one more app specially for drivers or supply them with all instructions in the restaurant before they leave?
As you can see, this topic deserves a separate article. Luckily, we already have one for you! Check it out here.
Checkout & payment process: a high-risk zone
It’s the last step before your hungry clients exchange their hard-earned money for tasty burgers, juicy steaks, healthy salads or other yummy dishes. It may erroneously seem that if a customer has gone so far, he will definitely finish his order. E-Commerce Checkout’s research shows us that:
- 24% of respondents have abandoned their orders at the checkout stage because they couldn’t see the total order cost.
- 27% also complained that the reason why they haven’t completed their orders is a “too long/complicated checkout process”.
How to avoid these mistakes? Check out our top tips for you:
- Try to make the checkout & payment process as fast and easy as you can. It’s also needless to say about the critical importance of the perfect UX and UI at this stage.
- Always show the final sum your users are going to pay, including taxes and other expenses.
- Make it easy for a user to add/delete items in his cart with a single tap.
- Provide several payment options: a credit card, Apple Pay/Android Pay, Paypal and, of course, don’t forget about a cash payment option.
- Don’t ask to sign up before processing the payment. You can lose about 35% of the customer because of it.
Push notifications: keep in touch with your users
We all know what a push notification is. It’s a customized message that pops up on your screen even when you’re not using the app.
In my opinion, push notifications may be the most underestimated feature when when we’re talking about the restaurant app development. We’ve already learned how they can influence your business, so in this paragraph I want to pay more attention to the technical side of this issue.
Let’s find out how to create a powerful and engaging push notifications for your restaurant mobile app with 6 tips from Stormotion developers:
- Be brief: push notifications under 25 characters have the highest conversion rates.
- Target your users when they are near your restaurants.
- Let yourself sometimes be funny and informal.
- Pay more attention to personalized push notifications (a burgers lover is more interested in information about burgers, and not about sushi).
- Take advantage of what’s happening around you: invite customers to celebrate Valentine's Day in your restaurant or order chicken wings from you while watching UEFA Champions League matches.
- Enhance your push notifications with an image or an emoji.
So, the features above (except table booking and delivery features) make up an MVP of your restaurant app. But if you want to improve the app and achieve the even greater UX, you can also implement a number of additional features. Let’s review them too!
The great advantage of mobile apps is personalization, and profiles are all about it! On the one hand, they let users save their customized settings, provide them with an access to loyalty programs, keep information about their previous orders and so on. On the other hand, you can use collected information about users to analyze your target audience and make wise data-driven decisions.
You can also enrich users’ experience with the following features:
- Bookmarks. Used by customers to save their favorite dishes.
- Wishlist. Allows users to mark dishes they want to buy in hope that someone else will pay for them.
- History. Keeps information about past orders with the possibility to reorder them with a few steps (for example, Taco Bell app offers its users just to rotate the mobile phone to reorder the last order).
Credibility means a lot for modern customers. That’s why many businesses use artists and sportsmen for advertising. However, people are more tend to believe someone who they know or, at least, who has a lot in common with them. Seeing positive reviews from your other customers may incline them to make a purchase.
This feature plays a huge role in building brand loyalty. But how to turn your visitors into regular customers and encourage them to make bigger orders? For this purpose you can use:
- Points. Users can gain them by making purchases in your restaurant, visiting events and so on. Later they can exchange these points for free dishes, merch or other benefits.
- Coupons. Provide customers with discounts (commonly) or special offers (like “buy a dish and get a free drink”).
- Events. Keep in touch with the community and inform them about special events that take place in your restaurant on near.
The feature is simple as that: just a button that allows a user to call you with one tap. Despite people hate making calls (and it’s another reason to build an app), some may find it convenient.
So it seems we have reviewed both essential and additional features used to build a mobile app for restaurants. How much would it cost you? You’re about to find out! But before that I would like to share with you a list of tech tools that will come in handy during the development.
🔧 Tech tips from Stormotion Developers
- eThor API allows you to connect your POS system with the application.
- So as to gather reviews about your restaurant you can use TripAdvisor Content API (tourist reviews) or Expert Review API (expert reviews).
- Remember about suggestions and related items? Qloo API is designed to generate such matching recommendations.
- Resy API can be used to provide customers with the reservation system. Moreover, it includes information on floor plans and allows user to choose the exact table they want to book.
- We have also advised you offering your clients several payment options. For this purpose you can use Android Pay API, Apple Pay API and API by PayPal.
Finally, you are going to find out development costs, so read on!
💰 What is the cost to develop a restaurant app?
Let’s start with the MVP-part of your app:
Thus, costs to build an MVP of restaurant app start from 16,480$. However, it’s only a rough estimate, so if you want to get the exact estimation of your app project, contact us. We will understand your business case and send the estimation to you within 24 hours!
What about the additional part?
Thus, the final costs to build a full restaurant app with a great number of cool features start from 21,200$.
Note: we took an average rate of $40/hour but it depends on many different factors so don't think of it as the final price.
As for the costs of the BackEnd part development, it can be divided into 3 parts:
- Development of the Server Side of the project;
- Development of the Dashboard for project administrators;
- API for connecting the application with BackEnd.
It’s difficult to tell you the exact time which development of the BackEnd part and the Dashboard will take since it significantly depends on integration with your POS and CRM systems. Therefore, in this article we assume that the development of this part can take from 150 to 400 hours.
🔎 Case study: Taco Bell, The Capital Grill
What about examples? Today I’m going to tell you about two pretty good restaurant apps in different business categories - Taco Bell (a fast food restaurant) and The Capital Grill (a casual dining restaurant). Read on!
Taco Bell’s app: bright & user-friendly
We’ve already learned how a mobile app managed to boost Taco Bell’s sales but what about the app itself? Is there something noticeable?
First of all, the app has a really cool UI. It contains a minimum of text and a maximum of beautiful, vivid images that without doubt stimulate buyers to make purchases. Because how can you resist when you have tasty tacos, burritos and quesadillas in your sight?
Secondly, I would also like to note a great navigation system. All buttons are big and easy to notice, so users don’t have any problems to find the needed products. By the way, the menu is also well-designed and has an interactive and detailed description of every dish (you can shape it according to your own taste preferences).
The app also has several features that we already mentioned before:
- a screen with special offers;
- the checkout process is fast and contains subtotal sum *(including taxes);
- however, there are few payment options (Taco Bell card or credit card);
- the app provides several options to pick up the food - you can do it in the store or at the drive-through point.
The Capital Grill’s app: upscale & convenient
The Capital Grill’s app has a pretty intriguing and promising name - Virtual Concierge. The application has the elegant design and is aimed at the first-class customer service.
Using The Capital Grill Virtual Concierge app users can:
- Book a table for a lunch or dinner with just two taps.
- Buy and manage a gift card.
- See the list of events.
- Make a fast in-app call.
- View the menu of every particular restaurant as well as its wine list.
- Examine wine and food pairings created by a Sommelier.
Moreover, guys try to take an advantage of ongoing events. Thus, for example, on Valentine’s day they launched an offer called “#ReservationRescue” with the possibility to win “a 7:00 p.m. Valentine's Day reservation and complimentary dinner for two”.
So, we have finally discussed all essential issues of the restaurant app development. As you could see, it’s not so difficult to build your own restaurant app but it can significantly boost your sales and attract new customers. Pay a special attention to features from the MVP-list, learn from the best and keep up with the modern trends!
I hope you find this article interesting and informative. However, don’t hesitate to contact us if you want to discuss the costs to build an app exactly for your restaurant. We are happy to help you!