Judging from consumer data, the experts are calling it nothing short of a revolution. Founder of OLO online/mobile ordering, Noah Glass, has confirmed that mobile is the fastest growing technology ever today. To date, 60% of Americans carry a smartphone.
Mobile Solutions Need to be Functional
Glass pointed out that many brands are aware of the need to adopt mobile technology as the new engagement platform – referring to the trend as similar to the 1990s when businesses needed to sport a website to be considered as one. The trick then is to come up with a solution with enough functionality to attract needed customer interest.
“…in order for a customer to download that app, you have to provide them with utility,” Glass affirmed. “It has to be functional and useful.”
Over time, this functionality has taken many forms: ordering (e.g., OLO, ONOSYS, ChowNow, EatStreet), payment solutions or mobile loyalty programs (e.g., Leaf, Front Flip).
The Next Big Thing
Debbie Telsey, an executive from Sunrise Marketing, emphasized mobile’s distinct advantage from a loyalty standpoint saying it is the “best way” to touch customers due to its greater accessibility.
Further, Telsey argued that “email is spam” and that “nobody checks it anymore.” For instance, if business is slow like when it rains “you can blast out a text special” to increase sales. She ended with big numbers saying 97 % of mobile users who gets a text message open it within minutes – 4 minutes to be exact.
Mobile Payment to Hit the Roof
The clamor for mobile technology was reaffirmed in recent National Restaurant Association (NRA) by both exhibitor and attendees who were on a consensus: Mobile payment is poised to transform the industry.
Recent moves by NCR Corporation teaming up with LevelUp are strong indications of this trend. The project: Bring LevelUp’s mobile payment/loyalty solutions into NCR’s restaurant POS systems. With 100,000 NCR base locations nationwide, huge is an understatement for this project.
Another enterprise, Heartland Payment Solutions, has decided to team up with LevelUp recently.
Glass laughs off the future saying that in 5 or 10 years from now people may look back at lining up to make a payment not realizing that they have their own “POS machine” in their pocket.
The Future Offers Wider Mobile Options
Although, loyalty and payments are what gets the attention of most enterprises today, there are more options that mobile can offer.
For instance, NoshList just released a waitlist app – texting customers a table is all ready for the taking.
HearTV Zone, for their part, wants to provide customers a way to listen in from any TV in a restaurant eliminating a lot of hassle. Rockbot upped the ante by allowing customers to choose their music while eating.
For those who are picky on their diets, Find me Gluten Free app will lead gluten intolerant customers to the best place to dine out.
Henry Helgeson, CEO of Merchant Warehouse – a company that delivers payment solutions and analytics, emphasized that mobile can drive the search for restaurant space without to resort to line-of-sight. All that customers need to do is to check their phones.
Because of this uptrend, many operators are reaping big benefits, both in the front-end and the back-end of the enterprise. A recent study from IHL Group – a research firm- reveal that mobile POS is going to surpass $2 billion both in hardware and software sales in North America by 2013 alone. By then, 28 percent of retailers in North America will already be into Mobile POS, in one way or the other.
Investors Lining Up
Because of so-many possibilities venture capitalists are jumping onboard, “flooding the market” as Helgeson says.
Today, “people are throwing everything at this right now” labeling mobile as an “ideal solution” both for merchants and for consumers, Helgeson adds.