Mobile apps are nothing new. In fact, according to a 2015 survey, 89 percent of the time people spend on media platforms is through mobile apps. Because of their increasing popularity, it should be no surprise that mobile apps have found their way into the food industry through individual restaurant apps. Here are four reason why restaurants should be creating apps:

1.       Loyalty

Mobile-based loyalty programs are much more personal than those that involve a hard-copy punch card. A 2014 study found that, 65 percent of restaurant customers are willing to download a restaurant’s app if it offers exclusive perks or deals, and a whopping 80 percent of those customers will return to the restaurant to redeem.

Effective rewards programs do not have to be elaborate or difficult. Starbucks, for example, has a very simple rewards feature on its app that gives customers a free coffee after they spend a certain amount of money. Beyond giving out points for purchasing items, loyalty programs are also a great way to incentivize customers to refer friends and family to the restaurant.

2.       Easy Reservations and Online Ordering

Apps that allow customers to make reservations without the stress of calling is a sure-fire way to help fill seats. Reserving a table on your phone appeals to costumers because of its convenience.

Online ordering is another valuable feature for any restaurant’s mobile app. Roast Kitchen in New York City has a mobile app that allows consumers to place their lunch order and select their preferred pick-up time so that they can drop by at their convenience and avoid waiting in long lines during the lunch rush.  In fact, my coworkers and I are much more likely to order lunch from Roast Kitchen than almost anywhere else based purely on the ease and convenience of its mobile app!  

3.       Social Sharing

If you want customers to engage with your brand, you’ve got to make it easy on them, right? Mobile apps give diners a convenient platform on which to write reviews, share feedback, or post photos of their experience. Social media is essentially free marketing for restaurants so encouraging people to post regularly through your mobile app is a great way to grow word-of-mouth awareness. Plus, the easier you can make it for a customer to share a good review, the better.  

4.       Push Notifications

Push notifications notify users of new deals, events, or specials, and they allow restaurants to communicate with customers even when the app is not running. Tacolicious in San Francisco started sending out push notifications for its “Margarita Monday” happy hours and now every Monday their bar is fully crowded with people. Tacolicious owner Joe Hargrave said, “We couldn’t be happier with customer response from the Tacolicious app. Online ordering has increased and our Margarita Monday happy hour push notifications filled the house!”

In addition to alerting consumers to upcoming specials and unique events, push notifications serve to just keep your restaurant top-of-mind so that the next time the user is seeking a good place to eat, they’ll know right where to turn.

In a world where cellphones are attached to their owners 24/7, and those owners are spending the majority of their smartphone time on mobile apps, it makes sense that business see a boost when they create their very own applications. There are countless ways to take advantage of these revenue boosters and attract more customers, so it’s a wonder more business haven’t boarded the mobile app bandwagon. You can be confident it won’t be slowing down anytime soon…