February 14, 2017

QSR Mobile Experiences Customers Want

When our partnership with Chick-fil-A bolstered the most successful B2C restaurant loyalty program in the U.S., we traced what created the special something that compelled 4 million users to download their app. It was a combination of a native, custom-built app with a thoughtful mobile strategy. In this post, we’re looking at one aspect of loyalty success: the mobile experience.

The quick and easy answer a lot of brands employ to get their loyalty program in front of customers is a pre-made, out-of-the-box app. But, if you’re serious about accelerating the growth of your quick service restaurant (QSR), you’ll need to deliver a customer experience as rich and unique as your dining experience.

Build Customer Loyalty

If you’re still unsure about loyalty apps improving your QSR brand, think of your customers. You can simplify their orders and payment, ultimately impacting your restaurant experience. When you reduce customer friction in-store, they come back. According to Paytronix, that can mean a 4% increase in revenue from a 20% increase in return customer sales. As younger generations develop brand loyalty, your earning potential through a mobile experience also grows. Millennials are more than twice as likely to pay higher prices if they earn rewards.

Placing a logo in a pre-built template may get your loyalty app out there quickly, but now you face another dilemma. What is unique to your brand in the hands of customers? If you’re using a template, your customers will be opening an app with the same interface, providing the same experience as their competitors. Your brand is worth more when the mobile experience is unique.

Develop Native Apps

We know increased average ticket size is a primary reason for wanting a branded loyalty app. Just look at Taco Bell, whose app-based ticket size were approximately 30% higher than those in store. But there are more benefits to your business than more money (though more money is pretty sweet).

When a mobile app adds another sales channel, the customer experience and your backend operations align. Customers can place and pick up orders without cook time affecting wait time…with the right app, of course. Bottle Rocket develops natively for each device our partners’ customers prefer. Since we work closely with brands during development, we build custom apps to address present and future business and customer needs. This sounds like a given for a mobile experience, but not every major brand boasts a custom native app. A recent study revealed of the top 100 chain restaurant brands, 34 don’t provide a native app for customers. More than 10 other brands’ apps were used so sparingly that they didn’t qualify for the study.

Think Beyond the App

We’re successful in building native loyalty apps for QSR partners, but we’ve been around long enough to know customers will soon demand other mobile experiences to simplify their lives.

Ordering online from home or the office is great, but from the parking lot in a connected physical space could be better. We’re also developing voice integration, so ordering anywhere involves less labor for customers. As we’ve learned in 2016 from working with our international partners, 27% of customers wanted faster payment and delivery from their QSR brands. To us, mobile means more than phones and tablets, so we’re utilizing car interfaces in drive-through or delivery scenarios to address both customer needs.

Okay, Now What?

QSR brands need mobile experiences to galvanize loyalty programs. If they want to really make an impact, those experiences need to be custom and natively built. You don’t have to take our word for it, though. Just look at your own brand’s success. It certainly wasn’t built by imitating another store’s approach. Ask for a mobile experience as unique as you to give users what they want now and in the future. Download our three principles for QSR mobile experiences to learn how to make that happen.

While you’re at it, fill out the form below to read our approach to mobile loyalty too!

February 8, 2017

Talking Digital Loyalty with Urban Airship

When Urban Airship, an integration partner for our custom apps and TVE and OTT platform, AWE, wants to know what top digital studios are doing, they come to Bottle Rocket.

One of our Business Development brainiacs, Jake Montgomery, joined a panel at Urban Airship’s 2017 kickoff to give them an answer.

“What's hot for us is digital loyalty,” Jake said. He gave this example of digital (aka mobile) loyalty, an aspect of which is delivering incentives and rewards via mobile, for those new to the concept: “Let’s say a customer goes to a coffee shop four times in a week. On the fifth visit that week, you might surprise and delight them with a free coffee, just because.”

That would be pretty sweet, right? Jake explained more of Bottle Rocket’s redefining work on mobile loyalty — you can read his complete remarks on Urban Airship’s blog.

April 8, 2016

The Key to Retaining App Users

By 2017, mobile users will be providing personalized data streams for more than 100 apps and services every day. Want to be one of those 100? Karen Pattani-Hason, Head of Agency & Strategic Alliances NAM at Urban Airship, shares some tips on how to build genuine user loyalty.


5 Methods for Retaining App Users

1. Draw users in with a welcome series.

Offering users a promotion code in your app’s welcome series gets a 300% greater redemption rate than sending the same discount via email.

2. Push, but don’t be pushy.

Apps with push notifications experience 4 times as much engagement as those without, and double the retention.

3. Target your notifications.

Targeting push notifications can increase user engagement by up to 7 times. For example, even one attribute like location can boost customer response by 293%.

 4. Don’t underestimate the power of habits.

“Rituals drive value and repeat visits,” says Pattani-Hason. Just look at the Starbucks app, which has trained customers to expect a “pick of the week” every Tuesday, bringing them back week after week for something they genuinely value.

5. Align your needs and goals with your customer.

What is the value exchange in your app, and where is it happening? “Balance the give and the get,” says Pattani-Hason. “It’s not mobile first, it’s consumer first.”


Contact us today to learn more about retaining app users and increasing loyalty.


November 10, 2015

Retail and Restaurant Loyalty Programs Integrate With Apple Pay

Apple recently discussed potential use cases for the future of Apple Pay as a convenient alternative to traditional POS transactions.

According to eMarketer, $8.71 billion was spent in 2015 using mobile payments. That number is expected to grow 210% to $27.05 billion in 2016. An estimated 37.5 million consumers are predicted to adopt it by 2016, expanding the number of overall users 61.8%. As more users assimilate mobile pay – and the technology grows – unique opportunities will appear for businesses to use Apple Pay for more than just payment.

The most prospective development will apply to retail and restaurant loyalty programs. When customers swipe their reward cards at establishments like Walgreens, a push notification will appear on iOS 9 and watchOS 2 devices asking to add their loyalty card to their wallet. When they make future purchases, that loyalty card will automatically pull up when they use Apple Pay. This advancement will not only add more convenience on the consumer side but also save them time.

Other opportunities include push notifications through Apple Pay. When a customer holds their phone up to the POS system, they will receive a notification about a potential discount before they purchase with their loyalty card.

Apple Pay has expanded to work with 50 banking partners. Discover is currently one of the best in class use case for provisioning a credit card from a native app to work with Apple Pay. With the increasing number of features for Apple Watch, using Apple Pay and loyalty programs will become automatic and more convenient for the user.

If you are one of the several companies seeking Apple Pay options for your business, contact us. We’re happy to start a conversation with you about what steps your company need to get involved with Apple Pay.

May 13, 2015

Key Takeaways for Mobile App Loyalty from SPG

Loyalty and reward programs deliver loads of expected perks. But what about the total mobile app user experience? Surely more is possible with a loyalty mobile app than pushing coupons and logging reward points.

Following the path of true customer value offers rewards of a different kind. For both customers and businesses alike.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts is a great example of a brand that demonstrated that a user journey focus is a real linchpin to success. Such an approach was inherent in the development and deployment of SPG Keyless, the Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®) loyalty and rewards mobile app.

SPG Keyless is the hospitality industry’s first truly mobile and keyless entry system. In essence, it allows guests to use their smartphones as a key at Aloft, Element and W Hotels around the world. In addition to a smoother, more efficient hotel experience, the app ultimately resulted in a revolutionized user experience.


Here are three key takeaways on loyalty app success we can learn from Starwood Hotels & Resorts:

Takeaway #1: Your customer holds the answer

The Starwood team surveyed travelers and guests. The survey revealed two key benefits of major importance with users. First, personalization and customization. Users wanted control over their own individual room preferences, and the SPG® mobile app delivered down to the last detail. Want a room with a view? No problem. Need to be close to the elevator? You got it.

The second desired benefit was saving time. Transforming a smartphone into a room key at over 1000 locations in 100 different countries accomplished exactly that. Oh, did we mention it also gives you the ability to skip front desk check-in? That’s a time saver we can all appreciate.

Takeaway #2: Leverage inherit assets

The SPG mobile app held a major advantage over others in the space: the Starwood-owned physical locations themselves. This proved an ideal environment for beta testing. It also provided a wealth of feedback from users, guests, travelers and the hospitality staff (associates) as well.

All of these factors played a vital role in the utility the SPG mobile app ultimately delivered. In fact, freeing associates of many transactional duties helped them become true brand ambassadors for Starwood and its related properties.

Takeaway #3: Lead, follow or get out of the way

Starwood could have taken the safe route. Offered some nice amenities and simply “me too” the app design. They didn’t. And we as the developers of the mobile app didn’t either. That doesn’t mean there weren’t obstacles or challenges. There were plenty. Security issues had to be considered, and an extensive process for cataloging room amenities had to be developed, to name a few. In short, the SPG team delivered far more than just a loyalty app.

They provided a key brand difference and reason to choose Starwood over other properties.


What’s your experience (be honest) with loyalty and rewards programs?

Share your feedback in the comments on what’s worked or what frustrates you. (See we can do surveys too!) Need guidance on your next mobile app design project? Contact us and let’s talk.

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