Bloomin’ Brands is one of the world’s largest casual dining companies with 77,000 Team Members and more than 1,450 restaurants worldwide. What began with a single Outback Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida has since grown into a family of brands that includes Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, and Aussie Grill by Outback. Together, these unique, Founder-inspired restaurants make up Bloomin’ Brands, Inc. The company has been honored as one of America’s Best Large Employers in 2021.
As a company working to compete in today’s digital age, the challenge was clear and not unlike the challenge facing all companies in this day and age. Changing customer expectations, increased use of digital, and the need to remain competitive while serving customers in any fashion they prefer are all driving factors behind Bloomin’ Brands drive to digital transformation. Ultimately, Bloomin’ Brands wanted to better serve their users by allowing them to seamlessly place curbside or delivery orders, while also allowing customers to join and utilize their rewards program. Beginning with the company’s signature and largest brand, Outback Steakhouse, the company needed to find a way to quickly advance its digital presence and ability to serve customers outside of the restaurants. Then factor in the complexities and added pressures that COVID placed on the business, and the need to modernize was mandatory. Although Outback did have a dedicated mobile app at the time, it was clunky and linked out to an external site for ordering, the need for a new digital experience was clear. It was apparent that the brand needed to provide a true omni-channel experience and an integrated Dine Rewards experience for guests.
What began with a strategic engagement to chart a plan and a path for digital growth was quickly impacted by the worldwide pandemic that hit the restaurant industry especially hard. The good news is that we were already well on our way to a modernized digital infrastructure for the company, but now the need was more urgent than ever.
We conducted a detailed discovery phase that resulted in a digital product roadmap and lo-fi to hi-fi design concepts for the new and improved Outback Steakhouse mobile experience. Leaning into customer preferences for food delivery and pick up, we prioritized the necessary efforts and integrations to make serving customers possible when no on -remise dining could occur. The team knew mobile ordering was key and that not just any “off the shelf” experience was going to offer the business what it truly needed for many years to come.
As experts in building custom, native mobile experiences, the team at Bottle Rocket moved rapidly to execution to create the new Outback Steakhouse mobile platform that would serve as the foundational basis for the rest of the restaurant concepts to build on in the future.
The new mobile experience includes a new simple, intuitive, and easy-to-use ordering flow, an integrated loyalty experience that is built to encourage loyalty participation and frequency, and is built on a standardized technology and user experience framework that is built for enterprise scalability and flexibility across multiple brands in the future. The streamlined ordering flow is backed by an Olo API integration and offers a recall of recent orders and easy reordering on the platform. New curbside pickup and delivery options are available, and the experience includes strategic prompts for the user to join the new loyalty program powered by Cheetah.
The release of the Outback Steakhouse app set the stage for the digital transformation efforts to come. The revamped app provided a launching pad for the future of digital across all of the Bloomin’ Brands franchise.
In February of 2023, the team launched the new and improved version of Outback.com, built on a Sitecore/Vercel framework, the new site aimed to modernize Bloomin’ Brand’s web infrastructure. This new platform solved immediate performance and maintenance issues, and ultimately positioned them for future differentiation in the market. The new platform allows for other brands inside the Bloomin’ Brands family, such as Carrabba’s Italian Grill, to work with the Bottle Rocket team to launch their new site as well, creating a frictionless experience across all the brands.
As the team looks to the future, further iterations include the integration between the digital and physical dining experience and creating omni-channel messaging and experiences across all platforms and channels. Bloomin’ Brands digital transformation efforts are just beginning, and the future holds many more exciting innovations.
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