3 Frictionless Features of Successful QSR and C-store Mobile Apps

Brittany Mills
Publication Date
8 April 2021

3 Frictionless Features of Successful QSR and C-store Mobile Apps

Due to consumer demand for more convenience, pressure to keep customers engaged is increasing in quick service restaurants (QSR) and convenience stores. Adding to this pressure is the global pandemic, which accelerated the need for convenience in a wholly new way, largely through the use of contactless and digital solutions.

To sustain business and delight customers, convenience stores and quick service restaurants must continue to evolve their offerings to keep up with the digital demand, helping them survive during the pandemic and thrive long after.  This means creating a successful retail mobile app, for starters.

Customers want mobile apps 

Before COVID, mobile apps with curbside pickup technology and online ordering were used most often by the digitally savvy population. But since the start of the pandemic, many people, of all demographics and skill levels, have shifted to using mobile apps for retail – including everything from picking up groceries, to ordering food, and even banking. 

In a Mobiquity survey, we found:

  • 50% of respondents said they’ve used an app to order groceries
  • 62% used an app to order food
  • 15% of respondents reported using a mobile app to pay for fuel, and 53% agreed that they’d like to use a mobile app to complete payment at a gas station
  • 44% of consumers agreed they were more likely to purchase from a c-store with curbside than one without

With mobile apps becoming the standard for so many actions – placing an order, payment, and even pick up or delivery – retailers need to optimize their mobile app now to ensure they are meeting customers’ expectations and retaining their loyalty.

So what makes successful mobile apps? Let’s explore the top 3 features your app should add or improve for a better customer experience strategy.

3 Frictionless features you should add or improve in your mobile app right now

Did you know that half of your customers will not download a mobile app that has less than 4 stars? Therefore, it’s important to consider the factors that will boost your rating to engage your customers during mobile app creation (or ongoing enhancements). 

So what are the features of a 4+ star app? In our custom research, we discovered these 3 features were the common thread between high-functioning, positively reviewed QSR and convenience store mobile apps.

  1. Easy-to-Use and Convenient Mobile Ordering Application

Sounds obvious, right? Not so fast. Sometimes companies focus too much on the front-end design, forgetting about the back-end development, forcing customers to do a lot of digging and manual work to take actions like ordering, payment, and menu exploration.

On the flip side, some companies focus too much on back-end development, forgetting about front-end design, leaving the user interface to be unattractive and unlikely to see customer adoption.  

Knowing this, it’s important to blend easy experience with convenience during ecommerce app development. Here is how we recommend you approach this task:

Convenience: If it isn’t easy to access, navigate, and order, it will be difficult to get engagement. If you’re going to offer curbside pickup, making previous orders available and easy to reorder with one touch is one way that 4+ star apps reel in positive reviews. It’s convenient, and makes ordering your “go-to” item simple.

An engaging user interface: Yes, your brand is important and should be included in the experience – but, if the interface is hard to navigate and explore, users will drop off of your app and give their loyalty to one with a better user experience. Is it hard to find the menu? Difficult to save favorites? These are things you need to consider.

Our research shows that positive mobile ordering experiences include these features:

  • Easy to order
  • Customization
  • Fast pick up

And negative mobile ordering applications experience these frictions:

  • Menu customizations are not available
  • Can’t remove or edit items easily
  • Can’t place order due to bug
  • In-app expectations around pick-up times don't match the actual experience
  1. Rewards, Loyalty Points, and Special Deals

Retaining customers is a lot easier with a rewards and loyalty program in your mobile app. One company that does this particularly well is Starbucks. Current reports note that mobile app rewards memberships are up to 16.8 million users. All this momentum has driven some noteworthy increases in sales. Members of the mobile rewards program actually generated 41% of United States sales for that quarter alone. 

By running contests, games, and loyalty rewards programs to your target audience, customers get exclusive access to product or service incentives that keep them engaged, which is one way Starbucks is dominating the market. By gamifying the experience, customers actually want to come back and buy more and more frequently. Getting to the next level in the game or winning a contest to earn that free cup of coffee or baked treat is satisfying. 

These features and special app promotions can also help you track app adoption. For example, Starbucks offers drink happy hours on certain days at certain times, but these offers are only available to app users. Implementing a feature like this enables you to collect data, better understand who’s using your app and how, and utilize artificial intelligence to reward them via personalized offers.

  1. Contactless Payments

Payment is a big feature that mobile apps for retail business must get right. If customers can’t easily pay for their items via the app, that app becomes null and engagement plummets, which is often reflected in customer feedback in the app store. 

Thinking about how you want to make the purchasing experience easier is a step you don’t want to overlook. Will you integrate Apple Pay and Google Pay? Will you allow customers to save their credit card info for easier check out? Planning for these experiences by creating cx strategies that will save the customer from running into challenges when they are ready to buy is key to successful apps.

Other struggles that low rated apps have experienced include:

  • No ability to load your credit card directly into the app (users must preload money onto the organization’s card instead)
  • Not having the ability to tip in the app
  • Not seeing receipts for proof-of-purchase
  • Not having the ability to pay via mobile, such as ApplePay

On the other hand, 5-star apps that embrace payment options actually make it easier than paying with cash or a credit card. One way to do this is to offer users a way to save their preferred payment method in the app so they never have to think about it. Simply “confirm and pay” and you’re done. That’s customer centric.

By implementing these frictionless features in your mobile app, you’ll spark positive customer experiences that pay off for your organization, in more ways than one. While we hope these tips were helpful, this is just the tip of the iceberg! 

For a pdf version of these tips, click below.

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If you’d like to see custom research on how your app compares to your competitors’ retail apps, or if you have questions or want to learn more, contact us today to start a conversation.

Looking to digitally transform your convenience store? Download our playbook for creating seamless digital customer experiences to get started.

Ready to digitally transform your restaurant? Download our playbook for creating seamless digital customer experiences to get started.


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