As smartphone use continues to rapidly increase, quick-service operators are turning to startup companies to develop mobile ordering applications.
Earlier this week, San Francisco–based La Boulange Café & Bakery announced the launch of its new mobile ordering app created exclusively by the online ordering company OLO.
“Now, instead of having to wait in a long line to order with a cashier—pulling out their credit card or paying cash and going through that process, and then waiting for their food to be prepared—the customers can simply send in an order using online ordering or mobile ordering, schedule what time they want to collect that order at the store … and then they can pre-pay for that order,” says Noah Glass, CEO and founder of OLO.
Several other fast-casual restaurants, such as Boston-based Boloco, Houston-based Bullritos, and Dallas-based Mooyah, as well as quick serves like Sonic and Five Guys Burgers and Fries, have had mobile ordering apps created for them by OLO.
OLO started in 2005 and was one of the first companies in the U.S. to offer mobile ordering. OLO creates an individual ordering app or website exclusively for restaurants and charges a “subscription fee” per store, per month, rather than an upfront fee, Glass says.
“Back when we first rolled it out, it was really state of the art at that point because smartphones didn’t exist yet,” he says. “Now what we have seen is that trends for mobile ordering have switched from text-message ordering to mobile Web ordering, and then now to mobile app ordering.”
Many restaurants using OLO’s mobile ordering system have noticed increases in both average order sizes and sales. Glass attributes these increases to the suggested selling that occurs before customers confirm orders, as well as to the greater frequency of customers using the app due to its convenience.
Though OLO has focused primarily on the fast-casual segment thus far, Glass says all restaurants can benefit from using mobile apps for ordering.
“As more and more customers are walking around with these devices, these smartphones, in their pockets, it means that there is a huge application across all types of restaurants to utilize them in a smart way, improve the customer experience, and make the operation more efficient,” he says.
By Laurel Nakkas