How Restaurant Brands Are Betting Big on Digital

Restaurants may have been around for thousands of years, but modern expectations have caught up with them.

At a recent investor conference in New York, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz outlined their plans for sustaining growth and strengthening the value of the brand. He made six specific announcements for improvements, and four of them were all related to investment in digital technology.

restaurant marketing

Starbucks is but one of many huge brands out there reinventing themselves or strengthening their market share by embracing technological solutions. By using restaurant funding through financial lending partners, these brands can invigorate their sales and amp up their appeal in an increasingly digital-focused, millennial-driven economy.

Read on to learn some of the big ways brands are embracing digital technology and data to grow and thrive.

Mobile Ordering

A boom in third-party ordering and delivery apps has worked its way through the restaurant industry over the past few years, but brands are increasingly building their own apps to create a streamlined, branded and controlled experience.

McDonald’s bet big on their own mobile ordering app, which they have begun rolling out on a regional basis since earlier this year.

restaurant ordering app

Starbucks is likewise doubling down on its focus for mobile ordering and payment as part of its Starbucks app environment. Company-owned stores have now passed the 8% mark for transactions ordered and paid for completely through mobile. Additionally, over $6 billion was loaded onto prepaid Starbucks Cards, generating guaranteed revenue while solidifying customer loyalty.

Even smaller chains are getting in on mobile ordering. Mighty Quinn’s, a high-end barbecue chain based in New York City, embraced developing their own app even as similar chains jump ship from third-party services.

These apps help bring in additional revenue streams and grow order sizes while making the process more convenient for customers in a hurry.


Many fast-casual chains are embracing “chatbot” AIs to increase the ease of ordering while growing their reach to channels that customers already inhabit. Pizza Hut, for instance, allows customers to order through chatbots on Facebook messenger.

Starbucks is also going all-out with their own ordering system they dub “My Starbucks Barista.” With the app, customers can place orders through voice commands or chat text, and the AI will automatically process the language and confirm the order, even offering upsells.

Reducing friction while expanding ordering capabilities is a solid method for growing sales and evolving a brand image.

Mining Loyalty Data

Loyalty programs used to be a way to essentially bribe customers into retention, but now they serve as so much more than that. Top loyalty program members are not just outspoken brand advocates but also a valuable source of consumer behavior data for driving additional sales.

Starbucks uses their loyalty data to make suggestions for products and upsells to loyalty members in order increase redemption of digital offers and expand incremental revenue per order. They call the approach a “digital flywheel” since it conserves the momentum loyal customers already have.

restaurant loyalty programs

Papa John’s is taking the step even further. Since over 60% of its sales are from digital website and mobile app orders, their CMO is embracing an “ecommerce” approach to operations. By mining data and looking for digital marketing opportunities online, they hope to not only increase market share but grow their customer base beyond habitual pizza orderers.

Invest in Technology with Restaurant Funding As the marketplace surrounding huge national brands evolves, the need to invest in digital solutions — and workspaces that can accommodate their use — will grow.

If you are interested in investing in technology tools to help your business evolve and expand, then take a look at restaurant loans and other financing products offered through ARF Financial. You can find the perfect product for you and receive a free, no-obligation quote in as little as 48 hours when you click here today!