Another case for small restaurants to embrace mobile Web, apps

Almost two-thirds of consumers responding to a January 2013 survey have used their smartphone or tablet to place an online food order.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

If your small restaurant or food service business hasn't added a mobile Web site or mobile application, it might want to rethink that strategy.

At least two-thirds of consumers responding to a recent survey have used their smartphone or tablet computer to place an online order for either pick-up or delivery, according to data collected in January by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and interactive media company Viggle.

Mind you, many of these orders were for food from big brand-name food services companies: about half of the 573 respondents indicated that they have downloaded at least one restaurant-specific app, such as those developed by Chili's, McDonald's or Pizza Hut. A slightly higher percentage (55 percent) are using a "multi-restaurant" app, such as Yelp, Urbanspoon and Zagat.

The food type makes a difference. Pizza was the hands-down winner, with sandwiches/burgers and Chinese food a distant second, the survey found.

"This research highlights the fact that the mobile Internet is increasingly becoming a vital tool to help consumers navigate their everyday lives - even when it comes to simple tasks such as ordering a pizza," said Anna Bager, vice president and general manager, Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, for IAB, commenting on the research. "Restaurant and fast-food chain marketers should pay close attention to this trend and take advantage of the opportunities that mobile offers, making it a key part of their ad-buying strategy."

At the very least, in my opinion, small food service businesses should look more closely at their own mobile profile or they could find themselves missing out on a big transition.

For some resources related to taking your company mobile (either through a mobile-optimized Web site or a mobile app), here are some of the past articles that I've written about this topic:

4 more mobile app development resources for small businesses
14 DIY mobile app development resources for small businesses
Make the most of your mobile Web site

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