The Industry

Do you really need to create a restaurant app?

Wondering how to create a restaurant app? Stop! What you actually need is a mobile-optimized website—and this tool to help you make it.

People in all industries have been struggling for years to decide which of the exciting new technologies they need to implement for their own businesses.

That goes for restaurants, too.

One question that many a restaurateur has probably asked is this: Do I need to create a restaurant app?

While there are restaurants that have see benefits from creating their own apps, it comes at a cost: Designing, building, and maintaining an app is a complex process that requires a fair amount of technical know-how—and funding.

So here’s a better question: Is there a way for restaurants to gain all the benefits that could come with having a standalone app—without having to create one?

Read on to find out.

Should You Create a Restaurant App?

There are definitely benefits to creating a restaurant app. But do they outweigh the drawbacks? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

pros and cons of creating a restaurant app

Pros of Creating a Restaurant App

It’s a one-stop-shop for your guests (and for you)

When an app is done well, it should provide your guests with everything they need to make a purchase from your restaurant: Location and hours, menus, specials, online ordering and delivery options, and more.

As an added benefit, this makes your guests into a captive audience. You can use special offers to upsell them, and any data that you collect from their browsing and orders can be used to re-market to them later.

You have total control over your brand consistency

When you create a restaurant app, you can make every aspect of it match your restaurant’s branding. With other solutions, like third-party delivery apps, you have much less control over your restaurant’s appearance and branding.

It gives you a direct line to your guests

If you ever have menu changes, events, new specials, or anything else your guests need to know about, a huge advantage of an app is that it gives you a direct line of communication to a lot of guests in one place. One push notification, and your announcement is out on a platform that you know will be seen by the people who love your restaurant.

Cons of Creating a Restaurant App

If you’re an independent restaurant, you probably won’t get many downloads

Think about the apps that you have downloaded on your phone. You probably only download (and keep) apps that you use on a regular basis, right? 

This is normal behavior for smartphone users, and it’s why apps for small or independent restaurants aren’t as feasible as they are for large restaurant chains. If you’re a local restaurant, the people who would download and use your app are already limited to your local population. Consider that many of them won’t want to download an app they won’t use often, and your potential user pool gets even smaller.

Apps are complex and expensive to build and maintain

Here’s a taste of the steps involved in creating a standalone app for your restaurant:

  • Conduct market research.
  • Set your strategy and business goals.
  • Choose a software developer or firm.
  • Choose exact app functionality.
  • Design the app.
  • Test, deploy, fix, and relaunch the app.
  • Collect and analyze user experience feedback.
  • Update, maintain, and enhance the app based on user feedback and advancements in technology.

Needless to say, it’s a complex process. And for restaurateurs who don’t have a lot of technical knowledge in coding or UX design, it can get very expensive very quickly as you hire experts to design and build your app.

Apps aren’t as adaptable as mobile websites

A final major drawback to having a standalone restaurant app is that it’s not a particularly adaptable channel. 

There are different requirements for apps to work with different types of phones and operating systems. Apps need to be specially designed if they’re going to work on more devices than just mobile phones. Typically, apps will not be used on laptops or desktop computers. Creating a restaurant app might actually limit your reach—the opposite of what it’s supposed to do.

Is There Any Alternative to Creating a Restaurant App?

This is the big question: Is there a solution for restaurants that want the benefits of an app, but none of the downsides?

There is. That solution is an effective, mobile-optimized website. A mobile-optimized website offers all the same benefits as a standalone restaurant app: It’s a one-stop shop for your guests, gives you a direct line to communicate with them, and gives you full control over your restaurant’s online appearance and branding.

restaurant app versus a mobile-optimized website

But even better is that it directly solves all of the downsides of creating a restaurant app. 

Websites can be accessed on any web-connected device, whether it’s a smartphone, a tablet, a computer, a wearable, or a smart device. They can also be mobile-optimized so your guests get an app-like experience when they access your site from a phone or tablet (but more on that below).

It’s far less complex and less expensive to build a website than it is to build an app—and the technical knowledge is more accessible, allowing restaurateurs to learn the basics they need to post to and update their sites.

A mobile-optimized website is available online for potential guests to find, no download required; and with the right tools, you can make sure that guests easily find your restaurant’s website on search engines before they find your competitors.

Restaurant Website SEO in a Nutshell

SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and, simply put, it’s a collection of tactics you can use to ensure that your restaurant website shows up first when someone Googles a term related to your restaurant (that could be your restaurant’s name, the type of cuisine you serve, a dish on your menu, or many other things).

SEO is complicated, and changes constantly as Google makes adjustments to its algorithms. But search engines have revealed enough information about how their algorithms work that we know of certain tactics to use when designing websites to give them a better chance of ranking higher than their competition in search results.

But that brings us right back to a big problem with creating a restaurant app: Most restaurateurs aren’t technology experts, so creating a website that’s effective and has great SEO can be complex, time-consuming, and expensive.

That is, unless you have the right tool.

How Popmenu Creates a Mobile-Friendly Website with Enhanced SEO

Busy restaurant owners and managers need an all-in-one tool that will build them a website that’s mobile friendly and SEO optimized. That tool is Popmenu.

Popmenu menu management illustration

Popmenu is an all-in-one restaurant solution that creates an entire digital presence for your restaurant. With dynamic menu technology and a built-in online ordering platform, we give guests everything they need to find your restaurant, see your menu, and place an order—from anywhere and on any device. 

Our restaurant websites are designed to look great on any screen size (unlike PDF menus that force mobile guests to pinch and zoom to see what you have to offer). We know it works, because the average guest spends just 15 seconds on a PDF menu, but spends one minute and 50 seconds on a Popmenu menu.

We also know how to optimize your website so your SEO is on point. We take care of everything—website structure, structured data, sitemaps, backlinks, performance, security, and automated testing — to boost your site’s SEO for you. The median Popmenu user sees a 60 percent increase in online visibility by their third month using the platform. That means more potential guests finding your restaurant online.

But that’s just one small part of what Popmenu offers independent restaurants. With the same platform, you can have dynamic menu design, contactless ordering, simple integration with local delivery networks, automated re-marketing, and so much more — all included in one affordable monthly subscription.

Ready to Take Your Restaurant’s Digital Presence to the Next Level?

Popmenu is the restaurant website builder that gets your restaurant found. Wow guests from their first impression to their final transaction — schedule a Popmenu demo today.

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