Patience Tucker, wi-Q's Global Sales Director, explains the importance of thinking beyond Covid-19 and investing in a robust order and pay solution.
How to beat the Wetherspoons app
Are you looking into developing your own mobile ordering solution like the Wetherspoons app? Here's how you can go one better with an app-free solution.
Image credit: JD Wetherspoon
How to beat the Wetherspoons app in the mobile ordering race
Investors in JD Wetherspoon have been toasting mobile ordering innovation ever since the launch of the market-leading pub and hotel chain’s Order & Pay app. The Wetherspoons app, which enables customers to order food and drink from their seats has been a hit with customers, leading to an ‘exceptional’ surge in sales.
Popularly known as ‘Spoons’, JD Wetherspoon has become a go-to venue for affordable food and drink, operating 900 pubs, more than 50 hotels, and turning over more than £1.6bn annually.
It’s fair to say that JD Wetherspoon has contributed quite significantly to the mobile ordering revolution in the UK, albeit with a native app (more on that later). The Wetherspoon Order & Pay app, promoted since its induction as a way to eliminate queueing with device to table ordering, has been an undeniable hit with customers.
Return on Investment
Analysts at the German investment bank, Berenberg, commented on Wetherspoon’s payment innovation, stating, “Penetration of its mobile app has begun to drive exceptional [comparable sales] growth, which seems likely to continue in the near term, mitigating any immediate margin risk.”
Since the launch of its Order & Pay app back in March 2017, Wetherspoon’s share price has jumped from 929.50 (on 22/03/17) to a record high of 1,325.00 (12/03/18). January 2018, revenue grew by 3.6% to £830.4m, whilst the group’s like-for-like sales rose by 6.1%.
The app delivers everything we love about mobile ordering: no queueing for service at the bar, family-friendly ordering; fingertip access to promotions and a reorder option avoiding the awkward ‘sorry this seat is taken’ while your friends are ordering at the bar.
At wi-Q Technologies, we applaud JD Wetherspoon for their Order & Pay app and the contribution it has made to the adoption of mobile ordering technology. However, the market is ready for much more than native apps, and wi-Q is working ahead of the trend – here’s why…
The Wetherspoons app Vs wi-Q
Let’s compare the Wetherspoons app with wi-Q’s web-based, mobile ordering and engagement platform.
Investment: Custom app development vs low-cost SaaS
It’s apparent that the Wetherspoons app has been produced at some cost. Whilst we do not know the exact amount, we believe that a six-figure budget would be a conservative estimate. Whilst it has obviously paid off for Wetherspoons, app engagement is far from guaranteed and will require an equally large marketing budget. What if customers aren’t aware of the solution, or simply don’t download and keep the app? The app marketplaces – such as Apple’s App Store – are extremely saturated. Customers are spoilt for choice, and it is unlikely that any mobile ordering app can compete in utility against the likes of Pokemon Go or Netflix.
Compare that to wi-Q’s web-based mobile ordering platform, which is delivered through a low-cost software as a service (SaaS) model, with little or no cap-ex and rapid deployment. All of the development work is already complete and the platform, thanks to its app-free customer journey, is experiencing growing engagement rates in live venues around the world.
Customer Experience: App download vs instant access
Downloading the Wetherspoons app won’t be such a concern for ‘Spoons’ regulars, but for the casual user, locating, downloading and updating the app becomes a repetitive long-winded process and often takes longer than waiting for service. In addition, the app will inevitably require updating – all whilst taking up storage space on users’ devices. Whilst, this is perhaps manageable for one native app, imagine if every major pub and restaurant chain had their own? The average UK consumer would have to manage a portfolio of different apps in order to readily access the benefits of mobile ordering.
For a wi-Q customer, access to menus is delivered instantly, with no requirement to download, update or store a native mobile app. It takes just three keystrokes and less than 10 seconds for customers to access wi-Q’s mobile ordering menu. A traditional native app, on the other hand, takes a timely 27 keystrokes and over one minute to download and sign up for – which is enough to put your customers off mobile ordering in your venue.
wi-Q does not force customers to create an account to order as we believe this is an unnecessary barrier to engagement. This rule can, however, be overwritten if requested by a venue.
wi-Q’s brand customisable interface is designed to look and feel like the traditional, native apps that customers have used before. However, looks can be deceiving and its web-based nature affords it many advantages. The platform is the ultimate in instant ubiquitous technology, with live integrations with the leading POS and PMS providers – including Oracle Hospitality – and multiple payment options from Visa to BitCoin.
Wetherspoon’s Order & Pay app is only available to its users in English.
wi-Q in comparison can support over twenty-six languages – including Chinese and Arabic, which are both read from right to left. In addition, our intelligent platform can identify which language the customer’s device natively uses. It then – assuming it has the corresponding language loaded – automatically translate everything into that customer’s native language. At worst, customers can choose a language that they are more familiar with, typically leading to more engagement and increased revenue from international customers.
Usability: Product Filters
A key feature of wi-Q – and its sister-solution for hotel guest services, Mi-Room – are its product filters. Internationally, we are aware that every individual consumer has different tastes and requirements concerning their refreshments. Our advanced product filtering allows customers to whittle down (sometimes extensive) menus to show only desired options. Whether it’s a requirement concerning religious beliefs (Halal, Kosher), or you want to consume only vegetarian/vegan produce, or if you react to any of the ’14 Major Allergens’, you will be able to sort through these options with speed.
In comparison, the Wetherspoons app only gives options for products to be filtered to show vegetarian or vegan options but does also include a sliding calorie counting filter.
Why choose web-based mobile ordering?
To conclude, there are several benefits of web-based mobile ordering for the hospitality provider:
- The solution is already developed and live in venues around the world. To ‘go-live’ wi-Q only need your menus, logos and brand guidelines.
- Real-time updates to menus (including pricing) via an intuitive backend.
- Management and ROI reporting facilities.
- Support for menu scheduling and special offers
- Support for delivery and collection – inside and outside of the venue.
- The option to host multiple languages.
- The ability to integrate data-driven marketing tools. This will allow venues to personalise the menu and offers to customers over time.
- wi-Q and Mi-Room require little or no capital expenditure. The two services are charged on a revenue-based, SaaS pricing model.
- wi-Q and Mi-Room’s capabilities will continue to grow and have an exciting product roadmap including more integrations, add-ons and even emerging technologies such as conversational commerce.
- For hotels, in particular, Mi-Room presents an opportunity to deliver an end-to-end guest experience incorporating: door unlocking, instant messaging, spa, experiences and concierge services.