By Christine Kern, contributing writer
Order and pay ahead options should speed up service and offer convenience
According to Scott Hudler, VP of Global Consumer Engagement, Dunkin' Donuts will join the small but growing roster of QSR brands trying out mobile ordering, allowing its guests to order and pay ahead with an objective of speeding up service and offering more convenience.
Hudler provided some details about the company's mobile ordering test during Dunkin' Brands' investor day last week in Dallas.
Testing will commence during the fourth quarter, including an anticipated app update to support ordering in the beginning of 2015.
"With the growth of mobile and all of the great things it can do today that we couldn't do two years ago, mobile ordering is the logical next step," Hudler said. "For the consumer, there is a huge benefit to skip the line, and improve order accuracy and speed. For us, there's the throughput and anything we can do to improve throughput we're excited about."
Dunkin's mobile app was first introduced in 2012, marked by a special anniversary celebration that included a Twitter Sweepstakes in 2013.There have since been more than 8.6 million downloads. Hudler said the growing adoption of mobile is presenting unique opportunities for the brand, such as mobile-only and one-to-one promotions.
For example, on previous promotion last year in Philadelphia offered a free coffee to fans if the Eagles won the preceding night. The free coffee coupon was presented in the mobile app. For the first win of the promotion, there were 93,000 redemptions in a single day. The brand has since expanded the mobile-based promotion to other markets.
"Something like this does two things for us: It drives people into our restaurants on a Monday, which is traditionally a slower day. And it forces adoption of the Dunkin' mobile app," Hudler said.
DD Perks, the brand’s loyalty program, also provides plenty of benefits, particularly in the competitive coffee/breakfast space, according to Hudler. Launched in January, the program currently has more than 1.5 million members and is estimated to reach 2.5 million members by January 2015.
"We want to attract those in the digital ecosystem – those who like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, sign up for our emails," Hudler said, with the objective of increasing frequency, expanding dayparts, driving franchisee profitability through tender and increasing ticket spending.
The mobile programs have also allowed the company to gain better data about its most loyal guests, which in turn has allowed it to hone in on its marketing messaging from broad to specific. For example, if 80 percent of a customer's transactions typically come from the week, Dunkin' has a "huge opportunity" to drive them in on the weekends with a special offer.
"We're excited about how we're going to migrate from mass marketing to one-to-one. Digital is the future of our brand," Hudler said.
Hudler also said that currently there are no NFC readers in restaurants to support the mobile payment platforms like Apple Pay, but called Apple's announcement exciting.
"Anyone that makes mobile payments safe, secure and brings it to the masses, that's great news," he said.
CEO Nigel Travis also added that the company takes the stance that the consumer will decide.
"Payment is a changing field. There are questions about equipment and security and a lot of moving pieces," he said. "We are doing a lot of research and will go where the consumer is."