Creating a mobile app is quickly becoming table stakes for the QSR industry, and the question brands must ask themselves has shifted from “Do we need a mobile app?” to “What will set our mobile app apart from others?”
For some brands, this differentiation comes in the form of added value intended to spike initial downloads, while others, like Mediterranean restaurant Cava, seek to gain a competitive edge by offering streamlined and intuitive ordering, and leveraging the resulting customer data in constructive ways.
“There are lots of ‘order-ahead’ apps but restaurant technology is typically clunky and unreliable for both customers and operators. We wanted to change that,” said Brett Schulman, CAVA Group CEO. “Our app mirrors the in-store experience allowing people to make customize their meal just as they would if they were ordering from our staff in-store.”
Beyond the CX improvements provided by the app itself, the resulting personalization will permeate the in-store experience and allow for a better overall customer experience. For example, the brand hopes to use preferences and rewards history to greet customers personally and offer them personalized rewards with tablets used by team members at the point of food pickup.
While the app offers an all new channel through which customers can interact, customize, and pay, the brand wants to avoid placing undue pressure for loyal guests to immediately switch their method of ordering.
“We are not a brand of the 1 percent, we’re a brand of the 100 percent,” said Schulman. “We want to bring better and healthier food to everyone, no matter whether you pay in cash or through the app, whether you live in a city center or in the suburbs.”
With QSR continuing down the path of complete customization popularized by Chipotle, mobile apps in the industry have become a challenge to fulfill this in-store experience of picking and choosing precisely what goes into the order. This mirroring of in-store ordering was a top priority for Cava and, if all goes according to plan, it will create a new layer of personalization that will engage customers and spark a strong base of loyal diners.

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