Americans love french fries, and consumers tend to be particular when it comes to handing over money for their favorite form of potatoes. And while app-enabled food ordering from fast food favorites offers the promise of hot, fresh meals, on-demand results haven't lived up to expectations, especially when it comes to fries. Ask consumers about their top issues with app-enabled food delivery and pickup, and common themes will emerge. As noted by Medium, "customers complain about long delivery times and cold and unenjoyable food." Even the most iconic of franchise restaurants are struggling with this problem. As noted by Eater, while many companies have improved the speed (and overall temperature) of its delivered food, they still haven't cracked the problem of soggy fries. Enter contextual communications, and more specifically communication APIs, to the crispy fry rescue.
Geofence Me In: The New Consumer Mobility
Solving the soggy fries pandemic starts by recognizing the primacy of positive user experience; as noted by Forbes, 86 percent of senior marketers point to cohesive customer journeys as critical for retail success. This means allowing consumers to order what they want, when they want it, and assuring them that their food will be hot, fresh, and waiting when they arrive. In a mobile-first world, organizations need some way to keep track of consumers (with their permission) so they know exactly when to start cooking.
Fortunately, it already exists: it's called geofencing. And Vonage customers are already taking advantage of geofencing by leveraging Nexmo, the Vonage API platform.
Here's the crash course: Geofencing enables location-based alerts via company apps that track user smartphones. What does this mean in practice? Companies build code into mobile apps that use GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi, or cellular data to trigger specific actions when devices cross a virtual boundary known as a geofence. GPS is the most common method; developers utilize application programming interfaces (APIs) that leverage common location services such as Google Maps to create digital boundaries around specific sites.
For fast food restaurants, this might mean creating a circular perimeter two miles around the store. When customer smartphones cross the digital barrier, orders are automatically added to the kitchen queue, enabling companies to much more closely match arrivals with just-out-of-the-fryer timing. The result? A customer can order anywhere, anytime, but so long as they agree to use app-based geofencing, their order isn't started until they're just a few minutes away. It's a win-win for companies: Consumer mobility increases along with overall satisfaction.
App-enabled ordering is here to stay as mobile devices become an increasingly integral part of daily life. For restaurants and other retail stores to capitalize on this trend, however, empowered consumer mobility must be at the forefront.
Innovation in Practice
Goefencing also has other valuable tools for building a customer's relationship to a brand. As noted by Biz Tech magazine, companies can also leverage geofencing to "identify repeat customers and reach out to them with special offers." Even better, it can help grab customers from the competition. Consider this scenario: Draw a geofence around nearby competitor restaurants then push special offers to users' phones when they cross the boundary, ideally drawing them back to your restaurant.
Geofencing can help build brand relationships by engaging customers with location-based follow-up: Once the app detects a consumer's arrived somewhere (perhaps at home or a friend's house) and remained stationary for a specific period of time, push a text message looking for feedback on food quality and overall experience. And since, according to Inc., 84 percent of consumers consider online reviews as important as the reccomendation of a friend, reviews can be important tools for selling fries.
How APIs fit in
On the tech side of the equation, building an application capable of geofencing means leveraging communications APIs designed to layer seamlessly with other cloud-based technology and tie into popular mapping services. APIs are a set of routines, protocols and tools that developers use to make it easier to build and customize software applications. Easy is the operative word here. For example, Google is happy to provide APIs that allow easy Maps interaction and modification, including the creation of geofences. Worth noting? To enhance the customer experience, geofencing isn't enough in isolation.
Instead, consider it a subset of the larger communications platform as-a-service (CPaaS) provider shift, which sees companies tapping cloud-based technologies to empower cross-channel, real-time communication. Vonage was able to help a large national fast food company tackle the problem of soggy fries by leveraging Nexmo, the Vonage API platform. Here's how it works: A consumer leverages a custom-built application to start the food ordering process and interact with a chatbot to confirm special instructions for their meal. Next, they're tracked across a geofence boundary to provide just-in-time food preparation. Finally, time and location trackers provide avenues for follow-up that are carried out via text, email, or voice depending on the consumer's preference.
Service, Speed, Soggy Fries Solved
App-enabled ordering is here to stay as mobile devices become an increasingly integral part of daily life. For restaurants and other retail stores to capitalize on this trend, however, empowered mobility must be at the forefront. This means implementing geofences to solve the soggy fries problem, layering new apps with location-enabled APIs to empower location detection, and leveraging the benefits of CPaaS to deliver end-to-end customer connection.
Does your business have the personalized, immediate communication capabilities to help you stay ahead of the competition? Learn how Vonage leverages Nexmo communication APIs to help your business gain consumers' attention in new and exciting ways.