Why most foodservice mobile apps fail

Rarely does a conversation go by with my foodservice friends that the topic of mobile apps doesn’t come up.  Most believe they need (or already have) an app, but the value in the investment remains questionable.  Most foodservice apps I’ve seen offer little value — and it’s pretty easy to understand why.

  • The app is nothing more than a digital version of a brochure.  Or simpler version of the company website.  The app doesn’t provide any function beyond what’s readily available elsewhere.  So, what’s the point?
  • Operator customers are the target audience — yet the least likely to need or want an app.  When’s the last time you downloaded an app from a company offering a product for which you’re interested?  Betcha not very often.  There really is no compelling reason to do so.

Some argue the digital brochure approach is still useful as a sales tool for brokers and distributors.  Until you talk to brokers and distributors.  They can’t be bothered if the app doesn’t substantially change the quality of info or assistance they can find elsewhere. But mobile apps can make a lot of sense.  Usually, they just need to be re-thought by answering three basic questions:

  • What is the realistic marketing and sales cycle for your product?  Odds are your product’s success is by driven by a consistently simple message and value delivered via your corporate reps, brokers and distributor partners.  Yes, your brand helps get your product on the short list… but it’s delivering the story on the street that gets the sale.
  • What do these reps need to tell your story?  Ironically, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.  Much of what’s needed is locked up in those sell sheets and menu ideas you have — only if the street folks could find them!  Wait, isn’t  that what a sales intranet is for?  Well, intranets are great in theory until you have to use one as a broker or a distributor.  You think you have lots of passwords to remember?  Imagine being a broker who needs to access dozens of intranets?  Do a blind survey of broker reps and I bet a very small percentage even know you have an intranet.
  • How do you measure success?  Launching an app is a milestone, not a success.  Being able to track who and how often your associates use the functionality of an app is the first step in understanding if the mobile app is worth its while.

Answering those three basic questions will get you moving in the right direction to build an effective mobile app for your foodservice business. Next week:  Easy, measurable ways to launch a foodservice mobile app