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Port of Subs helps customers skip in-store lines via mobile ordering

West Coast-based sandwich chain Port of Subs is unlocking a new application that enables loyal consumers to customize their favorite meals and place orders via mobile, underscoring the need for fast-casual restaurants to offer pay-now, pick-up-later options.

The sandwich brand has teamed up with digital ordering platform Olo to debut the new functionality, which may be accessed via smartphones and online. Customers will be able to pay for orders at their convenience and pop in to their local Port of Subs location to retrieve the meals, circumventing long lines and also streamlining the process for employees.

“Launching digital ordering is essentially opening up a new revenue channel,” said Jackie Berg, marketing director for Olo, New York. “You can think of it as an extension of the in-store team that works for the brand 24 hours a day, enabling customers to place orders around the clock on their terms.

“Our brands see higher digital ticket sizes than in-store orders for several reasons,” she said. “Guests are able to view all their options and build the order exactly to their preference, wherever they are.

“This is perfect for both regular takeout orders and items like Port of Subs’ Box Lunches and party trays, which they can browse and customize at their leisure. They are guided along as they build their basket with upsell prompts, where they are appropriate.”

Broadening options
The increasing amount of sandwich and fast-dining chains in the sector means that brands must offer a slew of ordering features to stay relevant to consumers. Port of Subs is cottoning on to the mobile ordering frenzy by rolling out its new app, which also integrates with its rewards platform.

Consumers with little time may now place their order via mobile and customize it to their exact liking, which may include requests such as extra cheese or no mayonnaise. The customization feature is imperative for all sandwich brands to provide, and also relieves stress for in-store employees who may have to juggle many consumers’ specifications.

Guests can choose from Port of Subs’ handcrafted sandwiches, salads and wraps. After paying for their purchase on their smartphone, customers may stop by the nearest Port of Subs location to retrieve their order and skip the line at the cashier.

This feature remains especially effective during lunch hours or other high-traffic times during which restaurants may be full of time-strapped consumers.

Customers may also opt to order via the marketer’s online site, The Port of Subs Ordering app is available for iOS and Android devices.

Users can save their favorite meals for easy reordering in the future. Additionally, the app boasts a group ordering tool that may come in handy for customers hosting parties or purchasing lunches for coworkers.

“We also see that digital ordering lifts visit frequency since reorders are easy and save time,” Ms. Berg said.

Tying in loyalty
Port of Subs is also integrating Olo’s platform into its “sliced fresh” rewards program. This is an important tactic for all food and beverage marketers to leverage, as some consumers will require incentives to test out mobile ordering features.

“We are in the process of integrating ordering with Paytronix rewards in an upcoming version of the app,” Ms. Berg said.

Offering branded games within an ordering app is also an optimal way of keeping consumers engaged after they place an order, and allowing them to receive additional bonus points to redeem for complimentary items.

Fellow sandwich chain Firehouse Subs is rolling out a revamped app that includes mobile ordering capabilities as well as in-app gaming that enables consumers to receive additional loyalty points for extended engagement (see story).

“Think of the app as the digital equivalent of your favorite barista who knows your usual and prepares it before you even walk through the door – the app gets to know you over time, allowing you to reorder and fire favorite orders to the kitchen in just a few taps,” Ms. Berg said.

“Port of Subs’ guests get to skip the line and quickly grab their pre-paid order when they arrive, creating a VIP experience.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York