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Which Wich unwraps mobile-ordering as food sector heats up

Which Wich Superior Sandwiches is rolling out a new mobile application and digital ordering platform, enabling customers to order and pay for hand-crafted sandwiches on their smartphones and pick them up at the restaurant.

A slew of major restaurant chains, including Taco Bell and Starbucks, are piloting mobile-ordering capabilities, demonstrating the technology’s importance in the competitive sector. Now, Which Wich fans will be able to skip the line at bricks-and-mortar locations and grab their orders in a time-efficient manner, a move which may help the brand drive sales among consumers on lunch breaks or those with busy schedules.

“Mobile ordering is really a function that enables hospitality for the digital guest,” said Jackie Berg, marketing director of Olo, New York. “Which Wich can continue building on their relationships with guests by using technology to get to know them when they’re outside of the store, which is where now the majority of food is consumed.

“For guests that come frequently to Which Wich, their in-store experience now means that reorders of their favorite sandwiches can happen in just a few taps in the mobile app, where their order hits the POS and allows them to skip the line when they arrive,” she said.

“What the new digital ordering program also enables is the Which Wich store team to shift the hospitality to more meaningful tasks than manually entering an orders and exchanging payment, which is done before customers enter the store. So the more valuable parts of the transaction, like fulfilling an order properly and making sure the guest has a great experience, are now front and center.”

Mobile ordering
Consumers tend to appreciate the customization aspect that mobile ordering offers them. Which Wich customers who have specific requests and favorite ingredients may build their preferred sandwich at, or via the brand’s mobile app for iOS or Android devices.

Which Wich’s new program enables guests to select from more than 50 sandwiches, and personalize their orders with their preferred choices of cheeses, meats and more than 60 toppings.

Time-strapped consumers will likely gravitate toward the mobile ordering capability, as it means they will not have to wait in long queues, or ensure they have a credit card or cash on their persons.

“About half of our transactions are mobile,” said James Park, vice president of marketing and research and development for Which Wich, Dallas, TX. “Our brand is really geared toward the high-energy, early adopting segment and there is a part of us that’s inherently analog.

“The bag and line are part of our DNA, but we are building infrastructure around our customer base that requires the technology component. So we have a healthy balance of analog and digital.”

Which Wich believes its targeted messaging will resonate positively with fans in-store as well.

“As guests start to build up usage around online ordering, not only will they benefit from the product being already prepared when they get to one of our stores, but we’ll also be better able to serve them from a preferential standpoint,” Mr. Park said. “We don’t send messaging that isn’t relevant.

“We can message in terms of SMS and utilize a geofenced tool that’s associated with our program. All of that is what we’re calling the digital guest experience – their guest experience is just as important online as offline, so it’s seamless.”

Future loyalty integration
The sandwich marketer is also piloting loyalty integration in select markets, with a full rollout expected to arrive this fall. Mobile ordering and loyalty platforms go hand-in-hand, as guests enjoy receiving rewards points when placing orders on smartphones and tablets.

Which Wich is teaming up with Paytronix for the platform, which aims to strengthen customer relationships via promotions, rewards and gift engagements that will all be tied directly to the point-of-sale system.

Loyalty programs also aid brands in better understanding their client base, as the data collected on consumer behaviors becomes invaluable.

Ultimately, mobile ordering and loyalty will become requisite in-app features for any food and beverage marketer seeking to establish long-lasting relationships with consumers.

“We are seeing more customers choosing a restaurant based on the technology experience they offer – and that number continues to climb in National Restaurant Association data,” Olo’s Ms. Berg said. “But the real value is in building relationships with existing customers.

“Other Olo clients have seen frequency lifts – in one case, 32 percent after adding ordering to an existing loyalty app – due to the convenience ordering provides.”

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