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P.F. Chang’s enters mobile commerce with ordering app

May 8, 2012

The P.F. Chang's iPhone app

Fast casual restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s is letting hungry diners order food from their handsets via a new mobile application for iPhone and Android smartphones.

In addition to ordering, the new mobile initiative is aimed at building P.F. Chang’s Warrior Rewards loyalty program. Consumers who download the app and sign up for the Warrior Rewards program can receive a free appetizer.

“The P.F. Chang’s mobile app actually started out as a loyalty initiative, but during the discovery process for re-inventing the Warrior Card program, we realized that our guests over-index in mobile,” said Dan Drummond, brand director at P.F. Chang’s, Scottsdale, AZ.

“They are spending more time with their smartphone than with their spouse, and we wanted to capitalize on this trend and develop a mobile application that improved our guest’s experience not only with loyalty but with our brand as a whole,” he said.

“Fundamentally, we want the guest to be able to interact with the brand in any and all conceivable ways through the app.”

Loyal diners
P.F. Chang’s new Warrior Rewards loyalty program is prominently promoted throughout the app. Users can sign up for the program via the app by filling out basic contact information on an optimized landing page.

The rewards program uses a consumer’s phone number as the ID, which could later be used to send specific offers and deals.

The app uses GPS to find the nearest P.F. Chang’s location for users. Once a user selects a location, they can build an order and schedule a pick-up time. The app also lets consumers make restaurant reservations.

Users can create pick-up orders via the app

The app also uses real time to show users updated menus by time of day and deals. For example, an offer for $10 lunch combos is currently being promoted on the home page of the screen.

Consumers can also create their own fortunes by swiping their finger over a virtual fortune cookie. To help spread the P.F. Chang’s brand, consumers can share their fortunes via Facebook and Twitter to friends and family.

“Mobile is no longer just a marketing tactic, it is a way of life and will continue to be an important component in the dining industry,” Mr. Drummond said.

“I firmly believe with the continued proliferation of the smartphone that we will ultimately use the phone as a wallet and communication device,” he said.

Mobile redemption
P.F. Chang’s recent mobile efforts is proof that it is never too late for a company to redeem itself in mobile.

Recently, P.F. Chang’s ran a mobile advertising campaign to drive traffic for its lunch specials (see story).

Although using mobile ads can be effective at promoting specific offers, the ad campaign was not optimized and forced users to pinch and zoom to read content.  Additionally, users could not find the nearest location, defeating the purpose of running the ads for a lunch deal.

Compared to the mobile ad campaign, the restaurant’s new mobile app plays up location with GPS and mapping features. Additionally, the app includes both utility and entertainment features.

P.F. Chang’s emphasis on building its loyalty program via the app is a smart way for the brand to position itself with Warrior Rewards users. By giving loyalty members deals inside the app, users are more likely to download the app and use it on a regular basis.

“Across restaurants ranging from fast-casual to gourmet and local to national, establishments are increasingly producing apps to enable consumers to make reservations and place take-out orders,” said Craig Palli, vice president of business development at Fiksu Inc., Boston.

“It’s all about brand reinforcement and convenience,” he said.

“By using apps to maintain a persistent presence on a consumer’s phone, that restaurant can more easily stay top-of-mind with the consumer. Then by making it easier to dine at home or on site with that restaurant, consumers will purchase more and be less likely to order from competing restaurants.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York 

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