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Subway’s Avanti deal signals continued commitment to mobile and digital

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September 8, 2016

Subway's acquisition of key assets from Avanti means a stronger digital investment in the future

Subway’s acquisition of key assets from Avanti means a stronger digital investment in the future

Subway has acquired both a team and assets from Avanti Commerce, a digital technology platform based in Vancouver, Canada, suggesting the company’s investment in mobile and digital is more than just gesture.

The team members, numbering 20 employees, will staff Subway’s newly created Subway Digital subdivision. Subway Digital will act to grow the brand’s mobile and digital presence, expanding its omnichannel offerings with new mobile campaigns.

“Subway’s step to acquire Avanti and beef up its in-house digital acquisition team brings to light some of the key priorities of the brand,” said Shuli Lowy, director of customer success at TVTY. “Clearly Subway sees digital commerce as a key source of revenue in its roadmap. 

“As the brand pushes to lure more millennials to its doorsteps, it understands that a stellar digital experience and acquisition plan is a must.” 

Partial acquisition
Avanti Commerce specializes in providing online ordering platforms for restaurants. This gels with Subway’s recent push to grow its digital presence, starting with the arrival of online ordering last year.

The two companies, Subway and Avanti, have had a long relationship prior to this acquisition. Since 2011, Avanti has been working alongside Subway as a partner to its omnichannel efforts.

avanti
Avanti works with restaurants around the world, including Subway

Avanti recently aided in Subway’s expansion of its Wi-Fi enabled loyalty program to its 600 stores in Canada (see story). That expertise will now be integrated into Subway’s in-house digital team.

Now that Subway has absorbed some of the team and assets, the two companies will be able to work even closer. Subway will continue to work alongside Avanti’s Innovation team, while the newly hired employees will focus on expanding Subway’s omnichannel capabilities.

That Subway is hiring an experienced team is not surprising given the overall focus on digital and mobile. The sandwich chain, which is the largest food chain in the U.S. by numbers, is planning on hiring another 150 people to its digital team over the next few years.

“Creating an effective online ordering system requires a skilled team and operational organization,” Ms. Lowy said. “Some components within digital commerce can be built once and, with slight customizations, scaled to serve a mass consumer base. 

“The process for QSRs also requires strategic processes and manpower to get that consistent ordering experience down to the store level.” 

Permanent investment
Subway’s mobile payment campaign began with the launch of Apple Pay, which Subway was one of the first establishments to accept. The sandwich franchise’s commitment to mobile was solidified in July of 2015 with a partnership with PayPal, which let customers use the pay service to order online and in-store (see story).

subway app
Subway’s offers online ordering through its app

Subway also campaigned last year to get more customers onto its Wi-Fi network by offering loyalty rewards and incentives to anyone who joined (see story). That move suggested a focus on Wi-Fi monetization that Subway is now bringing to its entire mobile and digital presence.

The acquisition of significant assets from Avanti suggests that Subway’s trend towards online ordering, loyalty apps and mobile payments is not just a passing fad, but something that the company is invested in enough to make structural investments towards.

“It is an interesting development, but also reflective of how digital and mobile are changing the way merchants conduct business,” said Jon Squire, CEO and founder of CardFree. “Those that are serious and successful in digital and mobile are making organizational shifts to ensure the success of programs.”

“Mobile is not a ‘project’ that has a start and end,” Mr. Squire said. “It takes ongoing commitment.”

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Danny Parisi is staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach him at danny@napean.com.

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