Qdoba, California Tortilla advance mobile ordering


Qdoba Mexican Eats and California Tortilla have more in common than serving Tex Mex. Both fast casual brands, this month, have revamped their mobile apps.

“As the demands of guests continue to evolve, our digital services also needed to evolve in order to meet the needs of our guests,” Karen Dawit, California Tortilla marketing director said during an interview with FastCasual. “We wanted to create an app experience that matched the service and experience that our guests would receive within the four walls.”

Cal Tort — based in Potomac , Maryland, with more than 40 locations nationwide — first launched its app in 2016, and although four years isn’t exactly “old news” when it comes to most things, it’s a lifetime in the tech world. Dawit knew it was time for an upgrade. 

That meant putting digital ordering front and center. The upgrade allows customers to place their orders through the app. Upon pickup, they scan a QR code at locations to earn loyalty points from their orders.

“The in-app online ordering experience needed to be streamlined to make it easier for the guest to place orders on-the-go,” Dawit said.

The new interface also has a cleaner look, multiple methods to check-in for loyalty points and integrates with Olo, a mobile and online food ordering platform, to streamline the online ordering experience, Dawit said.

“The expected ROI is to see a lift in online orders — easy for guests without having to miss out on fresh ingredients and bold flavors — also making the in-store experience faster through the check-in functionality and QR code scan,” Dawit said about the upgrade that was included as part of the chain’s original contract with its app provider, Paytronix.
“Apps are living, breathing digital properties that require constant care and feeding to ensure the latest technology is delivering an exceptional app user experience,” Michelle Tempesta, Paytronix head of marketing, said in an interview with FastCasual. “As Apple, Android, and Paytronix continue to innovate, so should app development and features. Including at least one upgrade per year ensures that our clients can take advantage of the latest tools without impacting their budget.”

Qdoba’s turns it up
Qdoba realized that importance and migrated its long-standing rewards program to the Paytronix platform, partnering with the company to build a Qdoba-branded app with an Olo-powered online ordering service. Qdoba is relying on the partnership to not only engage with its customers on a digital level but is also subscribing to Paytronix Data Insights to collect customer data in hopes of creating more relevant offers and increasing visit frequency, said Jill Adams, Qdoba vice president of marketing.

“Paytronix helps Qdoba make it easier for guests to engage with our brand while providing the insights that will help us better understand our guests, which enables us to create relevant offers and increase their visit frequency,” she said in the release. “Paytronix is the perfect platform to help improve the Qdoba Rewards program and to help us scale the program over time.”

Although both Qdoba and California Tortilla understand that their consumers expect healthy food options that prioritize sustainability, they also want speedy service.

“For a brand that puts such a strong emphasis on both customer satisfaction and quality and freshness of its food, a move towards faster service doesn’t come lightly,” Dawit said. “Cal Tort still aims to uphold the industry-leading guest experience that is one of the brand’s core values.”

It’s clear that both brands are thinking about the guest’s journey with the brand, Tempesta said.

“Today’s brand experience can begin and end on the couch, with the mobile device as the only branded touchpoint,” she said. “The guest journey can also include mobile pickup or order ahead as well, meaning that for many, the mobile app is as important as the in-store experience. From the brand perspective, this means that multiple channels — mobile, web, and in-store — must offer a cohesive experience. When done well, it means helping fill more orders even on the slowest Tuesday.”

The work is never over
 As technology and demand change, restaurants must be prepared to meet those needs in order to provide a frictionless experience.

“That may be as simple as finding a nearby location, or it could be mobile ordering, engaging with the brand through a loyalty program and in-app messages and surveys, or features like dark mode, face ID or fingerprint ID,” Tempesta said. “We’re also seeing voice ordering start to emerge. We constantly innovate so that our customers can get the best technology in a way that fits their brand. When our customers upgrade, they can take advantage of all the new features that enable them to attract more members and more orders.”