After months of teasing, Shake Shack has finally begun to roll out a web-based ordering platform. For now, the initial test is only available to customers who live in close proximity to 10 Shake Shack locations across New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, and California. A nationwide launch will be the next step, after the team has ironed out any issues with the technology and pickup functionality.
Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti has been promising web-based ordering for quite some time, saying that the feature was in the works repeatedly throughout quarterly earnings calls this year. Plenty of other quick-service restaurant chains both large and small already offer online ordering, including Chipotle, Sweetgreen, Cava, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell.
Abbey Reider, Shake Shack’s head of digital and guest experience, said that the company wasn’t necessarily late to market on the launch, depending on the competitor. “What’s different is that we are very much focused on hospitality, and how are we impacting current guests. For us, it’s about always making great moments,” she said.
Shake Shack has supported mobile ordering through its app for over a year. In August, Garutti said that app sales as a percentage of total sales continued to rise, and typically delivered a higher average check compared to orders made in the restaurant. “In addition, our new Shacks typically open with a higher percentage of app sales, giving us further confidence that early adoption can lead to a higher use of digital ordering,” Garutti said on the company’s August 2018 earnings call.
Now that online ordering is available, the company is hoping to see the same trends of larger average checks and increased digital sales on the new platform. “One of the reasons the app does so well are the great food images,” Reider said. “It’s not a traditional menu board, you’re browsing pictures of mouthwatering burgers. Our assumptions [about customer behavior for online ordering] are very similar.”
Online, the category purchasing limits are higher versus the app, and customers aren’t required to have a Shake Shack account to place an order. Reider said that they hope to capture a more transient guest via online ordering, and, if all goes well, convert them into more loyal users. “This is our opportunity to earn your loyalty,” Reider said. “We want to earn that space on your phone.”
Shake Shack will report its third quarter earnings on Thursday.
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