Mobile-First: A Necessary Ingredient for Success

Solutions that aren’t mobile-first will fall behind their competitors, unable to capture the attention of customers spending a lot of time on their phones.


Using smartphones at the dinner table has long been considered impolite, but somehow it’s evolved to become an integral part of the restaurant experience. The restaurant industry has taken note and adapted, too. The past three years have seen a 50% increase in the use of restaurant-related technology.

Two significant contributors to this recent surge? The pandemic and over 6 billion smartphone users. The digital transformation of the restaurant industry is one of the pandemic-related changes here to stay. Restaurants use tech, including QR Code menus and mobile-first solutions, to streamline the customer experience.

Over 83% of the world’s population has smartphones. Those users, on average, spend a third of their waking hours on their devices. Developers need to keep up with the digital age and acknowledge the global desire to stay connected. Solutions that aren’t mobile-first will fall behind their competitors, unable to capture the attention of customers spending a lot of time on their phones.

Operating Mobile-First

A mobile-first approach elevates the mobile experience above desktop or in-person experiences. Mobile spans the whole spectrum of customer interaction, including convenience.

It’s nearly impossible for customer engagement not to grow as customers interact with a restaurant through its mobile app or QR Code system, creating brand awareness. This mobile marketing strategy increases reach far beyond print marketing’s capabilities. That’s because there isn’t a need for a customer to be physically present to engage with a business. Wherever a person goes, their cellphone likely comes with them.

Developing a Mobile-First Strategy

Because how we interact with our mobile devices changes nearly as often as the technology itself, it becomes a challenge for businesses to keep up. But a mobile-first approach increases the potential for greater reach and higher revenue. Consider the following trends restaurants are implementing as part of a mobile-first strategy:

QR Codes

Since the early days of the pandemic, over half of U.S. restaurants have switched to QR Codes, with more expected to follow suit. QR Codes are user-friendly and convenient, unlike when they first emerged in the marketing world. Initially, people needed to download a third-party app. Now, hungry patrons only need their smartphone’s camera.

Most of us became familiar with QR Codes as restaurants recognized their value for showing menus — no contact needed. A QR Code generator helps businesses create and place menu codes on tables, doors, food pickup zones, delivery bags and even floating across a TV screen.

Limiting the use of physical menus reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission, keeping customers and employees safe. Contactless ordering and payments through QR codes also reduce the number of personnel needed per shift, which helps restaurants struggling with the labor shortage.

Restaurants can also use QR Code generators to store multiple menus under one code. And when the chef — or corporate office — changes the menu, the restaurant managers can quickly update the digital menu more easily than erasing and rewriting the day’s specials on the sandwich board.

QR Codes can do more than highlight what’s on the menu. For example, businesses can use them for digital discount coupon codes and feedback forms. No more papering windshields in a strip mall parking lot or going door-to-door to drop off flyers. Another option is increasing engagement after the customer pays the check. A QR Code on packaging or delivery box makes a business’ presence last.

SMS Marketing

Customers – especially younger generations – are more comfortable interacting with businesses on their mobile devices than ever before. This fact has led to an increase in SMS marketing, making customers feel like a business has personally reached out to them. By sending text messages directly, a restaurant uses a method preferred by many patrons. Customers who opt-in to receiving messages about promotions and upcoming events are more likely to remember a restaurant and visit its website looking for other deals.

Email Marketing for Mobile

People open more than 40% of their emails on mobile devices. And seven in 10 users delete emails that don’t display correctly on phones. These statistics show the importance of email optimization for easy reading on any device.

Restaurants use bold headers and subject lines that are punchy and concise. That’s because if they don’t catch a customer’s eye, they’re going straight to the trash folder — unopened. Since email marketing’s success relies on personalization, a call-to-action (CTA) is needed — whether it’s asking customers to visit the restaurant website, book a reservation or check out the latest menu upgrades. A CTA creates a sense of urgency (and maybe activates the appetite!)

Mobile-friendly website

Once customers reach a restaurant’s website, optimization becomes even more essential. When websites perform poorly on a mobile device, businesses lose out on a massive target market. Frustrated customers may be less likely to return.

Compelling and engaging experiences boost brand loyalty and retention. The most effective mobile websites use adaptive design and HTML5 to display content correctly because consistency is key.

Since smartphones have become part of the dining experience, restaurants are capitalizing on their ubiquity. Just as menus evolve – so should technology solutions. Keeping up with the smartphone era is the recipe for success.


Sharat Potharaju is the Co-founder and CEO of Beaconstac, responsible for crafting the overall strategy and execution. Sharat is dedicated to achieving Beaconstac’s vision to enable digital connection with every physical object and place on the planet. Prior to his entrepreneurial career, Sharat spent a few years working in investment banking at Merrill Lynch in New York. Sharat holds a master’s degree in engineering management from Duke University and a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras.