Now (Almost) Any Restaurant Can Offer Mobile Ordering

The company behind Subway’s mobile ordering platform is making the tech available to smaller restaurants.

Now (Almost) Any Restaurant Can Offer Mobile Ordering
Photo: Unsplash user Mikey Boyle

In July 2015, Avanti Commerce helped Subway launch mobile ordering at 27,000 of its U.S. stores, making it at the time the largest restaurant chain to support mobile ordering. Now it’s bringing some of that same technology to smaller outfits.

While Subway’s rollout was somewhat novel, these days the mobile ordering of food is commonplace. Customers are accustomed to ordering a latte on their phone while they’re walking to Starbucks or buying a Chipotle burrito as they’re leaving for their lunch break so they can skip the line when they arrive at the store for pickup.

Most of the restaurants that offer mobile ordering have been huge chains. Until now. With the new Avanti platform, the company is offering its service to restaurants of any size—from McDonald’s to the mom-and-pop sandwich place on the corner—provided they have at least five locations.

“What we’ve tried to figure out is if we can offer the majority of the enterprise features and functionality for $125 per month,” says Avanti’s founder and CEO, Jason Strashek.

The platform, which is built off the same idea Avanti used with Subway, is not limited by the size of the business, its location, or the amount of traffic it receives. Once a mobile site is built, the platform can be used in multiple currencies and languages (if you happen to have an international business). It can also be customized with individual menus, logos, and designs that make the platform look like it was created specifically for that company. Restaurants can upload photos to the platform, and add and subtract menu items on the fly based on their availability. Avanti says it can get the platform up and running for a business in a matter of weeks.

“The idea is that everyone can start out with a simple, responsive mobile website,” says Strashek. From there, restaurants can add apps, digital menu boards, and in-store kiosks for an additional charge. Payments are handled within the mobile site, and orders are typically printed out using a Bluetooth printer connected to an Android tablet at the restaurant’s location. (Strashek says that the service integrates with a number of POS systems.)

As for the five-location rule, it has some advantages. If you own six sandwich shops and run out of tuna one afternoon, you can go in and remove the tuna items from the menu at all six locations at the same time. You can raise the price of your meatball sub when the price of ground beef rises, within a few seconds.

“What we’ve really done is we’ve taken the capabilities of this platform that’s done millions of transactions already [at Subway], and thought about how we can make it really, really easy for the smaller chains to be able to deploy quickly while still embracing a single brand,” says Strashek.

He says that after a trial period with smaller restaurants, he hopes Avanti will be able to bring the same features and technology to other businesses—for instance, your favorite local food truck.

Avanti will allow businesses to sign up to try the service in April, when it will also unveil some of the restaurants that are testing out the software now.

About the author

Emily is a journalist based in San Francisco.

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