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64% of mobile restaurant searches lead to conversion within one hour of the search.

This coupled with the fact that 95% of users conduct restaurant searches on their mobile devices means that restaurants are one of the top local and mobile search categories.

Tastecard has been running across the whole of the UK since 2010. Consisting of a network of restaurants offering a 50% discount or two-for-the-price-of-one on meals for an annual subscription charge, tastecard is seeking to corner this huge online market.

Last year tastecard reported on having over 6,000 participating restaurants and over 500,000 members. As a business you’re encouraged to sign-up to its service as it offers a greater online presence for restaurants that have very little digital footprint.

Your restaurant will be listed as a full page feature on tastecard's website, mobile site and app.

With the above statistics in mind, how is the user experience for potential customers using mobile? Is it worth your restaurant aligning with tastecard, or would it be better to build your own responsive or mobile site from scratch?

Using our own criteria devised here - seven ways that restaurants can take advantage of mobile, lets take a look at each point and see if tastecard measures up to how restaurants should market themselves online.

Optimised for local search?

With 43% of all Google searches having local intent (the benefits of businesses using Google+ Local are discussed here) it would seem necessary for tastecard to optimise its mobile site for local search.

Just by tapping on Search nearby you are taken, with only a few seconds loading time, to restaurants just round the corner from you.

 

Search becomes a lot wilder when tapping the Map option though.

I’m searching around the Econsultancy office and here I’m being directed to restaurants towards the M25. We’re in Farringdon.

It could certainly do with tightening its parameters. 

Tapping the individual restaurants also becomes a farcical exercise, with each pin overlapping the other.

When bringing up a chosen restaurant, the info card is overlarge and doesn’t properly fit in the mobile screen.

Mobile site?

tastecard has a specially built mobile site, rather than an adaptive or responsive one. It obviously knows this is vital to drive on-the-go diners through restaurant doors.

However there are a few UX issues here...

Text when writing in the search box is woefully minuscule, making it difficult to spot where you may have made a mistake.

Although while writing text, a drop-down menu does appear to offer suggestions, these suggestions are masked by the keyboard. Individual restaurants are listed below, but they are completely hidden.

The whole experience looks unpleasantly cluttered.

Avoiding this text input option is where things improve.

By tapping Filters, you can then just tick the boxes to filter your results by offer type, availability, number of diners and even more impressively a full five screens of cuisine types. Tonight I feel like going Mauritian!

Click-to-call?

61% of mobile users call after making a local business search, so it’s imperative that there’s a function to do this.

Thankfully tastecard is on to a winner here.

Ability to book a table?

Unlike its desktop counterpart there is no functionality to book a table online. This puts it at a huge disadvantage to rival sites like toptable, who immediately present you with an online booking form, integrating search, on its homepage.

tastecard has a fine centralised booking form on its desktop site, so it seems a shame not to have adapted this for mobile. 

Mobile friendly menu? 

Unfortunately there are no menus available on the tastecard site. Instead you have to tap through to the individual restaurant’s website and hope that the business has a mobile friendly menu.

In tastecard’s favour, it does provide clear restaurant descriptions.

Also there are well laid out customer reviews if you scroll to the bottom of the screen.

 

Mobile app? 

tastecard has a great looking app, with some effective functionality.

You can access your tastecard ‘card’ on screen to show to the restaurant in case you’ve forgotten it.

The search screen is a work of simplicity and well-defined options.

The restaurant screen shows clear options for click-to-call and best of all, an online booking form, a feature sorely lacking from the mobile site.

 

The map screen looks great, and links to the maps app on your smartphone, so you can find your way there within the app itself.

There's also another good addition, which I’ve only just realised is missing from the mobile site…

Images of the restaurant interior and the food they serve. After all, we eat with our eyes first. (I wouldn’t poke around that aphorism for too long if I were you.)

Allows people to pay within the app?

This is a slightly moot point, as nobody wants to prepay for a restaurant meal before they go. Also tastecard deals don’t include drinks. This functionality is only a benefit to takeaway restaurants.

Should your restaurant sign up to tastecard?

If you like the idea of offering discount food in return for a stronger online presence and therefore higher footfall, then yes, it’s a great idea.

However, it’s definitely up to you to cover all your online bases. If a customer is searching through the mobile tastecard site and wishes to see a menu, they will come through to your website. Therefore it’s important to build a responsive or mobile version of your desktop site for the user's ease. Also you'll want a mobile site for any organic search traffic that may come your way.

For further insight on mobile commerce download our Mobile Marketing and Commerce Report 2013. Read this post for more insight on whether your business needs a mobile site or an app.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 24 October, 2013 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (1)

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webmoghuls

its a excellent topic and so well written... you can also check this website for Internet Marketing, User Experience Design & Mobile Marketing
http://www.webmoghuls.com/

about 3 years ago

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