Not that long ago, there was no such thing as an app. Then you could shop with them and play games on them and even get prescriptions filled on them. But these apps were always created by someone else and users pretty much had to take what they could get.
Now, thanks to Como, foodservice operators can now develop their own mobile apps.
Formerly known as Conduit Mobile, Como was conceived as a way to level the playing field, allowing anyone to build and maintain a mobile app, with low cost and no coding, according to Gil Harel, Como’s vice president of business development. And you don't have to be a computer genius to create one.
“Como provides a do-it-yourself (DIY) app-creation platform that allows small-to-midsize businesses to compete in today’s mobile market,” Harel says. The platform first launched in 2010, when mobile app development was still an emerging industry. “At the time, only those who could afford to hire a mobile developer (often costing tens of thousands of dollars) could benefit from a mobile app,” he recalls.
Harel says Como has since grown to become the world’s leading DIY mobile app maker. “Just recently, it was announced that more than one million apps have been created via the platform worldwide—with over 4,500 new apps created daily,” he says proudly. With 20% of apps coming from the food industry, Como enables thousands of cafes, restaurants, distributors, food bloggers, bars, and more to reach their customers on their most personal device.”
Como’s platform, the Como Console, uses an interface that makes it easy to create beautiful mobile personalized apps, says Harel. “And these apps are tailored to specific businesses for all major mobile devices (Android, iOS, and Amazon Kindle Fire),” he notes.
But Como isn’t just for building apps—it’s for maintaining and managing them, too. “Our platform includes a business management dashboard that allows business owners to track customer activity, such as the number of reservations, orders, deliveries, coupons, and promotions made and used through the apps that they create with Como,” says Harel. “We also expand our offerings via integrations and partnerships. For example, we offer integrations with a number of online ordering and payment systems, such as MyCheck, OnlineOrdering, and Olo.”
Como also helps businesses promote their apps, get more downloads, and attract new customers with the Marketing Genie, a resource center that provides on- and offline tools.
Though Como does not specifically target the food world, many of the apps created from its platform seem tailor-made for it. This includes the ability for users to make reservations, allowing them to book a table through the app with OpenTable, Urbanspoon, TopTable, and more; devise menus, creating a custom menu or importing an existing menu from online menu guides such as Allmenus or SinglePlatform, and food ordering, grabbing content from GrubHub, Seamless, Eat24Hours, OLO, Online Ordering, and other online delivery services to let users place an order on- the-go.
In addition, the program allows foodservice operations to design mobile apps that develop loyalty programs, enhancing customer loyalty by offering promotions and rewards, as well as mobilizing a restaurant's stamp card; provide in-app coupons to promote products, services, and special deals, and click-to-call, allowing users to call restaurants directly through the app in a single click.
The Como generated apps also give foodservice outlets the opportunity for customers to review the restaurant and then share their reviews by adding Yelp, Citysearch, and other guides, and even optimize workforce management of orders, delivery assignments, and tracking via Bringg. Push notification updates and in-app real-time map tracking enable direct communication between the delivery person, the business, and the customer.
Don't know where the restaurant is? Directions and maps on the app display the exact location of a business so customers can easily find it. And you can connect to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks through the app; display photos by connecting with Picasa, Tumblr, Flickr, Facebook, TwitPic, Como’s unique LiveAlbum technology, and collect feedback and information about customers and their behavior with reports, forms, and detailed business analytics.
“These days, there are a number of DIY app-creation platforms on the market—but very few boast the size, expertise, and wealth of features Como offers,” Harel points out. “However, the real secret to our success lies in our dedication to not only helping businesses build, but also maintain, their mobile app.”
To truly derive value from a mobile app, users need to ensure that the app provides value to customers. “We believe that mobile technology should serve as a core extension of your business, and we’re dedicated to helping you make that happen by including key features, such as coupons, promotions, and built-in loyalty cards; providing a robust business management system that allows you to track (and tweak) your app’s activity; and offering promotional materials such as printed stickers, automatically generated QR codes, website banners, and tools to help you create targeted social media campaigns,” he adds.
Distributors benefit, too. “Many of the core restaurant-focused features, such as delivery services, are very useful. They also benefit from our many e-commerce integrations,” says Harel.
As for the future, the company is currently working to automate restaurants’ entire marketing ecosystems and investigating a number of new partnership opportunities, including the option to connect with point-of-sales systems.
“Como aims to serve the future of mobile, in which businesses will offer a targeted and engaging experience for customers via mobile apps created on our platform,” says Harel. “Our streamlined, intuitive platform allows businesses to create professional apps in order to integrate with their customers’ mobile lifestyle.”