The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf announced today via press release the launch of its newly redesigned mobile app. Among updates to the UX and improvements to the chain’s digital rewards program, the standout feature of the redesign is direct delivery.
As a quick refresher, direct delivery is when a chain can process orders made for delivery directly through its own digital properties (i.e., app and/or website), rather than having to go through a third-party service like DoorDash or Uber Eats. The big upside here is that restaurants pay a lower commission fee to third-party services because DoorDash Et al. are only handling the actual delivery of the food, not the order processing and technical logistics. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf currently delivers through Postmates to California and Arizona.
The new app can process delivery orders directly. Other features, according to today’s press release, include an order-ahead menu for pickup orders at physical stores, the ability to scan, earn, and redeem points from the app’s home screen, and more customization capabilities for food and beverage items.
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s app revamp comes at a time when digital properties are the main channel through which most restaurants are connecting with customers. A rise in COVID cases coupled with extremely uncertain economics has forced restaurants to rethink their approach to the digital realm. Keeping a customer (and their data) entrenched firmly in a chain’s own ecosystem is becoming increasingly important, and is one of the drivers behind this adoption of direct delivery. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is the latest brand to adopt this strategy, but plenty others already offer a similar approach to delivery. Panda Express recently announced the launch of its own delivery service. Outback Steakhouse and Wendy’s offered direct delivery long before the pandemic.
The move towards direct delivery doesn’t just mean potentially better margins for restaurants. It’s also fueling the growth of a specific area of restaurant tech, namely delivery integrators that sell out-of-the-box tech solutions to help restaurants bring some functions around delivery back in house.
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf did not say in the press release if it has redesigned its app completely in-house or if it used technology from a third party like ShiftPixy. But it’s entrance into the direct delivery space is a sign that we’ll see similar moves from other regional chains in the near future as the dining room reopening remain in a constant state of flux.