Methodworx Helps Pizza Express Lead the way in Restaurant Apps
2nd November 2021
Pizza Express is the market leader in mid-market casual dining apps. Its performance on the App Store has been remarkable:
- #1 App in mid-market casual dining
- #26 App in Food & Drink category
- 4.8 out of 5 average rating
- 9,870 customer ratings
- 72,000 registrations in 2019
- 2m sessions in 2019
Let’s take a look at how Pizza Express compares with other mid-market casual chains on the App Store:
|Restaurant||Ratings||Average Score (Out of 5)|
|Jamie’s Italian Gold Club||7,530||4.8|
In Pizza Express’s category, only Jamie’s Italian has an app near the same level – and a celebrity name powers it.
Zizzi, Café Rouge, Ask Italian, Bella Italia and Prezzo don’t have apps, and it’s easy to see why – getting an app right for a restaurant chain is very difficult.
How has Pizza Express built such incredible traction with its app? Let’s go back to the start.
The Old Pizza Express App
Matt Broom, Head of Customer Technology at Pizza Express, tells us of the situation two years ago:
“The app we had was static. It had no CMS and didn’t support the tech needed to build out new features – like giving customers the option to pay using the app. It looked dated and didn’t help our brand.”
Making Pizza Express’s App into a Market Leader
Matt and his team had high hopes for an app:
“We wanted a future-proofed digital channel that would help us engage with customers and build strong long-term relationships. We had ambitions to push out tailored offers and notifications to our users through the app. Everyone knows how smartphones have become so ingrained in people’s lives – we wanted to take advantage of that.”
Methodworx was brought in to help build the app that would give Pizza Express that all-important tool to engage with customers.
The first step was understanding what Pizza Express needed. Its needs were ambitious but clear, it had to:
- Look and feel excellent. It had to fit with the Pizza Express brand and provide an exceptional customer experience.
- Provide the same functionality for users that they can access on the website (for example, make a booking, find a restaurant, access a promotion).
- Provide functionality that is unique to the app (for example, paying at table).
- Provide marketing teams the capability to send out personalised offers straight to customers via the app.
- Make implementing new ideas simple, quick and easy.
- Ultimately make the app Pizza Express’s strongest digital channel.
There were two sides to the story: make the app a brilliant user experience and ensure the underlying technology allowed Pizza Express to analyse app usage to better understand and segment customers.
The User Experience
First, the customers needed to love the app; Matt explains how Pizza Express did this:
“The priority was to make the app really easy to use; the aesthetics were modern, clean and consistent with the Pizza Express brand. We also gave users important functionality like booking a table, an app payment option and access to vouchers.”
Matt explains the importance of content:
“We wanted users to get something new when they opened the app – latest news like new recipes and sauces is pushed regularly to the app. Fun games are also offered as another way to engage users.”
The app is built on a CMS that gives Pizza Express the capability to easily and quickly change content and push out different offers and vouchers. For example, if one restaurant was running a special promotion, any app users in the area could quickly and easily receive an invitation – simple but effective.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Pizza Express not only wanted an accessible and engaging app, it wanted it to provide insights on customer behaviour, and a way to reach every customer on a highly personalised level – it knew that would be an incredibly powerful tool.
Matt explains how this was achieved:
“An area where Methodworx really took us to the next level was with the technology used to power the app. Methodworx integrated the app into their Event-Stream platform. This means that we’re able to identify who our app users are and segment them accordingly, enabling us to send out vouchers and offers relevant to each specific app user.”
A Virtuous Circle
By delivering an exceptional app Pizza Express get more user engagement. This engagement helps it understand more about the customers; this information enables Pizza Express to push better and more personalised content to users, meaning they engage in the app even more. And so it goes on.
We’ve seen the statistics: Methodworx has delivered for Pizza Express a best-in-class app for restaurants of its type but what does that mean for the business?
- Through the 1.2 million sessions this year alone Pizza Express has gained extraordinary insight into customer behaviour.
- Because the app is integrated into Event-Stream, Pizza Express has a clear view on every app user and can quickly target them with relevant offers and campaigns, greatly improving customer engagement.
- The easy-to-use CMS enables Pizza Express to make changes to the app quickly and easily.
- Usage sends a clear message – customers love the app, and this is great for the brand, great for customer engagement and great for gathering users’ data.
In summary, Matt feels, “The app developed by Methodworx has given us the platform to go and engage with our customers, it’s meant that we can try new things and deliver campaigns easily – this flexibility means we can improve and evolve our customer engagement ten times faster. The app quickly became our digital channel of choice, and we’re looking forward to developing the capability more in the coming years with Methodworx.”