Restaurants lean into loyalty programs to hold onto digital gains


An employee carries an order for a customer at a Domino’s Pizza restaurant in Detroit.

Sean Proctor | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Forget the battle for chicken sandwich supremacy. The loyalty program wars are coming.

Restaurant digital orders surged 124% in the year ended in March, according to market researcher NPD Group. And the skyrocketing popularity of online ordering during the coronavirus pandemic is motivating big fast-food chains to use rewards programs to hold onto new mobile app customers. By now, most restaurant chains automatically sign customers up for loyalty programs once diners order via a mobile app.

Starbucks, Panera Bread and Domino’s Pizza paved the way, while Chipotle…


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