The last few years have not been kind to Subway. Jared Fogle, the longtime face of the company is behind bars. Its founder and president Fred DeLuca passed away in 2015, and after years of substantial growth, the total number of Subway franchises recently began to shrink, as did sales. What’s the solution? Technology!
Until now, the high-point of high tech at Subway was the decision to switch from paper loyalty cards to ones with magnetic stripes, but now Bloomberg reports that the chain plans to catch up, especially after competitors like McDonald’s and Chipotle have added in-store kiosks and mobile order and pay through their apps.
The chain’s most sandwich-intensive competitor, Panera Bread, reports that its sales have increased after overhauling its ordering process, adding mobile and online orders, a dedicated pickup area so customers don’t have to talk to anyone, and delivery. The chain’s sales are up, and it credits the upgraded technology.
Rolling out any change across the chain means substantial investment from the owners of actual restaurants, since Subway is a 100% franchised operation. The company will help franchisees, though.
“We are investing heavily,” the company’s chief information and digital officer told Bloomberg. “We’re also asking the franchisees to put some skin in the game. Our franchisees are with us 100%.”
It’s not all about tech: Other chains like Five Guys have spread nationwide with savvy marketing just as Subway lost its spokesman to child pornography charges, and other chains have started to market fresh ingredients and healthy meals, muscling in on Subway’s territory as the sort of healthy fast food option.