Dunkin' Donuts Tells Customers Its App Needs a Jolt

Restaurant Chain Apologizes to App Users, Suggests Low-Tech Fix for App Sluggishness

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Dunkin' Donuts app
Dunkin' Donuts app Credit: Dunkin' Donuts

Dunkin' Donuts is telling users of its app that they might want to open it on their phones before they get to the restaurants, signaling performance issues may mean customers can't get their caffeine fixes fast enough.

Dunkin' Donuts, part of Dunkin' Brands Group Inc., emailed users of the app on Sunday with a subject line that reads: Important Message about the Dunkin' App.

As the Dunkin' app has become more popular, we've run into some small performance issues. Sorry about that! We want every Dunkin' experience to be fast, easy and convenient, so we're working around the clock to improve the app and keep you running at full speed.

In the meantime, try this tip for a better Dunkin' run: get a head start by opening up your app* a few minutes before you get to Dunkin'.

Above all, we apologize for any inconvenience we've caused. We will keep you updated as improvements are implemented.

-The Dunkin' Donuts Team

Dunkin' Donuts has long said that America Runs On Dunkin, but these days it seems too many people want to pay with Dunkin's app, which could be making their coffee runs slower. Dunkin's public relations team responded to a request for more details with a statement from Scott Hudler, VP-Global Consumer Engagement, which echoed much of what the company said in its email.

"We have experienced strong growth of both the DD Perks and Dunkin' Mobile app platforms, which has resulted in some minor performance issues in recent weeks. We are actively working to remedy these issues as quickly as possible, and continue to deliver a digital experience that meets the expectations of our guests and our brand."

Mr. Hudler, speaking at the company's Oct. 1 investor and analyst day, said that Dunkin' Donuts was seeing just under 2 million transactions per week through its mobile platform. The app launched in 2012 and has over 14 million downloads and around 5 million monthly active users, while there are 3.5 million members in the chain's Perks loyalty program, he said.

The chain knows it needs to make using its app and its Perks program as easy as possible to keep them coming back. As Chris Fuqua, Dunkin' Donuts' VP-brand marketing and global consumer insights, said during the Oct. 1 meeting: "We know that even our best customers, the ones that are the hard core, five-plus times a week customers, they're not monogamous. They're going to other coffee locations for coffee."

The "small performance issues" come as some of Dunkin's major rivals have been making app changes of their own. In September, Starbucks rolled out its "mobile order and pay" feature nationwide, allowing users of its app to order and pay before they get to a shop, then bypass the register to pick up their items. McDonald's, which does not yet offer mobile ordering nationwide on its U.S. app, sends offers such as free sandwiches or discounts to users.

Dunkin' plans a consumer-facing mobile ordering test in Portland, Maine, starting in November, Mr. Hudler said at the meeting.

Dunkin' has a loyal U.S. following, but sales have not been too hot lately. At the Oct. 1 meeting, executives said they expected third-quarter U.S. Dunkin' Donuts comparable sales would be up just 1.1%, in part because traffic at the shops declined. Such sales, which track results at longstanding locations, rose 2.9% in the second quarter of 2015 and rose 2% in the third quarter of 2014.

Dunkin' Brands is set to report full third-quarter results on Oct. 22.

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