I first discovered Sweetgreen this past summer, when I was interning at a company headquartered in SoHo. I was looking for a lunch option in the vicinity— something quick, healthy, and delicious enough for me to come back to several times a week. And the NoLiTa location of Sweetgreen happily fit the bill.
SoHo is by no means a food desert, and has healthy food options every 10 steps. There’s a Just Salad and a Chop’t a few blocks away, and yet Sweetgreen seems to be the only salad haven in the neighborhood thronged by hundreds of customers each day.
The restaurant has multiple factors in its favor— they use locally sourced organic ingredients, they’re not stingy with helpings, and the line to get your salad made really does go by pretty quickly. And the Sweetgreen app definitely gives them an edge over their competition.
Unlike many restaurants, Sweetgreen’s app is not a complimentary sidepiece to their business— it’s integral to it. The NoLiTa location caters mostly to the lunch breaks of young professionals working in one of the many startups headquartered in the area, so its business is based on customer loyalty. While their scrumptious salads are enough to keep customers coming back, their app provides multiple incentives as well.
While I might download scores of apps, I only go back to those that bring me utility and convenience; I’m not going to open an app that is clunky, difficult to use, and brings little to the table. I’ve been using the Sweetgreen app for nearly 6 months now and I have to say I’m a happy camper.
Sweetgreen’s values include being sustainable yet making a positive impact on the company, the customer, and the community— and it does a great job of sticking to its values while also managing to keep up with the current trends.
It’s aesthetically pleasing, yet simplistic. The app strikes a nice balance between the food images and the user options. So it’s not cluttered with images of warm quinoa bowls and green smoothies, and neither is it only focused on written content. It has a fairly simple layout, with just one main page from where the user can navigate other menu options. I really like that, because it makes it easy and quick to use. It looks like it was designed keeping the user in mind.
The app is all about utility. If I don’t want to spend time waiting in line at the restaurant, I can order my salad using the app, and I’ll be assigned a time when I can simply go to Sweetgreen and pick up my food. It also stores my past orders, so I can simply select one from my past orders and reorder.
While this sounds extremely convenient, I admit I’ve only used this feature when I’ve been really short on time. I usually want to be able to decide the exact quantities of each ingredient, and that’s something I can only do on location.
But my favorite part of the app is that it provides a calorie count, even on custom orders. This is so helpful, because even salads aren’t always healthy, so it helps me pick the right toppings and dressing based on the calorie count.
Sweetgreen is cashless, so there are only two ways of paying for your meal— with your card or through the app. I can connect my card to the app and scan my barcode at checkout, so really, all I need to carry with me is my phone.
Another plus? If I use the app to pay, I earn rewards. For every $99 I spend using the app, I get $9 credit for my next Sweetgreen meal. So, the app incentivizes the user to use it, while achieving its business objectives as well. And the more I use the app, the more incentives it’ll provide— it has several membership levels (green, gold, and black) depending on how much you’ve spent with the app, and each level comes with its own benefits, like a free birthday salad and event invitations. It keeps the customer coming back, both to the app and the restaurant.
It also has a smooth and visually appealing map-based interface if I want to know which Sweetgreen is the nearest to my location.
Sweetgreen’s target market consists of young, health conscious professionals who want a quick and affordable meal. The app is designed keeping these specifications in mind, providing an expedited option for quickness, in-app rewards directed at affordability, and a calorie count to monitor what you’re actually eating.
So, the Sweetgreen app is definitely useful, usable, and valuable. It’s consistent with the company story and the brand personality, is user centered, and easy to convert.
The one drawback I can find is that it’s a tad bit slow when I want to access secondary information like the FAQ section. However, it works seamlessly for its primary functions.
PS- Sweetgreen going cashless can be seen as a risky business model; not only is it eliminating a primary method of payment, it’s also forcing (over) dependence on the app. But it definitely seems to be working in its favor, especially since it’s based on a fast-food system, so eliminating paper is actually saving customers time. Most of the company’s NYC locations have been opened in the past 12 months, and more are planned throughout the city.