The beloved, fast-casual restaurant chain partners with Hathway to create a customized order-ahead, deals, and rewards app that delivers on their company motto “Happy Tastes Good”.

Customized Ordering Experience

For more than 60 years, Dairy Queen’s recipe for success has been simple—a combination of great-tasting food and tempting treats served in a family friendly establishment. Today, the Berkshire Hathaway owned company is one of the largest quick-service systems in the world with more than 5,900 restaurants in the United States, Canada, and 20 foreign countries. To compete with similar restaurants and give franchisees the ability to improve their online sales, Dairy Queen partnered with Hathway to design and develop a totally custom order-ahead, loyalty, and deals app.

Key Challenge

Prior to coming to Hathway, DQ explored various white-label app options but ultimately chose to create a custom app out the gate to catch up to their competition while tackling unique challenges facing their business. In particular, they recognized that rolling out order-ahead and loyalty capabilities across thousands of franchisee locations would take years to accomplish. With that extended timeline, they needed an experience that would please fans at early-adoption locations, satisfy the needs of fans who couldn’t enjoy the full experience, and gracefully evolve as more stores came online. Given our track record of experience-led innovation and deep understanding of online ordering and loyalty platforms, DQ selected Hathway to provide experience strategy and app development in partnership with key enterprise software partners.

Enterprise Technology Stack

DQ’s app strategy hinged on a robust integrated technology platform (ITP) that powers the end-to-end experience. The DQ ITP includes the Olo online ordering platform, Punchh marketing and loyalty platform, the Brink point of sale platform, and native iOS and Android apps powered by Hathway’s NomNom™ experience platform. Each component plays a key role in providing highly personalized, secure, scalable, and easy-to-use commerce and loyalty capabilities. Seamlessly integrated into DQ’s corporate and in-store technology systems, the ITP can be easily operated by DQ’s in-house teams and vendors.

Hathway Process

Hathway worked with DQ and ITP vendors across a multi-phase process including strategy, design, engineering, integration, and launch, with Hathway’s primary focus on delivering the apps and helping coordinate the other teams. Along the way, we have facilitated franchisee evangelism to gain support for ITP through early involvement in the planning stages, design reviews, operational impact analyses, and rollout strategies. Due to their active participation, franchisees have broadly embraced the app and helped accelerate rollout.


During the strategy phase, we gathered detailed insights via customer surveys, franchise owners, and project stakeholders to shape the DQ fan experience strategy. Our team also created journey maps based on key customer profiles that simplified path-to-purchase and shortened time-to-task at key moments in the customer lifecycle. Although our strategy was anchored in deep experience across various dining, retail, and CPG clients, we ensured that our approach was tailored to DQ’s unique challenges.

We applied a number of strategies to help solve for the slow rollout challenge we faced including an innovative “Universal Deals” feature that allows basic deal redemption at all stores prior to full ITP rollout. This allowed all users to enjoy basic app functionality and non-ITP stores saw instant value from the app. To address the issue of order-ahead for fast-melting products, we worked with Olo to create a workflow that sends a geofenced notification to the DQ kitchen upon arrival to fire the order.


Our experience design team created the UX and UI flows across various mobile platforms, working closely with DQ, Olo and Brink to organize the digital menu for optimal commerce conversion and ease of combination building. For the new loyalty portion of the app, we used best-practice game theories that centered on incentivizing repeat app usages based on a rewards points program. We also incentivized fans to quickly save their favorite location which allows DQ to send targeted promotions while streamlining the app experience to be focused on Universal Deals if the fan’s favorite location did not yet support ITP.


Using our NomNom native platforms as an accelerator, we iteratively developed the iOS and Android mobile apps. Along the way, we performed extensive testing with support from crowdsourced tools like Applause to fuel insights into real customer journeys in order to further adjust and update the end product. Meanwhile, the other ITP vendors worked to configure and integrate their systems in coordination for the initial launch. DQ collaborated with its franchisees to ensure proper staff training for in-store operational functions like deal redemption and order processing.   

Launch & Beyond

In May of 2018, Dairy Queen proudly launched its new mobile apps and deployed its first ITP stores with immediate success. Downloads in the initial few months numbered in the millions with App Store ratings now exceeding four stars. Since launch, the entire team has worked together to roll out ITP across more stores, scale out online ordering, and drive traffic through loyalty, rewards, and innovative mobile-first marketing campaigns. Hathway is still engaged with DQ as a digital growth partner, providing ongoing app optimizations, data analysis and digital marketing support across award-winning campaigns.

Services and Platforms

  • CRM strategy
  • Email development
  • Customer experience strategy
  • Product strategy and planning
  • Ecosystem strategy
  • Customer journey mapping
  • Android and iOS app development
  • NomNom™ experience platform integration
  • Order ahead integration (Olo)
  • Loyalty program integration (Punchh)
  • Cloud-based POS integration (Brink)
  • User testing and validation
  • UX/UI strategy and design
  • POS integration