Subway’s new(ish) app: Equal parts handy and beautiful


In a bid to indulge our laziness and reliance on convenience foods, fast food joints all over the place are releasing apps to make the strenuous process of ordering and collecting our lunch that little bit faster.

So it was with a little bit of eye rolling that I agreed to review the new mobile app released by Subway earlier this month.

That said, in a sea of trans-fat laden, “500% of your daily sodium intake” convenience food outlets, Subway has always seemed like a breath of fresh air to me. It’s pretty easy to grab a relatively healthy lunch from Subway and this new mobile app makes it not only a smart choice, but a pretty quick and easy one too.

Feeling a bit like cheesy advertising stock footage, I actually had my first foray with this app as I was rushing between meetings.

Luckily, I’d been invited to do this review beforehand so had already downloaded, registered and loaded money onto the app. Pretty straightforward process – just the usual name and ph number kind of stuff. They texted me a password I had to enter but other than that, it was refreshingly devoid of annoying back-and-forths with verifying links and re-entering details.

So there I was, 2pm on a Friday, coming out of a long meeting and driving straight to another one, facing the (unusually) unappealing prospect of rushing through a drive-though on the way, when I remembered the new Subway app and figured I’d give it a whirl.

This is an app that looks like it’s been built with the kind of care and budget that are the hallmark of global giants like Subway. The user-interface is beautifully designed – really simple and intuitive and perfect for people who are a bit brain addled by extreme hanger.

It works basically the same as the real-life store. First you choose the menu item you’re after – for the purposes of this review let’s assume you’re looking for a sub, same as I was. Then you just follow the promps, selecting the store you want to place an order with and pick-up time, size and style of bread you want, the fillings (including extra meat, avocado and cheese options), upgrades and side options.

All the usual slick stuff you’d expect in an app for a take-away joint that has now surpassed even McDonald in numbers of locations around the globe.

Once I’d placed my order and fought my way through the traffic, it was a simple case of running inside to grab my prepared meal, scanning my card which paid using the money pre-loaded on my account (apparently I could have used the QR code on my mobile for this bit – old habits die hard though), and leaving.

The only little niggles I had with the whole experience is that I’d specified the “I don’t need a plastic bag” option on my order but still got my sub shrouded in the usual longest-plastic-bag-in-the-world. It would also be great if you could make special requests above and beyond meat and cheese. For example, I like extra capsicum and my collegue (weirdly) likes to order cold deli meats and then get them heated with the cheese.

Not a biggie in the grand scheme of things though. And I love the way your sub comes with a detailed list of your order so you can check that everything you asked for is in there.

All-up? Nice work Subway. I’ll use this app again. Convenient as.

Editor in Chief at here SMNZ, I have a passion for social and digital media. When not writing and managing SMNZ I am the Head of Innovation at TAG The Agency, a digital ad agency and the Head of Sales and Marketing for End-Game, a software development agency. I'm also involved with a number of startups and I am always keen to support those that are bold enough to give things a go. Start something, better to try than to live wondering what if...


  1. Kaleb Reply

    The one gripe I have is not enough effort is made to help the user transfer the balance of their subcard to the app. Without this the user is also not eligible for sub vouchers.

    Also, the idea of an app like this goes against the tide of geolocation based apps who’s objective is to drive business to the location where upselling can be achieved. So while there is a question asking if a plastic bag is needed, why not have a button asking if you want a cookie or drink?

    If in fact this is there – I must be a tad blind and apologies for ^

    Other than that a very well put together app.


    1. @kerenyp Reply

      Thanks Caleb,

      Yeah, I’ve heard a couple of people talking about the balance transferring process being a little frustrating. Not sure if this is just a teething problem though?

      In terms of the upsell opportunities, the final two steps of the application are actually presenting an pretty compelling upsell – the first in an opt-in upgrade to a meal question and the next screen is asking if you’d like to add a cookie or chips (or any other of their sides). i reckon they do a pretty good job covering their bases here.


  2. Warren - Altaine Reply

    Hi Kaleb,

    I thought I would add in a few observations and thoughts:

    The balance for an existing SUBCARD comes across automatically when you “link” your card. There were a few teeting problems with a small number of password combinations at the start – but this issue was sorted out shortly after launch.

    Driving consumers to a location has its place for mass marketing programs or where the goal is to encourage or change consumer purchase patterns. The SUBWAY app does allow customers to opt in to receive SMS, email and “direct to phone” offers, some of which will be location based. But, the main aim of the app is to support customers in their everyday interaction with SUBWAY by providing convenience and ease of use.

    During the order sequence the app does provide prompts to upgrade to SUBWAY’s paid options as well as the ability to “make it a meal” – using the same style of button in place for choosing a plastic bag (or not).

    The final idea to keep in mind is that the app is the location – it is almost a store (restaurant) in your pocket. This is one of the intetesting aspects of the mobile app paradigm – there is no need to drive customers to a geographic location in order to engage with them.

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