In the past few years, many fast-food and take-out restaurants in the United States, have all launched their very own apps for smartphones, that allow the customers to not just place their order ahead of time, but also specifies a location for the pick-up apart from allowing to pay in advance.
Taco Bell, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, and Dunkin’ Donuts are a few restaurants to name, which follow this methodology of mobile order and pay. Now, it is time for the biggest fast-food franchise of them all, McDonald’s, to finally catch up with this technology. The popular burger joint symbolized by the golden arches are trying their best to catch up with the rest of the fast food industry.
Order-and-Pay via App
McDonald’s is finally set for the launch of its new order-and-pay mobile technology, which means that the customers will now be able to order their food and pay for it right there from their smartphones. A spokesperson of McDonald’s said that the company will be rolling out this technology sometime next year in the United States and in other international lead markets, including the United Kingdom, France, Canada, and Australia. The spokesperson also said that the company is aiming to make this technology available globally to their 20,000 – 25,000 franchises by 2018.
There is no doubt that mobile ordering is the biggest boon for the fast-food industry. However, McDonalds, in spite of being the biggest fast-food chain in the world, has surprisingly lagged behind its peers in adopting this new technology and has probably lost out on a big opportunity. The other companies like Chick-fil-A and Starbucks have already gained massive success by offering this mobile ordering service. Apart from having many advantages to both the customers and the restaurant chains, the main benefit of mobile ordering is that it cuts down the wait times of the customer and also improves order accuracy.
The CEO of McDonald’s had previously talked about mobile ordering, sometime in July 2015, saying that the customers will be able to place their orders in the future by using the app of the fast-food chain. Since then, the testing has been carried out in countries like Thailand, apart from a handful of locations in Europe including Austria. The company had released a mobile app which included menus, nearby locations along with discounts and coupons. When the customers will arrive to pick up their ordered food, the restaurant will be notified about their arrival through their geo-location services which will be tied to their phones.
According to an Ad Age report, the burger chain had started testing their mobile ordering feature some time back in the year 2014, at almost 22 locations in Columbus, Georgia, but it later ended the test. This testing involved using the app to place an order, but the payment was handled through the QR codes, which were scanned during the pickups and then instructed the app to charge a payment by credit or debit card that has been linked with it. The CEO of Conlumino, a retail consulting firm, has said that this is not new technology, but it is something which nowadays, should be fairly standard.
Installing Digital Kiosks
Even though McDonald’s has not yet rolled out their mobile ordering feature, it has been adding digital kiosks to its franchises which will be performing the same functions as that of mobile ordering. However, it may cost a lot more. These kiosks, which are available in about 7,000 restaurants across the globe, cost almost $125,000 per restaurant to be installed.
Like these kiosks, even mobile ordering will allow the customers to skip standing in long lines at the register and avoid exchanging money or even interacting with the employees.
This is possibly a huge advantage for the time-strapped people who want to grab their food on the go, which makes up to a majority of the McDonald’s customers, considering that almost 70% of them order through the drive-thru.
No More Standing in Queues
According to the officials, the most disliked part of the customers and probably, the slow bit at the fast-food chain is having the people selecting what they want, and then standing in queues to order, and then wait for the food. Like it is done at Starbucks, many people prefer to order what they want in advance and then come to pick the products when they are ready.
It looks like the customers are already interested in interacting with McDonald’s via their phones. According to the information that was shared by the company with Ad Age, Even without the mobile order-and-pay, McDonald’s has already had an impressive 14 million app downloads. In the long term, the mobile order-and-pay is sure to help in alleviating the growing labor wage costs, which are currently becoming a burden to the company, by just cutting down on the number of employees who are needed at the register. It will also give McDonald’s an opportunity to track the behavior of the consumer along with the buying patterns and promote offers and deals.
An official at McDonald’s has said that the company is aiming at providing the customers with convenience and choice, which is a very important part of the customer restaurant experience at McDonald’s. To work on this, the fast-food restaurant chain is planning on accelerating its investments in the next two years, in the digital way that includes both the app and the kiosks.