The Economist has an interesting story about how McDonald’s is pushing into mobile apps and digital ordering systems. The company is planning to introduce mobile ordering and payment in 25,000 restaurants by the end of 2018.
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It is late but it is at last jumping on the digital bandwagon, says John Gordon, a restaurant expert at Pacific Management Consulting Group, who points out that even Dunkin’ Donuts, a doughnut chain, offers an advance order-and-pay app. Starbucks, the world’s biggest coffee chain, launched its app in 2009 and by autumn 2013 was making 11% of its sales through mobile channels.
I’ve previously written about the mobile efforts of Starbucks, and many of the same arguments apply for McDonald’s. There are clear benefits for big consumer brands to invest in mobile apps since apps typically increase the average order size per customer and make the check-out process faster. Both of those things are major benefits for fast-food restaurants.
For repeat customers, just having an easy way to re-order the same meal can be enough of a reason to use the app. For example, Starbucks’ customers have chosen easy re-ordering as one of the most important reasons to use the app.
Additionally, mobile apps can enable a stronger customer loyalty program and McDonald’s is working on improving that at the same time. Therefore, it is not surprising that many articles are asking why it took McDonald’s so long to start investing in mobile apps since the benefits should be explicit in their business (e.g. Business Insider, Mashable).
Previously McDonald’s has experimented with digital kiosks at restaurants, but according to the company, they were considered too expensive. McDonald’s has had digital ordering kiosks in 7,000 locations around the world, and the cost per restaurant has been around 125,000 dollars.
PS. Starbucks has also had some trouble with their Mobile Order & Pay since their stores have not always been able to keep up with the high volume of orders coming through the mobile app.
Perttu Tolvanen is a Web Technologies & E-Commerce Expert at North Patrol. Perttu assists clients on early-phase service design, defining requirements, and in technology selections.