McDonald’s has recently made a few large-scale changes to work its way into the digital competition in the food industry. Most notably, the company released a mobile app for a faster and more convenient way for customers to place orders. The app uses customers’ location to ensure that orders are ready upon pick-up at the closest McDonald’s location.
Due to the overwhelming number of McDonald’s locations across the U.S. and worldwide, the company has a large advantage in the fast food industry. As shown by the increase of digital strategies and boosted revenues among several restaurant chains, the introduction of mobile app ordering should logically increase sales for McDonald’s as well. Mobile app ordering is fast and convenient for customers; in the smartphone generation, this caters to the young population that would rather use an app than have to talk to people to order a meal. Additionally, it increases customers’ ability to customize their orders and reduces the probability of human error. This allows McDonald’s to provide an enhanced experience for its customers.
Mobile app ordering is not a recent idea– in fact, Starbucks, Domino’s, and Panera Bread were some of the most notable early adopters. Waiting until others tested out the concept had its pros and cons for McDonald’s; while some labeled the fast food giant as slow to catch up, McDonald’s focused more on execution and learning from earlier companies’ mistakes. For example, Starbucks initially had customer satisfaction issues with congested stores and longer wait times because mobile orders were clashing with in-store orders. The McDonald’s app is even more complex because of its technology platform and diverse menu options, but has come up with a solution to reduce inevitably longer wait times with the introduction of mobile app ordering. By selecting the curbside pickup option, mobile customers can park in a designated parking spot, where an employee can bring them their order. This helps limit a congested drive-thru line and prevents turning away potential customers who drive by; this is important because a large percentage of McDonald’s revenue comes from the drive-thru. Customers can also pick up mobile orders inside the store itself or in the drive-thru line; by splitting the flow of mobile customers, stores can manage additional orders more efficiently.
To further McDonald’s digital changes, the corporation is also introducing in-store digital kiosks as a method of ordering (in select stores, currently as a pilot program). This aims for higher efficiency, with a faster ordering process and higher order accuracy rates, without the presence of human cashiers. With this comes a labor redistribution as well, with cashiers being moved to table service positions, allowing them to engage directly with customers to improve their McDonald’s experience.
Mobile app ordering sounds like an easy way to satisfy customers and increase efficiency, but McDonald’s is still struggling with some of the same issues its competitors are facing. Additionally, with the UberEats partnership that allows customers to deliver McDonald’s directly to their homes, the company is still strategizing for the mobile app to gain popularity. Mobile app ordering is currently available in select stores, but McDonald’s plans to expand the feature to all of its U.S. stores by the end of 2017.