McDonald's Starting To Roll Out Mobile Ordering

You may soon be able to get the french fries of the golden arches soon via your smart phone.  According to Reuters, McDonald's Corporation is starting to test its U.S. mobile ordering app, hoping to avoid some of the initial troubles that have haunted fast food chains like Starbucks Corp.  Mobile ordering proved to be so popular for Starbucks, that it would create queues that would drive away walk-in customers who preferred not to wait it out.

"We can't impact the speed or the quality of our food," mentioned Jim Sappington, McDonald's executive vice president of operations, digital and technology.  He brings about the example of if mobile customers should have to wait for orders, "you get a question of 'Why did I use the app?'," he says.  "Our focus is to make the overall experience clearly better."

The company says that the automation enhancements should assist in reducing transaction times, error and free up employees to be able to bring food to tables or cars in spots that are designated for mobile order.  

So when can you expect to see this?  
The company plans to begin testing the mobile ordering process and payment app at 29 restaurants in Monterey and Salinas, California today.  After that, the pilot test will roll out to an additional 51 restaurants in Spokane, Washington, on March 20.  

A unique feature to the app will be that it will be able to track a customer's location to ensure that orders for one, get sent to the right restaurant, but that it is also timed so that food isn't left to it's own devices under heat lamps.  Then, when the customer arrives, the app will ask for confirmation and payment before sending any orders into the kitchen.  As one investor asked, "if they don't start your order until you pull in the lot, are you really gaining that much time?"  The finalized version of the app will also allow customers to choose table service, counter or drive-through pickup, or curbside delivery.  

Interestingly, McDonald's Chief Exec Steve Easterbrook mentions that if 20 percent of drive-through customers use curbside and another 20 percent use the lanes for pickup only, restaurants could serve another 20 cars per hour, which would lift business at U.S. drive-throughs that account for approximately 70 percent of sales in the country.

What do you think readers?