Quick service restaurants the nation over have adopted a new way to handle their business: Order-ahead mobile apps. The applications allow customers to place their orders ahead of time for pick up on site without waiting in line. Not only does this provide added convenience for the customer, it drives up revenue for the restaurant. Research conducted by BI Intelligence shows how fast food chains are using the apps to attract customers, increase loyalty by offering exclusive rewards and boost revenue. Restaurants currently offering mobile order-ahead services include Taco Bell, McDonalds, Pizza hut, Subway, Chick-fil-A and Burger King.
Taco Bell took the fast food industry by storm and launched the first order-ahead app on October 28, 2014, and early on it demonstrated signs of success. On average their order-ahead sales were seeing a 20% increase over sales made at the register. This is due to customers being more likely to add extra toppings and place group orders over the app. Within the first four months after launch Taco Bell's order-ahead app was downloaded over 2 million times across multiple platforms and 3 out of 4 locations took at least one mobile order on the first day. Google Play alone has seen the app downloaded over 1 million times holding an average rating of 4.0 by users. Upon opening the app customers are given options to sign up, sign in, or skip it altogether and make a one time order. For added convenience you can register your credit or debit card and even a gift card for quicker payment at checkout. Customers can also place orders from their location of choice.
While order-ahead apps offer opportunities for quick service restaurants to generate higher sales they come with risks. These services are relatively new in practice, and it will take time to adjust procedures to handle increased volume efficiently. A mismanaged order-ahead system could produce a decrease in customer satisfaction and reduce sales significantly.
The fast food industry is a lucrative market and has seen an increase in revenue year over year by billions of dollars in the US alone. It's surprising given the increased dependency on mobile technology that order-ahead services have only recently come to fruition. It's safe to assume that this was a profitable move for fast food chains nationwide and could become the new standard for quicker and more convenient service.