McDonald's Is Rolling Out Mobile Ordering and Self-Serve Kiosks Across the US

brought to you by WBR Insights

As one of the world's largest fast food chains, McDonald's serves nearly 68 million people every day - that's more than the population of Great Britain. Now, the famous burger giant is using digital technology to offer its US diners new ways to order their favorite sandwiches.

McDonald's US has been way behind the curve so far when it comes to offering digital ordering methods to hungry customers. International branches of the brand, such as those in the UK, Canada, and Australia, have had these kinds of systems in place for years and are now fully integrated with the technology. France and Germany have also begun to see great results with digital ordering.

McDonald's US is now looking to finally address this disparity by upgrading 1,000 stores across the country every quarter - for eight to nine quarters - with this new technology.

Digital Ordering Kiosks

The first of these new options involves large touchscreen devices placed in the dining area of each McDonald's restaurant.

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Guests can skip the queue at the counter by placing their order on one of these devices, and then take a seat while their food is prepared. Once ready, a McDonald's team member will deliver the food to the table.

On the screens, customers can choose from the full range of McDonald's menu items, including limited edition foods, large/medium/supersize meals, and desserts. They can even make alterations to their order such as removing pickles or adding extra sauce. Once they have selected their items, customers pay with a credit or debit card, take their receipt, and wait for the food to arrive.

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Mobile Ordering

Another way McDonald's is giving its customers more ways to order is by allowing them to use their smartphones.

Customers can place their order via the McDonald's mobile app, and then collect it at the restaurant, or even have it brought to their car curbside at a prearranged time. The mobile app has the same functionality as the in-store kiosks, with all the same options available. McDonald's is keen to make sure that customers get a comparable experience, whether they order at the counter, drive-thru, or using one of the new digital solutions.

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Another way McDonald's is looking to leverage the power of its mobile ordering system is by exploring options around offering home delivery. The company already offers this service in Asia, where it accounts for 10% of the total sales in that market. However, seeing as 75% of the population in its top five markets (UK, France, US, Germany, and Canada) are within three miles of a McDonald's restaurant - and 85% are within five miles - these regions have not been prioritized for a home delivery option before now.

With home ordering apps such as Grubhub increasing in popularity in recent years, not to mention the number of takeout restaurants with their own bespoke apps, now seems like the ideal time for McDonald's to start reconsidering its delivery stance in the US. The company is currently testing out various delivery models - both in-house and with third-party providers - so it remains to be seen whether hungry Americans will be able to get a Big Mac brought to their door anytime soon.

Final Thoughts

It may seem strange that McDonald's US has been so slow to embrace new digital ordering technologies - especially as the company's international operations are already deploying them in full swing. However, with the United States making up a large proportion of McDonald's total global customer base, the company can only benefit from exploring as many new ways of delivering great service as possible.

"If you think about only two years ago, if you were a customer there were two ways you can get served at McDonald's," said McDonald's CEO, Steve Easterbrook. "You walked to the front counter and line up, and take your drink, and find a table, or you go through the drive-through. We're introducing many options. They can order through mobile, they can come curbside and we'll run it out, as well as the existing traditional ways. You can pay in different ways and customize your food in different ways. I think we're trying to add more choice and variety."

McDonald's position as an industry leader will undoubtedly also help drive these technologies forwards, to the benefit of the industry as a whole.

Technology-driven in-store experiences are set to be hot topics at Future Stores Miami 2019, taking place in February at the JW Marriot Miami, Florida.

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