Following other national restaurant chains like McDonald’s, Jersey Mike's and Chick-fil-A recent announcements about going mobile, Taco Bell announced this week they are preparing to roll out mobile ordering nationwide later this year, a move that will likely add more fuel to the trend in the quick-service market.
Taco Bell began developing an app that allows guests to order ahead using smartphones about two and a half years ago, and recently has conducted a controlled beta test in five units in Orange County, Calif. Within a few weeks, the test will be opened up to select consumers to work out operational challenges, but company officials announced they expect to roll out the platform later this year.
The Taco Bell app opens first to the menu, but then immediately allows guests to find their closest Taco Bell, so pricing specific to that location appears, as well as hours and directions. Customers can customize menu selections, and the app offers “smart upsell” opportunities, suggesting a drink or dessert, for example, if the user hasn’t ordered one. Users can save their favorite orders, customized to their liking, for next time.
Guests can load Taco Bell gift cards or use their credit cards to pay. The order goes directly to the restaurant’s POS system and appears on the kitchen display system specifically as a mobile order.
To ensure that the food is prepared hot when the guest arrives, the system uses a GPS locator to recognize when the person placing the order is near, giving the kitchen a signal to fire the order. The guest then has the option of in-store pick up or using the drive thru, but they don’t have to make that decision until they arrive at the restaurant. If the drive thru line is long, for example, they can tap “in-store” pickup and go inside. Jenkins said a separate pick up window for mobile orders will be available to allow those guests to avoid the line.
If using the drive thru, guests simply stop at the call box and announce their arrival by name — “Mobile order for John” — cueing the kitchen to prepare the meal and have it ready at the pick up window.
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