Taco Bell is the latest chain to introduce a smartphone app that will make mobile ordering and payment easier. The Irvine, California, company has been beta testing its mobile system at five locations and is ready to launch the application for customer use elsewhere.
There is an app for everything and soon there will be one for every large chain. Starbucks has the most-used mobile app in the United States. Pizza Hut, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands which owns Taco Bell, already launched an app. So, did Chipotle. McDonald’s and Chick-Fil-a are both testing ordering and payment mobile app now.
The new Taco Bell smartphone app will let customers place an order, customize it and pay with a credit card or gift card. Once the user enters a restaurant location for picking up the order, a nifty GPS locator in the app tells the kitchen when to estimate the customer’s arrival so the food is fresh and hot.
One aspect that it will not save time on is picking up the order. The customer will have to either get in the drive-thru queue or go inside and wait in line to collect their purchase.
Some chains have apps that take care of this problem. They allow the user to describe their car so the restaurant workers can bring the food directly out or click something in the mobile app to let the restaurant know the person arrived. California Pizza Kitchen is one chain using this methodology to speed take-out orders in many locations.
Ordering via the latest mobile app – or an online counterpart – offers is the ability to introduce ways to customize orders that are not easily communicated on the drive-thru order board at Taco Bell or other chains. By outlining the specific ingredients in an item, which is usually available on the apps, purchasers know to specify “no onions,” “add guacamole” or other customizations. They know the order was understood (something that does not always happen in a drive-thru line).
Taco Bell chose to develop its own app, as many large chains have done, rather than contracting with an existing mobile ordering option. According to Taco Bell’s model lead Jeff Jenkins, getting 10 million people to download his company’s app puts a portal to Taco Bell in 10 million pockets.
Small restaurants and chains that would not have the capital to invest in their own system can compete in the mobile and online app world. There are several companies, like Grub Hub and ChowNow, which enable online and mobile ordering for many restaurants.
One drawback in the move to mobile ordering and payments by so many companies is security. There were rumors that Starbucks app had a security problem last month. While there was no indication of malicious activity, the company rushed out an update to their app. An additional security threat is transmission of location data and other information to third parties. The trade-off may be worth it to someone craving that chalupa.
Regardless of which restaurant chain, on-demand ordering is here to stay. So, those who want to “Live Más” with Taco Bell food can use the latest mobile ordering app to introduce and pay for their request.
By Dyanne Weiss