Mobile Changes Everything in Business — Or at Least at the Drive-Thru Window

Are you a fast food devotee? If so, then you should know that drive-through windows are starting to appear at a location near you — on your smartphone. And even if you aren’t, maybe you should change your mind, because a smart use of technology shows the power of mobile computing and access in virtually any kind of business.

Has your company started to embrace mobile?

If you have an information systems degree, you might want to pay attention because something like this could also show up on a work request at your inbox. A new app from Taco Bell has brought the entire ordering process to your touchscreen, according to Computerworld:

The app does what you might expect. It shows the complete menu, with all options on each item. You can choose exactly what you want before you get to the restaurant. When you arrive, you simply pick up your order. And because your credit card is registered with the app, your food will already be paid for when you pick it up.

Not only that, but the app will use data from your GPS and let the restaurant know when you’re close so it can prepare the order for pick-up, either at the counter or at the physical drive-through window. The interface can change depending on the time of day (different menus, for example) and pricing. The app will even give you directions. It’s not just a smart app, but a smart business move for the following reasons:

  • The app focuses on what customers want from the company. At the most basic level, they want to go to a location and obtain food, but chances are that they hate waiting in line. Taco Bell found a way to cut the wait using available technology.
  • The company leveraged types of technology it already had in-house. Point of sale systems used in the stores have the same basic design: hit buttons that show the food and it gets added to the order.
  • Taco Bell gets a competitive advantage out of satisfying customers in a new way, at least until direct competitors offer something equivalent. (Chipotle Mexican Grill also has an app that lets customers order a meal and then pick it up.) If someone is looking to minimize the time needed to order and pick up food, not having to wait at the store is a bonus.
  • By letting customers enter their own orders, both chains reduce the amount of work that cashiers do, freeing them to handle other aspects of customer service, like getting food to customers more quickly.
    Both Taco Bell and Chipotle have embraced mobile business in a way that marks them as forward-thinking and yet does not undermine their traditional ways of doing business. Reportedly, McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A are testing apps and KFC is working on one for the U.K. Has your company started to embrace mobile? And when departments come to you, will you have already thought through some of the issues and have some good answers?