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Burger King takes a bigger bite of mobile with ordering test

Burger King is skipping to the head of the line in mobile with a new ordering service enabling application users to select what they want to order, pay for it and watch a count down to when their order is ready.

The new service is reportedly already available at 10 Burger King locations in Germany, with another seven scheduled to go online next week. Mobile payment system Opentabs is powering the program.

“Until there is a clear leader in the space companies across industries will have to pick and choose which payment methods they accept,” said Michael Weaver, senior vice president of business development at Waterfall. “While using their own proprietary app method is interesting they now face other issues like driving app downloads and including incentives for people to keep the app and to use it.

“It begs the question, is Burger King solving a problem that does not really exist?,” he said. “If the goal is obtain a better relationship with consumers in mobile, perhaps they should consider incentives and traditional CRM.

“This is being done now with incredible results, happy customers, and measurable return.”

Hot topic
The Opentabs app has been around since 2012. Users must first register a debit card or credit card with the app before being able to place an order.

At participating Burger Kings, users can pick up their orders from a separate line.

Mobile ordering is hot topic so far in 2015, with numerous restaurants chains announcing their own mobile ordering services or plans for them.

At the same time, there is rapid consolidation taking place among the third-party ordering apps, with Yelp acquiring Eat24 (see story) and GrubHub picking up DiningIn and Restaurant on the Run recently (see story).

For fast food burger chains such as Burger King, mobile ordering is seen as a way to strengthen relationships with the young, mobile-savvy consumers who make up their biggest target demographic. With this group displaying a growing interest in the slightly more upscale offerings of chains such as Shake Shack, QSRs are exploring multiple strategies to keep existing customers in the fold and attract new ones.

Operational challenges
The challenge for these chains with mobile ordering is bringing backend operations in line. There have been reports that, in some cases, customers pre-ordering via mobile are waiting longer for their food than those ordering at the cash register.

The test with Opentabs in Germany is the latest example of how Burger King is ramping up its mobile strategy.

Last year, Burger King said it was making a significant commitment via a new digital platform expected to enable it to quickly scale up with mobile offers, payments, order-ahead and other features (see story).

“There seems to momentum around Apple Pay and in general paying using a device rather than at the counter,” Mr. Weaver said. “It is still early days and fragmentation will be the biggest challenge for retailers.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York