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Subway takes bigger bite of mobile ordering with New York expansion


Subway joins the quickly blossoming list of quick-service restaurants making a bigger push into mobile by enabling customers to place orders via an application on their smartphones.

The sandwich chain was an early mover in mobile ordering, launching an app in 2012 with such capabilities for California locations. An expansion of that program has been expected and now appears to have arrived, with a report in the New York Post stating that Subway locations in Manhattan are testing an order-ahead app.

“The world is becoming more and more efficient, and with the launch of the Subway mobile app it will enable the customer to order on their mobile device and have it ready for pick up avoiding or lessening their wait time,” said Mike Cochrane , sales director at Atimi Software, Vancouver, Canada.

“Very handy for families or groups that have numerous different types of subs with various topping preferences,” he said. “The family can enter what they want on the app and it makes the process almost seamless.”

Mr. Cochrane is not affiliated with Subway and spoke based on his experience in mobile.

Subway did not respond to a request for comment.

Made to order
The Subway test is reportedly rolling out to a limited number of locations in Midtown Manhattan.

To insure that orders are fresh and prepared close to pick-up time, the app will alert a restaurant when a customer is nearing the store.

During the pilot phase, customers will need to ask at one of the locations for an access code to download the app.

The app will reportedly have a drop-down box enabling customers to choose a Subway location and view the menu and prices for that location.

The sandwich chain is also developing a payment app that is being powered by Paydiant (see story).

The brand will build in mobile payment and wallet features into its own branded app, and Paydiant’s technology uses QR codes to trigger payments.

Formula for success
Mobile ordering has quickly heated up in the first few months of 2014, with Panera, Taco Bell, Burger King, McDonald’s and Wendy’s having all announced plans to build or expand mobile ordering strategies. In many cases, ordering is being paired with payments and loyalty.

With many of these chains are experiencing sluggish sales, they are likely hoping that mobile ordering and payments will reduce waiting times for customers, thereby increasing loyalty and driving sales.

These restaurants also wish to repeat Starbucks’ success with its mobile payments app, which sees more than 14 percent of transactions taking place through its mobile app.

“Mobile payments and ordering are trying to make the purchasing of products as trouble free by eliminating the obstacles that would otherwise delay the purchase or perhaps not even happen where great effort would be expended,” Mr. Cochrane said.

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