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Taco Bell taps courier service to begin mobile delivery rollout

Taco Bell is partnering with courier service DoorDash to deliver the Mexican fast food chain’s products to customers in California and Dallas who place orders via the DoorDash mobile application or site.

The team-up with the two-year-old business points to Taco Bell’s growing initiative of cultivating a nationwide delivery service, where consumers can order meals via their smartphones and have them brought to their homes or offices. As major players in the food and beverage industry, such as Starbucks, ramp up rollouts of mobile delivery, other marketers are playing catch-up by testing smaller markets initially.

“Delivery is our number one request from fans – we see it on social media and hear it in our restaurants,” said Lawrence Kim, director of digital commerce and on demand at Taco Bell, Irvine, CA. “We’re thrilled to bring that experience to life in select markets.

“We’re also encouraging fans to share their feedback on social media using #TacoBellDelivery to help determine which market we bring delivery to next.”

Fast food and mobile
More bricks-and-mortar restaurants are realizing the potential of offering their menus on mobile apps and enabling customers to order directly from smartphones or tablets. This strategy can work well via the brand’s own app, or a third-party solution such as GrubHub or Seamless.

Taco Bell fans in more than 90 cities across California, as well as Dallas, can now order their favorite tacos, salads, burritos and chalupas via the DoorDash app or Web site. The delivery fee is $3.99.

However, delivery options are only available from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., meaning late-night snackers may not be able to get their fill of Mexican food.

After users place an order via DoorDash, the platform’s app will direct a driver to visit the nearest Taco Bell to pick up the food. More than 200 locations in Dallas and California will be equipped to handle this increased traffic.

DoorDash, which has previously worked with major chains such as the Cheesecake Factory and California Pizza Kitchen, claimed test deliveries took approximately 38 minutes.

Taco Bell is hoping to expand the delivery program while DoorDash continues adding more drivers in additional cities nationwide.

The quick service marketer has been placing a spotlight on mobile in the past few months as it attempts to cater to consumers’ wishes for instant gratification.

In January, Taco Bell drove downloads of its mobile app and ramped up awareness of its mobile ordering function by tempting customers with a free Doritos Locos Taco with each mobile purchase made during the month (see story).

This past February, the taco chain heated up sales thanks to its mobile ordering app, which saw the average order come in at 20 percent higher than in-store orders (see story).

“Taco Bell has always been about value and convenience — as those definitions evolve with our consumers, integration across all touch points in and out of the restaurants is key,” Mr. Kim said.

Mobile delivery’s rise
Mobile delivery models have seen a monumental rise over the past several months, in part thanks to other major food brands’ decisions to team up with third-party platforms.

In May, McDonald’s partnered with mobile app Postmates for a delivery pilot at 88 New York locations, coinciding with its business turnaround plan to increase profits and focus on consumer-driven decisions (see story).

Chipotle Mexican Grill has also teamed up with Postmates to offer delivery in over 60 cities, with costs ranging from $4.99 to $7.99.

Consumers can certainly expect to see many more QSRs and bricks-and-mortar restaurants join the fold this year, as brands race to keep up with their fans’ growing mobile-oriented demands.

“We’ll continue to test and learn at the speed of the on-demand economy,” Mr. Kim said. “Our vision is to expand as quickly and effectively as our partners and restaurants will allow.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York