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McDonald’s catches up, will finally offer mobile ordering next year

McDonald’s is one of the foremost fast food chains in the world, but until now, it has lagged behind in the key area of mobile ordering.

The fast food chain’s mobile app has steadily gained more features in recent months, and last year McDonald’s teased that it was experimenting with the idea. Now, Business Insider has reported that McDonald’s will finally begin to roll out proper mobile ordering next year.

Mickey D’s
Thew new mobile ordering technology, that lets consumers order ahead on their smartphones through the McDonald’s app and then pick up their food from the counter, will begin rolling out around the world next year. The debut will start with the US and a few other leading international markets, including Canada, France and the UK.

By 2018, consumers will be able to order through their smartphones at between 20,000 and 25,000 locations around the world.

McDonald’s had previously discussed mobile ordering as a possibility last year, but at the time, no official announcements accompanied the speculation. Since then, the company has tested out mobile ordering in a few closed betas around the US, but according to Ad Age, that program was halted earlier this year.

Now, after much hemming and hawing, the brand is finally giving in to the pressure of offering a fully realized mobile commerce experience.

Similar mobile ordering programs have long been in service at other comparable chains, most notable at Starbucks. The coffee chain’s already-in-place mobile ordering system works almost identically to the one proposed by McDonald’s, letting users order through their phones and skip the line, picking up their order once it is ready.

Mobile ordering
McDonald’s ran a pseudo-mobile ordering test program last year that involved a partnership with Postmates (see story). McDonald’s let consumers in New York order any item from the entire menu from one of 88 locations and have it delivered to their homes.

That program must have seen success, as it precipitated a larger turn towards stronger mobile commerce options for its consumers, letting them order digitally and pick up physically.

The move, while a bit behind other major food chains such as Chick-fil-a, which has made strong use of mobile ordering, McDonald’s is in a strong position, being one of the largest and most widely distributed franchises in the world.

Despite a lack of mobile ordering, McDonald’s has still seen strong mobile engagement from users. This summer, the brand revealed in its earnings call that it has seen 12 million installs of its mobile app as well as an increase in mobile coupon redemption (see story).

With that level of connection, McDonald’s stands to gain a significant boost in revenue and efficiency by leveraging the size of its mobile user base for mobile ordering, something that other brands have already seen considerable benefits from.