Dunkin’ Donuts is launching a mobile order-ahead feature through Google’s Waze mapping and navigation application — the first time a retailer or brand has partnered with Waze to deliver that capability.
Order Ahead is being offered to Dunkin' Donuts' DD Perks rewards club members, and like similar features from other brands, allows a customer to order and pay for a beverage or food before they arrive at a Dunkin' Donuts location, and then skip the line to pick up their purchase when they arrive.
Users of Order Ahead must first download the latest version of the Dunkin' Donuts mobile app, though the ordering occurs within the Waze app. Google only recently enabled this new feature in Waze, and likely will be using it to support order-ahead capabilities for many other types of merchants.
It looks like Dunkin' Donuts is following Starbucks into the order-ahead era, although it seems apparent from reports about this launch that the timing of it may have had more to do with Google being ready to enable this sort of feature in the Waze app. Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks have been fierce competitors at times, at least in consumer perceptions, so it is possible Dunkin' also was looking to enable something similar to Starbucks Mobile & Pay once that app started to gain a following.
For Dunkin', this might seem like a roundabout way of allowing its rewards members to start placing its orders ahead of time, but the retailer appears to be investing in the notion that a lot people use the Waze app to find the nearest Dunkin' Donuts location to satisfy their cruller cravings, and will now in the same moment go ahead and place an order to be ready when they arrive.
This might have also been an easy decision for Dunkin' in that it’s getting to enable the feature in exchange for a larger advertising spend on the Waze app, and not having to invest extra dollars in a separate project to develop its own order-ahead feature. It's an interesting arrangement between companies that have been partners for at least five years before this launch, but it's worth wondering if Google will accept similar terms from other retailers interested in launching order-ahead through Waze if it helps the app's popularity to quickly grow.
Working with Waze could help other retailers roll out this sort of capability much sooner than they might be able to on their own. However, as they do so, they should be aware of the potential price to pay if the feature succeeds for them: Starbucks found out only after it launched order-ahead that the foot traffic patterns created by heavy usage of the feature were causing traffic jams inside its stores. Starbucks has quickly addressed that situation, but it should still serve as a reminder to Dunkin' and other order-ahead aspirants that m-commerce success may require them to make a few adjustments.