When it comes to mobile app testing, sometimes even the biggest companies sometimes start small. Case in point: McDonald’s, who has been quietly testing their new mobile application at a small number of restaurant locations in the Columbus, Georgia-area.
Currently known as “McD Ordering,” the app serves as an order-ahead option with a stored mobile payment system. The app links to a credit or debit card and can be charged automatically when a user scans the QR code pertaining to their order upon arriving at the restaurant.
In short, this app allows for customers to place an order, pay for an order, and pickup their food and drinks without ever having to wait in line or interact with a cashier. It does so in a system that allows users to travel without any cash or a credit card on-hand. It also offers users the capability to place an order off-site that won’t be made by a McDonald’s employee until the customer has reached the restaurant and made their payment. Food and drinks can even be delivered curbside.
The McD Ordering app is available for download in both the iOS and Android stores, though it has yet to be publicized by the company. Of their more than 14,000 locations in the United States alone, McDonald’s has chosen a cluster of just twenty-two restaurants for which this pilot program is underway.
“We haven’t really advertised it yet, but once we do, it’s going to get big,” declared Gabriel Perez, a shift manager at one of the Columbus, GA locations participating in the app’s pilot program. According to Perez, around ten customers per day have been utilizing the app at his location.
This isn’t McDonald’s Corporation’s first foray into either mobile ordering or payment applications. The company previously introduced a mobile ordering app in several foreign markets, and McDonald’s accepts the Isis mobile wallet app at many of their U.S. locations. There is also a separate McDonald’s app, the “McD App,” that currently presents coupon and loyalty offers to customers in different, non-overlapping test markets. However, this is the first instance of a true McDonald’s-branded mobile payments app in any U.S. market.
McDonald’s also isn’t the first fast-food/quick-service chain to have experimented with mobile payment technology. Not all have taken hold, though more of these applications are surely on the way, with Chick-fil-A and Tim Horton’s recently launching mobile payment apps of their own. This April, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced that their own mobile app accounted for roughly 14% of the company’s U.S. in-store payments.
According to a top McDonald’s Corporation executive, who has knowledge of the project but is not authorized to discuss it publically, the company’s main focus in the project is centered on streamlining the customer experience on the whole, rather than enabling mobile payments in and of themselves. The executive believes that the core appeal of the app will be the user’s ability to save customized orders, skipping the conversations and the lines required by rudimentary in-store and drive-thru experiences.
Not to be ignored, the transaction data collected by the McD Ordering app will help McDonald’s to better track customer purchasing habits. The company can then convert this information into coupons or other offers, potentially through their McD App technology, in order to better target specific audiences.