May 6, 2014

When I Get Where I'm Going

Restaurant magazines and websites are bursting with articles about digital payment and 
ordering. Unfortunately many are lumping the two things together as one process.

The truth is, major QSRs should have mobile payment now, not next year. Starbucks was 
an early adopter of mobile payment that now represents 14 percent of their sales.

The mobile ordering part can come along later because it’s unlikely that pre-ordering is 
going to work in a quick service restaurant. I’ve talked to many McDonald’s Operators 
about this idea and we all have years of experience doing things like making up a 100 
sandwich order for the local Little League only to have the team parent show up 45 min.
late for the pickup.

The reason? Customers just don’t know when they are going to get to McDonald’s or any 
other QSR. There are just too many variables in our lives. Pre-ordering is fraught with 
expenses for the restaurant and disappointments for the customer.

Should QSRs eventually have digital pre-ordering? Maybe, but it’s hard to see how it 
could ever be a significant sales builder. If pre-ordering was an opportunity for chains like 
McDonald’s why hasn’t there been internet ordering? The technology has been available 
for a decade or longer.

The danger is this arena is that the people designing these systems are most often unfamiliar
with what goes on in a QSR and don’t know the difference between a hamburger / chicken 
chain and a Pizza Hut. Unfortunately most of the decision makers on the corporate side aren’t restaurant people. Some chains will try to combine payment, ordering , social media, and loyalty rograms into one big platform that will end up crashing like a health care website.

The time has come for mobile payment but only people who don’t understand QSRs will 
plunge into mobile ordering.
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