When Burger King introduced its classic “Have It Your Way” ad campaign, it was talking about customizing what you have for lunch. Now the phrase is taking on a new meaning for restaurant chains as mobile technology allows customers to submit orders via smartphones ahead of time.
Blooomberg reports that mobile order-ahead options are maybe too successful for the restaurants that have begun to offer them. Many “were caught off guard with just how big of a hit the technology is turning out to be.” The obvious upside is convenience – instead of standing in line to order, and then waiting again for the order to be filled, diners call in advance and their meals or beverages are ready and waiting when they arrive. But there have been some unforeseen challenges:
- At Starbucks, where nearly 1,200 stores have mobile ordering, lines to pick up orders sometimes give walk-up customers an impression that the store is over-crowded, causing them to skip a visit.
- Responding to some early mix-ups, TGI Fridays is hiring what might be called mobile-order concierges at each outlet. Their sole task is making sure the orders move from the kitchen to the pick-up counter, promptly and to the right customer.
- Chick-fil-A is speeding the process at some locations by running mobile orders out to arriving customers’ cars instead of asking them to come inside for a pickup. It’s a back-to-the-future solution reminiscent of how old-fashioned ‘50s drive-in restaurants used to do business.
- Chipotle is letting mobile-order customers reserve a pick-up time in advance, which it says promises to cut their waits in half.
The rewards of getting it right clearly are impressive – mobile payments firm Crone Consulting told Bloomberg that if done right, mobile order-aheads can increase a store’s sales by 30%. Consequently, digital advance orders could account for half of all quick-serve meals five years from now. Currently, fewer than 10% of chains offer mobile advance ordering.
Consultant Richard Crone warned that this is a double-edged opportunity. “Product, process, and people have to be re-engineered to pull this off.” And if restaurants don’t get it right, “we could see a bunch of stores actually going out of business.”
Need we point out that market research is also going through transformative times that are full of opportunities and risks? The stakes are high, and there’s no denying that “product, process and people have to be re-engineered” for research success. Get it wrong, and you could lose your lunch.
Luckily, the shift to true-mobile consumer research doesn’t have to be anywhere as logistically wrenching and fraught with risk as the shift to mobile restaurant orders. MFour gives you proven, advanced-mobile solutions you can turn to right away. For many users, MFourDIY® – the only all-mobile do-it-yourself research platform – is an ideal way to embrace change and meet today’s mobile consumers where they live. For more info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.