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McDonalds joins the mobile order-ahead craze – Business Insider


Mobile Order Ahead VolumeBI Intelligence

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McDonalds has announced plans to add mobile order-and-pay capabilities to its mobile app in 2017, joining the likes of Starbucks, Domino’s, Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell and Dunkin Donuts.

In 2017, customers at 20,000 locations in the US and certain international locations such as Australia, Canada, France, and the UK will be able to use the feature, a figure which includes franchise locations. 

As a late entrant, McDonalds’ app must drive new innovations to compete in an increasingly crowded market. 

  • McDonalds’ app is focused on using mobile to speed ordering across multiple channels. For instance, users can order on their mobile phone and skip lines in-store – picking up inside the store or via curbside delivery. At the drive through, customers ordering on their device can verbally provide a code to pick up their order. In-store kiosks will recognize customers’ app profile to display favorite orders and payment methods.
  • The retailer must also watch its competition for emerging key features.  Starbucks has proven integration with loyalty programs drives repeat volume – the app now accounts for 27% of total in-store purchasing. Taco Bell has found success with gamification – a program allowed users who shared the app with others via social media to receive a free Taco Bell Freeze. Looking for similar successes from rival app providers like Dunkin’ Donuts, CVS Pharmacy and Walmart will be key to remaining competitive as user expectations change.   

Looking ahead, QSRs like McDonalds will act more like payment companies. In fact, in 2014 Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz went as far as to suggest that licensing the company’s mobile payments technology to other merchants was a possibility, according to Market Watch. In McDonalds’ case, its unclear whether development was in-house, or with partners like white-label wallet provider Paydiant — the latter may take licensing off the table. Order ahead will drive $38 billion at QSRs by 2020, BI Intelligence estimates. With a pot this large, everyone is jostling McDonalds for a seat at the table – from payments companies like Square and PayPal to mobile wallet providers like Apple, Google, and Samsung. 


Leading QSRs in the U.S. are beginning to adopt these platforms at an accelerated pace and are benefiting from them. Taco Bell sees 30% higher average order values on mobile compared to in-store, and Starbucks’ Mobile Order & Pay already represents 10% of total transactions at high-volume stores, directly contributing to increased company sales.

Mobile order-ahead is still in its early days, but will be a $38 billion industry by 2020, accounting for 10.7% of total QSR industry sales. This will be driven by full adoption among the top QSRs in the US, the growth of mobile commerce, QSR adoption through aggregators like Grubhub, loyalty programs, higher average order values, and new buy buttons.

BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed Mobile Order-Ahead Report that profiles the companies that have proved the mobile order-ahead concept and analyzes the trends contributing to this new industry’s growth.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Mobile order-ahead apps — platforms that enable consumers to remotely purchase menu items for in-store restaurant pickup — are on the rise among quick-service restaurants (QSRs). We expect sales on these platforms to reach $38 billion by 2020, representing a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 57%.
  • Mobile order-ahead will ultimately have an additive effect on the QSR industry. Mobile ordering platforms have been proven to intensify customer loyalty, increase purchase frequency, and lift average ticket sizes through order customization and easier checkout options. This means that mobile ordering is not a simple substitution for in-store purchasing, but a channel that can enhance the lifetime value of QSR customers. This makes mobile order-ahead a critical channel contributing to the growth of the QSR industry.
  • Alternative commerce solutions will help propel mobile ordering. Aggregators like Grubhub will onboard smaller fast-casual restaurants into the mobile ecosystem by offering them an existing app to integrate into, lowering the upfront costs of creating a mobile channel of their own. And in-store self-service kiosks will help popularize remote ordering and accustom users to less traditional forms of payment that don’t require a cash register.

In full, the report:

  • Forecasts the growth of the mobile order-ahead industry in the US from 2015 to 2020, including its share of total QSR sales.
  • Profiles brands that are leading the migration to mobile ordering.
  • Examines the alternative commerce solutions that could help popularize mobile order-ahead.
  • Explains the risks and drawbacks to launching a mobile commerce platform.
  • Assesses the ways both large and small brands can create a mobile order-ahead platform.
  • Determines which types of fast-casual chains are in the best position to benefit from mobile order-ahead.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide, choose one of these options:

  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of mobile order-ahead.

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