Taco Bell will be testing a mobile phone-based ordering system at five Southern California locations later this year and plans to expand nationwide by the end of the year.
Taco Bell began developing the app that allows you to order ahead using smartphones about two and a half years ago, but just recently conducted a controlled beta test in five restaurant in Orange County. In a few weeks, the test will be opened up to select consumers to work out any technical challenges, but company officials expect to roll out the full working app later this year.
The app shows the complete menu, with all the options on each item. You can choose exactly what you want before you get to Taco Bell. When you arrive, you pick up your order by drive-thru or going into the restaurant. A separate pick-up line will exist for mobile orders to speed up the process. Also, you can pay through the app.
The app also has a feature in which you can place an order even if you’re too far away to pick it up quickly. The GPS in your phone will notify the Taco Bell when you get close, alerting the staff to start preparing your order.
The target for the new app is for young millenials. Taco Bell’s mobile lead says, “For these kids, it’s not if you have a smartphone; it’s which smartphone do you have. If you can get 10 million people to download your app, you’re putting a portal to Taco Bell in 10 million pockets.”
According to recent National Restaurant Association research, 74 percent of consumers aged 18 to 34 say they would order takeout/delivery on a mobile device, if it were available.
Greg Fancher, Taco Bell’s chief information officer, said the chain sees mobile as a platform on which to build. “We’re looking at scale and flexibility,” he said. “We’re focused on mobile now, but preparing for what happens next,” including creating a similar system specifically for tablets or ordering on a desktop device.
McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A are reportedly testing a mobile app, and Smashburger has indicated mobile ordering is on deck for rollout this year.
Officials at Chipotle Mexican Grill, which has offered mobile ordering since 2009, said last week they plan to invest $10 million to further develop its mobile platform, including adding mobile payment.