Most Diners Finding Mobile Order and Pay Un-Appetizing?

Man holding smart phone with colorful application icons comming out

Time-strapped consumers typically look for ways to avoid checkout lines and traffic back-ups, making mobile order and pay a necessary feature for quick service restaurants. But as the following article reports, mobile order and pay smartphone apps do not appear to be attracting a high percentage of hungry patrons.

In the brave, relatively new world of mobile orderingStarbucks is considered a pioneer, and they’ve certainly done the heavy lifting—after a considerable amount of tinkering with the product, any fan of the brand not using the app to pay ahead and pickup is, quite simply, missing out.

The process is simple, and easy to learn. You download the app, become a Starbucks Rewards member if you’re not already, top up your account with a few bucks, and get going. The days of waiting in line, only to stand around waiting some more? They’re over—if you want it. In a recent report, it was estimated that just 30 percent of customers were taking advantage of any kind of mobile payment capability at all, when visiting a Starbucks store; out of that number, less than 10 percent were using what’s known as the Order Ahead & Pay feature.

Starbucks isn’t alone in this—you will hear of brand after brand rushing to get their apps ready for primetime, but when it comes time to look closely at the numbers, one thing’s for sure—we’ve got a long way to go still. Relatively few consumers have been made fully aware of just how transformative an experience mobile ordering can be.

Whether you’re looking to get your coffee just the way you like at Starbucks, trying to get your money’s worth at Panera, or simply wondering what your vegetarian options are at Taco Bell, even the most educated person behind the counter will not typically be able to retain the wealth of information now contained within the apps—and we’re assuming, rather generously here, that you, the consumer, even know what questions to ask.

While the slim mobile order and pay results may be somewhat puzzling, perhaps consumers have reached the level of smartphone app overload. However, most merchants do not heavily promote, or more importantly, demonstrate the ease and time savings of mobile order ahead. Starbucks has said that long mobile order pickup lines were discouraging walk-in customers. But apparently, no more. Maybe as Yogi Berra once said, “It’s so crowded, that nobody goes there anymore.”

Overview by Raymond Pucci, Associate Director, Research Services at Mercator Advisory Group

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