McDonald’s to Drive Pickup Adoption With Wait-Eliminating Geofencing Features – PYMNTS.com

As restaurants seek to drive pickup adoption, McDonald’s is tapping geofencing to reduce wait times.
The restaurant brand is updating its mobile order and pay capabilities to inform back-of-house staff when mobile order-ahead customers are near the store, such that the kitchen can prepare the order to be warm and ready just as the diner arrives, in an effort to both boost efficiency and improve the customer experience.
“We’re committed to consistently delivering a fast and more seamless experience for fans using the McDonald’s app,” McDonald’s USA stated in an email. “We’ve rolled out app updates that will improve the mobile-order experience making it fast and convenient for those ordering ahead through the McDonald’s app for curbside, table service or in-store pickup.”
The news comes as restaurants look to incentivize customers to order their meals for pickup. For one, the channel is less costly for restaurants than delivery, as they don’t have to pay third-party aggregators’ steep commissions or foot the labor cost of couriers themselves. And pickup can be key to maintaining customer frequency amid inflation, with many customers no longer willing to spring for the added fees and tips associated with delivery.
The latest edition of PYMNTS’ Connected Dining study, “Connected Dining: Rising Costs Push Consumers Toward Pickup,” which draws from a January survey of a census-balanced panel of more than 2,100 U.S. consumers, finds that 48% of consumers say inflation has made them more likely to order their meals for pickup rather than delivery.
Additionally, the study noted that waiting around is a significant source of friction for many restaurant customers who might otherwise order pickup. Roughly half (49%) of restaurant customers who make off-premises purchases say they would be more inclined to order their meal for pickup rather than have it delivered if they had the chance to use a special pickup line provided by the restaurant that guaranteed no waiting time.
Restaurants have been leveraging geofencing to improve the digital ordering experience for years. Perhaps the most well-known version of this from a consumer standpoint is the Domino’s Pizza Tracker, an early entrant into the space, which launched back in 2015, enabling consumers to see how far away their driver is for delivery orders.
Plus, in the fall, fast-casual giant Chipotle Mexican Grill shared that it is souping up its mobile app with better geotracking features to improve customers’ digital pickup experience. The company launched the feature nationwide at the start of this year.
“The results from the stage gate process were very encouraging, including an improvement in delivery speed, a reduction in customers going to the wrong location and an improvement in the experience for our rewards guests, allowing them to quickly scan for their rewards points without impacting throughput,” CEO Brian Niccol told analysts on the company’s earnings call last month. “As a result, we rolled it out nationwide last month.”
Back in 2020, Panera Bread added geofencing capabilities to its digital platforms to make for more efficient curbside pickup fulfillment.
About a year ago, major restaurant technology provider Olo announced a partnership with geofencing technology company Radar to boost efficiency across delivery and pickup for restaurants on the platform.
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