Can McDonald’s Win Back Consumers with Ordering App?

New feature is being tested in California

Author: Rimma Kats

March 15, 2017

McDonald’s is testing a mobile ordering app, working out the kinks before it rolls out nationwide later this year.

The fast-food giant is beta-piloting the app in 29 restaurants throughout Monterey and Salinas, Calif., and will expand to an additional 51 restaurants in Spokane, Wash., later this month.

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McDonald’s wants to make sure the app is on the same level—or perhaps better—than mobile ordering apps by Taco Bell, Domino’s and Starbucks. This makes sense because the chain is late to the mobile ordering game, lagging behind these other restaurants that have been doing this for a while.

McDonald’s hopes a mobile ordering app can help drive traffic to its stores. In Q4 2016, domestic same-store sales fell 1.3%, and the number of consumers visiting McDonald’s has fallen for four straight years, dropping 2.1% in 2016, Bloomberg reported.

Ordering apps have helped other quick-service restaurants.

In 2015, Starbucks rolled out Mobile Order & Pay nationwide. Mobile orders account for 6% of all Starbucks US transactions. Roughly 3,300 of its stores now handle 10% of their orders at peak through Mobile Order & Pay.

Published reports have claimed an uptick in sales at both Taco Bell and Domino’s.

As important, consumers are taking to mobile ordering.

An August 2016 survey from restaurant management software company Toast found that 58% of US internet users who dined out said they ordered takeout via mobile at least sometimes. Most of that group said they ordered food on smartphones or tablets once a month.

And restaurant execs are investing in various technologies, like mobile payments, to further enhance the customer experience.

According to data from Hospitality Technology, most restaurant executives surveyed worldwide in mid-2016 have already adopted many customer-facing technologies.

Nearly half have adopted loyalty programs, and more than a third have incorporated comprehensive mobile experiences across the guest life cycle. These technologies, including those like personalized offers and tableside ordering, can help restaurants better reach customers and make their overall experience more satisfying.

Photo credit: McDonald's