When it comes to the fiercely contested fast-food sphere, companies are increasingly focusing on the purchasing process as an avenue in which they can top the competition.
The whole point of fast food, after all, is to be, well, fast. People want their burgers and pizzas to be made and served as quickly and easily as possible.
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With this in mind, a lot of the large players are trying to reinvent the ordering experience. Taco Bell, for example, has created a website and online app that greatly streamlines ordering, and even allows customers to customise their meals with the press of a button.
“Ease is the new loyalty,” said Taco Bell vice president of digital Tressie Lieberman at the time of the new website announcement.
“Customers want ease of access, and they want that ease of access on their terms,” added Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol. “People love to be in control of both their order and how they customise their food experience.”
San Francisco-based restaurant eatsa has done away with front-of-house staff completely, leaving the entire purchasing process in the hands of the customer.
The casual-dining restaurant, which sells healthy quinoa-based bowls of food, lets customers order via a virtual cashier that ‘remembers’ every customer, and therefore makes the ordering experience highly personalised.
Moreover, eatsa employs a first-of-its-kind delivery system. When a meal is ready, it is placed into a small ‘cubby’ that glows green, signalling to the customer who has been assigned that cubby that his or her meal is ready.
“eatsa is reinventing fast food by combining speed and affordability with the delicious flavours and nutritious ingredients of premium fast casual,” says eatsa co-founder Tim Young.
“By developing new technology to automate every aspect of the food experience, we are able to deliver a product with the best qualities of premium fast casual at a price point that is accessible to everyone.”
Domino’s is arguably leading the charge when it comes to easy ordering. In fact, globally, around half of its customers are now ordering their pizzas via the company’s mobile app.
But Domino’s wants to simplify the ordering process even further, which is why it is introducing a one-click button. The pilot programme is being launched in the UK, though it will undoubtedly be rolled out to other parts of the globe as well.
There are two versions of the button. The first is a ‘virtual’ easy-order button that can be used on the Domino’s website or app to instantly order your favourite meal.
The second (and more interesting) is a physical button — complete with little pizza box — that can be programmed to instantly order your pizza. The first wave of physical buttons were distributed throughout December 2015 by way of social media competitions.
In the United States, Domino’s is launching a ‘tweet-to-order’ campaign that allows customers to instantly order a pizza by simply tweeting the pizza emoji at Domino’s.
“It’s the epitome of convenience,” Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle told USA Today. “We’ve got this down to a five-second exchange. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to order from us, and this is pretty darned easy.”
The system will obviously require creating an account and setting up a way of paying for your pizza, so it’ll be a tad more complex than it sounds at first, but the idea is still making food ordering easier than ever.
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Lastly, Uber is starting to dabble in the fast-food sphere through a partnership between UberRUSH and ChowNow. ChowNow is a US-based online platform for restaurants that allows easy ordering and payment. UberRUSH will now be offering quick and easy delivery of meals ordered through ChowNow.
“At the flip of a switch our restaurant clients will be able to tap into a massive network of local delivery drivers and start fulfilling more delivery orders, more efficiently, while at the same time greatly reducing their costs. It’s a brilliant opportunity for our clients, which is why we’re so thrilled to partner with Uber,” said ChowNow CEO Chris Webb.