McDonald’s has finally launched its mobile ordering program, following in the footsteps of other fast food giants like Starbucks and Domino's. These brands have reaped the benefits of mobile ordering, but not without hitting a few bumps along the way. Here’s what McDonald's mobile ordering means for the Golden Arches—and its competition. 

The Deets on the Pilot Program

Alex Frank

The mobile ordering system works via an iOS app, which customers use to place an order, check in, and pay before picking up their meal. The app also tracks your distance from the restaurant to ensure that your French fries and chicken nuggets are the perfect temperatures when you arrive—an element that other mobile ordering systems lack.

On March 15th, 29 California locations in the Monterey and Salinas area launched mobile ordering, with 51 more in Spokane, Washington on March 20th. These pilots will help resolve issues with the system before introducing it to the chain’s 14,000 US restaurants, and 6,000 chains in Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, and China.

How Does It Stack Up Against the Competition?

tea, water, beer, coffee
Connor Howe

McDonald’s has the potential to make big waves with the launch of mobile ordering. Mobile apps often lead to a significant boost in sales, and research indicates that customers who order through an app will spend more than those ordering in the drive-thru.

If the app is designed efficiently, brands reap the rewards. Mobile ordering and payment are responsible for over half of Domino’s US sales and 21% of Starbucks’ transactions. If McDonald’s figures out an effective mobile ordering system, it could experience a boost in sales too. 

Watch Out, Starbucks

Photo courtesy of McDonald's Facebook

McDonald’s, in particular, is in prime position to shake up the competition—as it's already making upgrades to its McCafe brand. While the burger chain is late to the game of mobile ordering, they can learn from other companies' mistakes and challenges.

Starbucks faced huge lines when mobile orders poured in faster than they could be processed, causing walk-in customers to leave. If McDonald’s finds a way to tweak their kitchen layouts and staffing, mobile ordering can become more efficient and profitable. 

Soon, your McDonald’s order will be ready at the touch of your fingertips. But will the fast-food chain shake up the mobile ordering system forever? We’ll have to wait and see.