If you live anywhere outside of NYC, you know how big drive-thru windows are. It's so convenient to just roll up to the window, happily grab your McMuffin with minimal movement, and drive away. It's definitely something I miss about living in the Midwest. But now, McDonald's is testing mobile ordering. And my question is, how will this impact drive-thru windows?

spaghetti, pasta, french fries
Alex Frank

McDonald's has begun testing its US mobile ordering app in California. Although it's a little late to the game, this new feature seeks to rival other chains who have already adopted mobile ordering, such as Starbucks and Domino's. Yet McDonald's sees this as a way to win back customers and has been making efforts to improve its brand with table service and ordering from a kiosk.

What we can't forget about is McDonald's drive-thru window. How will the drive-thru window be impacted by mobile ordering? Will I be able to place my order through the app and pick it up at the drive-thru window? Because you know I don't want to get out of my car. 

Alex Frank

Approximately 70% of McDonald's’ US sales come from drive-thru windows, according to the company. It was originally created as a way to help put the “fast” in fast food. So will the introduction of mobile ordering decrease that number? Will a decrease in drive-thru sales negatively impact the brand, or will mobile ordering pick up the slack? I don't think drive-thrus will ever close, but a consumer may stop using them because they prefer the app which COULD affect sales.

McDonald's told Reuters that its goal in introducing mobile ordering is to make the experience better by cutting transaction times, reducing errors and freeing up workers to do things like deliver food to tables. But as much as I think that will have a positive impact within the restaurant, I think it will have a negative experience on drive-thrus as it takes away from that experience. Like I said, I prefer to stay in my car, but drive-thru orders may become a second priority to mobile orders.

The fast food chain began testing its mobile ordering and payment app at 29 restaurants in Monterey and Salinas, California, and expanded to 51 restaurants in Spokane, Washington, on March 20. Only time will tell how mobile ordering will impact McDonald's drive-thrus.