Report: McDonald’s Testing Order-Ahead And Payment App, But Do We Really Need It?

Still waiting in line at McDonald's. (Consumerist Dot Com)

Still waiting in line at McDonald’s. (Consumerist Dot Com)

If you just can’t stomach the idea of waiting in line at McDonald’s during the lunch rush, the fast food joint has some (maybe) good news for you. It’s reportedly testing a super (not so) secret order-ahead and payment app.

According to a report from Business Insider, about 22 McDonald’s locations in the Columbus, GA, area are testing the new order-ahead and mobile payment app.

The McD Ordering app allows customers to place an order by smartphone before arriving at the restaurant. Upon arrival, the hungry patron scans a QR code located either at curbside pick-up or at the front door, at which time the credit or debit card linked to their account is charged. The phone then displays an order number and the customer waits.

Wait, what? You still have to wait? Shocking, we know.

Sure, you don’t necessarily have to talk to anyone or fully interact with McDonald’s employees, but really, what’s the point of this app? We already have the drive thru.

For example, you rolled out of bed and decided you just couldn’t go on without an Egg McMuffin, so you head on over the local McDonald’s. Since you just rolled out of bed you decide to do that order-ahead, pick-up at the curb option. There might be fewer people gawking at your bed-head, but someone still has to deliver you food, right? That’s pretty much the same number of people you’re going to see at the drive-thru window.

Or, let’s see, you’re in a rush and don’t feel like waiting in the lunch-time rush line. You walk in, scan the QR code, your food probably won’t just magically appear (although, that might be cool). Other people are still going to be ahead of you waiting for the order they placed five minutes ago.

Also, if you’re in a hurry and trying to cut down on time at the restaurant, wouldn’t searching for a QR code be counterintuitive? And if you’re in such a hurry to get your food, would the app entice customers to order while driving to the restaurant, because that would be dangerous.

Someone in the higher echelons of McDonald’s tells Business Insider the real purpose of the app is to streamline the customer experience by allowing diners to save customized orders and skip drive-thru and in-store lines.

That’s all well and good, but if you’re placing a customized order won’t that take longer anyway? Not to mention the fact that others are still going to be in line waiting to pick up their orders.

We could continue coming up with scenarios in which the McD Ordering app doesn’t actually seem to make things any easier, but that’s probably futile since the service is already getting good reviews – from one manager, anyway.

The manager of a Georgia restaurant testing the system says about 10 people use the app each day.

“We haven’t really advertised it yet, but once we do it’s going to get big,” he tells Business Insider.

Previously, McDonald’s has used mobile ordering and payment apps in foreign markets. The newest state-side venture, comes after several other fast-food or quick-service chains began experimenting with the option.

Back in March, Starbucks announced it was “actively working” on a mobile ordering function on its app. At the time, we laid out the pros and cons of such a service.

The McD Ordering app is currently available in the app store. Although, if you don’t live in Georgia, we’re not sure how good it will do you.

Exclusive: McDonald’s Is Secretly Testing Its Own Order-Ahead And Payments App [Business Insider]

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  1. Cara says:

    This article didn’t mention one of the benefits of the app: more likelihood that your order will be made correctly. Sure, there’s still the guys in the back that may mix something up, but you cut out any miscommunication at the register.

    • Xenotaku says:

      Pretty much this. I always used the kiosk when they still had it at Jack-in-the-Box. I very strictly eat my burgers plain (meat and cheese only), and half the time the cashier doesn’t bother to hit the “plain” button, and I bite into a burger with crap on it. Never once, when I used the kiosk, did my order get made wrong.

      Of course, there’s no way in Hell I’d eat at a McDonalds… nearly threw up last time I ate there.

  2. JoeBlow says:

    I could see people with kids using this curbside. I’ve never been a fan of drive thru service, but a friend of mine with a kid mentioned that it can be more convenient than parking, and having to deal with getting the kid out and eventually back into the car, not to mention keeping them in check in line when they may be a little more difficult due to “low blood sugar” moodiness. I can see curbside app scanning being easier than drive thru because you don’t have to communicate via speakerphone with potentially a car full of kids talking about wanting french fries.

    Anyone who uses other restaurant’s phone apps want to weigh in? I’m thinking Chipotle might be a good example, does anybody use that to configure a meal they order semi-regularly? I do recall when it was mentioned that Starbucks has been considering something like this. That would make things easier on my friend who orders soy drinks, and has to specify that they still want the dairy-based whipped cream.

  3. Naskarrkid says:

    I wish every fast food joint had this. I hate going to the drive thru with a vehicle full of people and they either don’t know what they want and/or they’re all talking at once. Also I know too many people to are picky with their food and I almost always mess up an order if I’m the one that orders it, if I go alone (even if they write it down, I manage to mess it up). I also forgot to mention the local Sonic has a terrible mic/speaker at their drive thru, so this would eliminate most miscommunications.

  4. SingleMaltGeek says:

    I love the concept, even if I don’t eat at McDonald’s. I use Chipotle and Five Guys and California Tortilla online ordering most of the time I go to those preferred fast food places, and like Xenotaku says, you can be sure your order is exactly what you requested. It also makes it easier to choose or consider options at your leisure without having to wait around to place your order. Plus most of those systems allow you to repeat an order or build favorites, so it’s really, really easy to place the same custom order.

    My biggest beef is with Chipotle’s online ordering system. They’ve told me that they make it fresh right at the scheduled pickup time, but when I recently sped through some errands and arrived 15 minutes before my pickup time, instead of building my bowl right then and there…they pulled it, already made, from behind the counter. So much for making it fresh. >:|