Taco Bell won the Internet on Tuesday by announcing an order-ahead app while simultaneously blacking out its social media accounts to create hype. Given the chain's reputation for being popular among people who are lazy or under the influence, Taco Bell's app will probably be a success.
Some food chains have been on board the mobile train for a while, and others have promised order- ahead apps in the near future. And despite the media frenzy over Taco Bell's stunt, the ability to order your meal ahead of time on mobile is likely only going to be more commonplace.
Here are five other food chains that are embracing mobile ordering to entice customers.
Dominos has been a pioneer in the food ordering innovation game. Both its website and mobile app allow for customers to not only order food easily, but are also able to track their delivery order so they know when it's out the door.
Earlier this month, Dominos continued its pattern of innovation by letting customers customize their pizza by using a voice-activated feature called Dom. Depending on the success of Dom, voice-activated ordering may or may not be yet another frontier for brands to test.
Could it be? The end of misspelled names on coffee cups? Perhaps, as Starbucks has announced it will test an order-ahead component of its app in Portland, OR later this year before a country-wide rollout in 2015.
Given the popularity of Starbucks app, which lets users pay with their phone and receive rewards, the order-ahead option was probably inevitable.
Lines at Chipotle during peak lunch hours can be brutal. The fast casual chain realized this and offers customers the option to cut the line if they order via their smart phone. To incentive users to use the app, Chipotle introduced a game called 'Chipotle Scarecrow' that advertises Chipotle's 'farm-fed' meat and fresh veggies. If customers play the game well, they can earn a free burrito.
The Golden Arches profits have been in trouble for a good while, so it makes sense the chain has started making moves to be more mobile-friendly. In June, McDonalds started testing mobile ordering in 22 locations. The app officially rolled out in September, but customers can only order-ahead in participating locations in Columbus, Ga and Champaign, Il, perplexingly. The reviews on the Apple Store aren't great, so it appears McDonalds woes continue.
Dunkin Donuts app is already considered a success by loyal customers. It is used similarly to the Starbucks app—it allows users to pay via phone and earn perks. You can't order your coffee and doughnuts ahead of time just yet, but will roll out the feature sometime in 2015.
"With the growth of mobile and all of the great things it can do today that we couldn't do two years ago, mobile ordering is the logical next step," said Scott Hudler, Dunkin's VP of Global Consumer Engagement.