Blog Post: Is Mobile Ordering The Missing Link for Retail?

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We hate waiting in line, not to mention that once we finish waiting…there’s more waiting. There’s the whole, “need to pull out my wallet and give you currency” hassle. Then, finally, whatever I paid for needs to be produced. Goodness, I hope all this was worth it. Honestly, I just want what I want and I need it faster.

First world problem or not, this is what most companies that serve some sort of product in a brick-and-mortar retail product are discussing this very minute. They’ve seen the Amazon Effect, watched Best Buy fight back, and noticed how Starbucks makes 10 percent of it’s revenue off it’s mobile app. Retail is in desperate need of a salve.

Funny thing is, as I’ve stated before, retail locations aren’t really in trouble. They just need a boost of new technology to reduce the hurdles. Enter mobile ordering.

Now that you can pay – and be rewarded for doing so – using your mobile app in a local Starbucks, the company has announced plans for mobile ordering. If the barrier for giving your barista money is eliminated, wouldn’t it be even better if you could tell them you are on the way and have it waiting for you? Instead of the “mosh pit” in front of the counter, you can just grab the latte and a seat to enjoy with your paper or Kindle app.

They’re not the only one. Chick-fil-A understands customers hate the mosh pit. Heck, Apple darn near makes the mobile app required for entering their store. It’s taking off in the UK too.

Companies are trying to crack mobile payment currently, but are missing a crucial part of the feature. Yes, I want to get rid of my physical wallet and need only my phone to leave the house. Until the government comes up with a virtual drivers license, though, I have to have one. So I need more of an incentive. Starbucks uses a loyalty-program to encourage users to pay with their phone, but it’s no different than punch cards. The app is super-shaky too, depending on your location and time of day.

If I could pay with my phone and skip the line, though, now we have a game changer on our hands.

Lines stink, as I stated at the beginning. We put up with them because regardless of how fast the service is, there will usually be people that are in front of us at the counter and drive-thru. For the same reason we put up with traffic, we wait for our Whataburger. There’s no “fast pass” for quick-service retail right?

Of course, once retail cracks the line, then you need to give customers a reason to stay. Being first in this category will result in a bit of a bump by early adopters, but I personally don’t like hanging around in fast food locations longer than it takes to get my food. There are some stores that found a way to keep my kids entertained, so they get bonus points. Once my kids outgrow the playgrounds, though, you’ve lost your edge.

This is where iBeacons sensors under tables, augmented-reality menus, and mobile registers come into play. That’s all coming. For now, I’ll just settle for being able to sit down at my favorite spot and let them bring my preordered, prepaid food to me.

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