The quick-service chain is testing an app that will allow customers to place mobile orders for pick-up, as well as to place orders simply by flipping their phones. It is expected to roll out nationwide later this year.
Quick-service chain Taco Bell is making it easier for taco lovers to "Live Mas" by testing out an app that will allow customers to place mobile orders, including a feature that enables order placement by flipping a phone sideways and back again.
The app is being tested in five stores in Southern California and will roll out nationwide later this year.
According to Jeff Jenkins, Taco Bell's mobile lead, the brand wants to make sure its customers have a unique experience each time they use the app, so it opens with a message based on the time of day, such as "Evening, compadre," for a dinnertime order placed in the late afternoon.
In addition, Taco Bell has created a "very visual" mobile menu with an "Instagram feel," he says.
The menu is easy to operate with swipes, even when making order modifications like adding beef or removing cheese, which provides speed and convenience to users. In fact, Jenkins says more than 60 percent of Taco Bell menu items are customized in orders and the ability to customize each item via the app also allows the brand to "showcase ingredients in a way we haven't before."
"We're putting the menu at your fingertips," Jenkins says. "When you drive up to the menu board and there are three cars behind you, there's some menu board anxiety. What we're doing is providing an opportunity to really explore the menu and customize a personalized product the way you want without the rush. You can order on your own time and pick it up when you're ready."
Once a customer has created an order, he or she will choose a location where they would like to pick it up. And because prices vary by location, the app is able to pull real-time pricing based on the location selected.
When a consumer touches "Check Out," they get a simple, visually engaging upsell message for menu items like a large Pepsi or a dessert, which Jenkins calls "smart upsells" to make a complete meal.
Once they've made their choices, the customer chooses a payment method and sends the order.
The app then allows the customer to decide whether he or she wants to come in to the store or use the drive-thru.
"A lot of brands with mobile ordering ask [for a pick-up time], but what happens if you're stuck in traffic? You get cold food. We pride ourselves on hot, fresh food, so it's pretty simple. You head to the store and when you arrive, you select a pick-up method and we start making your food," Jenkins says.
Customers who opt for in-store pick-up will receive their orders in the mobile pick-up section of the order pick-up zone; customers who choose drive-thru will pull through and give their name at the window.
The app also makes it easy to order favorites. Instead of asking customers to select favorites, the app simply ranks favorite menu items based on the number of times they are ordered, Jenkins says.
And because "we are creatures of habit" and 70 percent of orders are the same, Jenkins says Taco Bell is also working on a function called Rotate to Reorder, in which favorite orders are listed with fun names like "Afternoon Snack," or "After Dark," and can be ordered by flipping the phone sideways and back again and clicking submit. Customers also have the option to rename their favorite orders.
In addition, the app allows users to choose art from among their photos for their Taco Bell gift cards because "millennial customers love personalization," Jenkins says.
The mobile order app is an innovation two years in the making.
"Taco Bell has an unbelievable consumer fan base that is engaged on multiple platforms on social and digital and we're constantly looking at what comes next in social and digital," Jenkins says.
After initial tests of a mobile ordering platform 18 months ago, Taco Bell realized it had a big potential opportunity on its hands.
"We thought, 'Gosh, how do we do it in a way that no one has ever done ordering before?'" and fits into the brand's Live Mas ethos, Jenkins says.
That's when Taco Bell began looking at "how to build [an] amazing and complete experience" that ensures customers have a great experience and continue to interact with the app, Jenkins says.
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Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.
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