Big App for Big Mac

McDonald's testing mobile order application for U.S. restaurants

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- McDonald's Corp. is currently testing a mobile payment application in Salt Lake City and in Austin, Texas, company spokesperson Lisa McComb told Bloomberg.

McDonald's, which today reported U.S. same-store sales that trailed estimates for August, is looking for ways to make it easier for diners to buy Big Macs, McWraps and smoothies. It's not alone in seeking to ignite growth at a time when many Americans are eating out less. Burger King Worldwide Inc. offers a delivery service with a $10 minimum order in some U.S. cities, while Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. has a mobile ordering app.

"You have to look at the whole generation that's coming up, and I think we're moving to a cashless society," Bob Goldin, executive vice president at Chicago-based restaurant researcher Technomic Inc., told the news agency. Mobile apps appeal to millennials and teenagers, he said.

"It's a worthwhile investment," for McDonald's, Goldin said.

After ordering via a mobile phone, customers can pick up food in stores, curbside or at drive-thru windows, according to notes from a June meeting of McDonald's franchisees and company executives obtained by Bloomberg. The system will also include special promotions, offers and a loyalty program.

"While many competitors are publicizing their efforts to get an initial foothold in the mobile arena, no one has developed a comprehensive solution that integrates all the opportunities this technology presents," the notes said.

"We're always looking at new technologies to make the McDonald's experience better for our customers," McComb said. "We are testing some of these technologies in a few markets, so it's premature to speculate on the decisions we may make after the tests, but we're excited to bring a cutting-edge experience in the future to our customers."

McDonald's, which gets about one-third of revenue from domestic locations, is working to draw cash-strapped Americans with new products including steak breakfast biscuits, chicken wings and Quarter Pounders with different toppings and sauces.

The company already has a U.S. mobile phone app for customers to locate restaurants, find nutrition information and search for jobs.

Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's has about 34,700 locations worldwide, including more than 14,100 in the United States.