McDonald's is launching an online ordering service via PC or smartphone app, enabling customers to order and pay for their items before going to pick them up at the restaurants.

Fast Food: McDonald’s Extends Mobile Strategy with Online Ordering

Interview with Nawfal Trabelsi, head of McDonald's France, to mark the launch of McDonald's online ordering and payment solution.

L'Atelier: How does the online ordering platform fit into the mobile strategy of McDonald's France?

Nawfal Trabelsi: Our brand has a very heterogeneous set of customers, with many and varied needs and habits. Today online ordering enables everyone to enjoy a special relationship that fits their lives. Up to now all our customers have been treated in exactly the same way – that’s the democratic aspect of the brand relationship. However, recognising that there is such a variety of habits, audiences and reasons for eating McDonald’s, we needed to develop a means of offering different ways of placing orders, of differentiating that first interaction with the company. We hope that this platform will enable us to do more for our customers in terms of the way they want to interact with us. The new system is designed both for the busy employee who will save time if we prepare his/her food before s/he gets to the restaurant and parents with a long order so that they won’t forget anything on their family’s list.

Do you think integrating smartphone functionality into the consumption process is somehow the future of mass consumption?

Well, I believe it’s the right moment to go that route. People in France now generally have mobile devices and seem ready for it. We’ll see what the future brings. Personally, though, I really believe in this move. I think that both smartphones and our brand are these days an integral part of people’s lives, so it’s logical that these two aspects – the physical and the virtual – should come together.

For a fast-food chain that might be accused of treating customers anonymously, is this personalisation a way of putting value back into the customer relationship?

Of course, it will enable us to grow our customer knowledge, become more aware of customer needs and so engage in more appropriate communication with them. This is a long-haul job, but it promises to make our relationships with customers more personal and much closer.

In a sector which depends to some extent on on-the-spot decision-making, will integrating the smartphone app into the web platform help McDonald's to cement customer loyalty?

Well, our online ordering service will from now on make life easier and more convenient for our customers, which should certainly help to create loyalty. Ordering online ahead of your planned visit to the restaurant is something that at the moment other companies haven’t yet incorporated into their systems. We were determined to make this service available on our website and via a mobile app in order to ensure immediacy, to keep in step with people who want to be able to order on the spur of the moment, which accounts for a substantial share of McDonald’s business.

By Quentin Capelle