Mobile

Taco Bell, Outback Push Mobile Ordering

Taco Bell and Outback Steakhouse are shifting their businesses to deal with the new smartphone reality. Taco Bell on Tuesday (Oct. 28), for example, rolled out its version of the mobile app to allow customers to order ahead and place a food order for pickup. But it announced this feature with an unusual social media blackout.

“To draw social media attention and promote the new app, all of Taco Bell’s social media platforms — including Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram — went dark on Tuesday, revealing the new way to Taco Bell is #onlyintheapp,” reported USA Today. “Each social media platform, as well as tacobell.com, provides only a link to download the new app. Consumers with the previous Taco Bell mobile app get an automatic update to the new mobile ordering app.”

Over at Outback, the steak chain “announced plans to roll out an industry-first online reservations tool for mobile, iPad or laptop that shows real-time waits for seating at every Outback in the country and lets the user get a place in line.” It’s not clear how the app precisely calculates those times, given that diners will tend to leave a table when they are good and ready. The idea of using mobile to secure a place in line is compelling, though, as it gives customers a reason to phone ahead, which allows the restaurant to plan much more accurately.

The story pointed out that these kinds of apps are driving the restaurant industry dramatically. “McDonald’s and Starbucks both are spending huge sums on new technologies. So are Pizza Hut, Papa John’s and Domino’s. Most are aimed at Millennial consumers who would much rather interact quickly with their smartphones than stand in line waiting to order or to be seated. Chili’s has technology that lets folks pay, order more food or play games on table-top tablets” the story said.

The impact is also cutting across age segments.”It’s well known that younger consumers are more likely to accept — and even request — technology options being part of their dining experience, but we’re finding that older consumers also are willing to incorporate technology for a variety of restaurant-related activities,” Hudson Riehle, senior vice president at the National Restaurant Association, is quoted as saying.

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