Here is a little secret – I don’t really like ordering food or drinks at Quick Service or Fast Casual Restaurants. I am that guy who is visibly trying very hard to be patient. Once it is my turn, I order, pay and leave the queue in the most efficient way possible.
Yes, that means that people who are unprepared or are interested in a little conversation with the person behind the counter drive me crazy. You know what else drives me crazy? Waiting in fabricated lines at these same establishments in order to create marketing opportunities for doodads, gizmos and tchotchkes. I’ve never bought one.
I bet that there are people out there reading this who have this same secret, who share my quest for queue efficiency. Better yet, don’t give me queue efficiency. Give me a perpetually available, personal ordering assistant which I can access from anywhere. Further, I want my food or drink to be ready when I walk in, on my time line, not on the timeline of the order queue in front of me.
Oh, what wondrous technology that would be! No more lines. No more inefficient people slowly making their way through the line. No more frustration building in my head about why can’t the person in front of me come up with the right change or figure out if they want curly or waffle fries. No more waiting for the person who orders the fifteen syllable coffee to have a cheery side conversation with the über-caffeinated barista. I simply want my name called indicating to me that my $5 caffeine infusion or my burrito which is bigger than my head is ready for me to grab and go.
Here is another apparent secret. This technology exists. Companies like Splick It, SnapFinger and GrubHub (amongst others) are out there marketing this technology today. Albeit the technologies aren’t typically tightly integrated into the store’s POS systems, yet they do work as billed.
Looking at the situation from a slightly different perspective, it strikes me as a bit odd that remote ordering has been generally acceptable for table service restaurants and pizza chains for quite some time, yet QSR / Fast Casual is slow to adopt the technology. One would think that establishments who are ultimately concerned with order accuracy, queue efficiency, prompt service and overall transaction volume would be actively expanding their lanes in an almost limitless fashion with products which provide prepaid orders.
I, of course, have the luxury of ignorance provided to all outside observers. That is to say, there are clearly technical or operational considerations which may be delaying the adoption of these technologies. Or possibly the business case is simply not there as they may cost too much. Even with those in mind, I can tell you that I would partake in more caffeine infusions and larger than cranium burritos if I could order on my way and simply pick it up when I got there.