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Walmart drives mainstream acceptance for food pre-orders via mobileBy
Walmart’s new Fast to Go application enables users to pre-order ready-made meals from the retailer’s convenience concept store, a move analysts predict will make the trend towards mobilizing the fast food market more mainstream.
The app is designed to allow Walmart to serve its customers when, where and how they want. Go users who pre-order food from the Movista-developed application can customize their orders and schedule an in-store pick-up time.
“Walmart has always been receptive in the market, and a star advocate in mobile,” said Sheryl Kingstone, director of Yankee Group’s Mobile Leadership Strategies, Boston. “With Fast to Go, they’ve recognized and addressed three key trends and jumped on them.”
“The app provides convenience, in that people hate lines, recognizes that smartphones have become more readily able to capitalize on quick service and values the collection of data and what it provides back to retailers,” she said.
Ms. Kingstone is not affiliated with Walmart. She commented based on her expertise on the subject.
Walmart did not meet press deadline.
Off to market
When customers order through mobile, they can view Walmart to Go’s full menu and daily specials in addition to using pre-order, customization and scheduled pick-up capabilities.
Walmart to Go is the retail giant’s first gas and convenience concept store, which debuted on March 19 in Bentonville AR, and offers prepared meals through a local butcher and deli like hot ribs, BBQ brisket, smoked chicken, Reuben sandwiches, and a variety of sides sold as meals and by the pound.
While food is not a new frontier for mobile ordering or payments, Fast to Go marks the first time a retailer has mobilized ready-made meal products, allowing it to compete with surrounding fast food and QSRs.
“The Fast to Go application is making the convenience store experience more convenient than ever” said April Seggebruch, vice president of operations and finance, co-founder at Movista, Bentonville, AR.
Convenience is key
Prepared meals are a creation of convenience, able to give consumers a familiar experience anywhere without fuss. And with mobile apps, there is even less friction between customers and their meals.
Major fast food players have been the first to bet on mobile ordering to drive new growth.
Being able to pre-order food and then pick it up is a trend that could soon take over many companies’ businesses as more consumers get smartphones and become interested in taking advantage of mobile remote ordering.
National chains such as Papa John’s, Starbucks, Domino’s and Taco Bell have already taken advantage of online and mobile ordering.
Jamba Juice is active in mobile with a variety of mobile commerce initiatives (see story).
Last month, Taco Bell reported it has been testing an app that allows customers to order ahead using smartphones, and will be launched this year in all U.S. cities (see story).
Seemingly targeting the millennial generation and knowing these customers already have smartphones, the company is expecting a seamless integration of its new technology and believes that the conveniency of the app may even attract more consumers.
Mobile pre-ordering apps perceivably speed up service all around because consumers will no longer be sitting at a call box or waiting in line to order.
While a lot of companies are dipping their toes into this technology, the difference with Walmart is that it is a brand name that other companies are forcibly in competition with because it continues to come up with great business models.
The store’s social media site reads, “Where can you find everyday low prices on quality snacks, take-away meals and gas?”
“The Fast to Go app will make mobile pre-ordering more mainstream and once we see consumers adopt this technology this will change the whole industry and everyone will have to get on board,” Ms. Kingstone said.
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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