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McDonald’s unpacks in-store tablets as mobile-centric sales initiatives continue

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April 20, 2016

McDonald's UK is experimenting with new sales tactics

McDonald’s UK is experimenting with new sales tactics

McDonald’s UK is rolling out a new sales tactic enticing consumers to visit its stores and take advantage of new Samsung Galaxy tablets that enable users to browse the Internet, play games or interact on social media networks.

The British subsidiary of the global fast-food chain has joined forces with enterprise mobility management platform SOTI to equip McDonald’s restaurants with Samsung Galaxy tablet devices. Implementing tabletop tablets within stores has been a popular trend among many quick service restaurant marketers, and may lend a helping hand to McDonald’s, which has been turning to mobile to combat disappointing sales.

“McDonald’s rolled out the tablets in a successful trial in 2015,” said Nassar Hussain, managing director of Europe and South Africa at SOTI, Inc. “The tablets were extremely popular with customers, and as a result, McDonald’s is installing tablets in the majority of its UK restaurants.

“The McDonald’s ‘Experience of the Future’ program is the biggest investment and operational change in its 41-year history in the UK.”

Trending with tablets
McDonald’s UK is introducing future-inspired experiences by rolling out innovative initiatives to augment in-restaurant dining. By integrating publicly accessible tablet devices into its stores, the chain is raising its chances of seeing higher amounts of foot traffic, and consequently, impulse purchases.

SOTI supplies the software for the tablet devices, which allow users to play games, check their social media accounts and peruse the Web. The brand is currently rolling out the devices to the majority of its restaurants in Britain, following a successful test last year.

Feedback from customers has reportedly been positive, proving that in-restaurant tablets are a major draw for digitally savvy individuals.

A slew of other major chains have also implemented this rising trend into their locations.

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Olive Garden’s tabletop tablets allow diners to place orders and pay for meals

Last year, Olive Garden was one of the latest restaurant chains to employ tablets in its bricks-and-mortar locations, enabling customers to order and pay via the devices, suggesting that mobile has a strong role to play in streamlining the dining experience and increasing tip percentages for servers (see story).

Chili’s Grill & Bar and Applebee’s have rolled out tabletop tablet devices as well.

McDonald’s is seeking to leverage mobile technology in a way that provides more personalized customer experiences, lending credence to its dedication to being a trendsetter in the QSR sector.

If consumers in Britain know they can access complimentary Wi-Fi on a tablet device at a McDonald’s restaurant, they may feel more inclined to pop in, order a Big Mac and check their social media accounts or respond to emails.

These types of experiences offer more utility to time-strapped consumers that prefer to multitask as they go about their days. However, at present time, the tablets are only available for entertainment purposes.

McDonald’s UK has previously tapped into traffic-driving mobile strategies.

In an attempt to thwart declining sales last year, the brand began providing wireless charging for its customers in Britain to prompt in-store sales (see story).

Brushing up on mobile
McDonald’s has been fighting to stay afloat in the competitive fast-food chain industry by targeting mobile-minded consumers on their smartphones with enticing tactics, such as social media contests, mobile coupons and new apps.

Earlier this month, McDonald’s treated fans in the greater Philadelphia region to a four-pronged sweepstakes campaign and boosted usage of its recently released app by inviting users to redeem any in-app offer during the month of April for a chance to win $50,000 (see story).

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Several McDonald’s locations have also started testing self-service kiosks

As of this past January, McDonald’s has garnered more than 7 million downloads of the U.S. version of its app, likely due to the welcome offer available for first-time users.

If the chain continues to introduce forward-thinking sales strategies that provide real utility and convenience to consumers, it could stand a bigger chance at fending off competition from other QSR stalwarts with strong mobile strategies, including Taco Bell.

“The fast-casual dining industry is highly competitive and innovators like McDonald’s are always looking to create memorable and unique experiences to drive customer loyalty,” Mr. Hussain said. “It’s a customer-centric and data-driven world where customers are dictating preferences, driving experiences, and they choose who to patronize based on what companies are providing the best customer experiences.

“McDonald’s is differentiating itself in the UK by offering tablets throughout its dining experience.”

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Alex Samuely is staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach her at alex@mobilemarketer.com.

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