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Taco Bell fires up mobile ordering with customization, marketing blitz

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October 29, 2014

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Taco Bell’s new mobile ordering app component

Taco Bell is taking mobile ordering to new heights via its application, with unique new features, enhanced customization and a marketing blitz.

While 70 percent of its customers are already customizing the items they order, Taco Bell decided to leverage the power of technology to become even more transparent and open its kitchen doors to its fans. The mobile ordering component will likely draw more consumers into the app, prompting them to converse further with the brand.

“Consumers have new expectations,” said Brian Niccol, president of Taco Bell, Orange County. “Technology has completely revolutionized the way we do business in retail situations.

“Our business is all about convenience,” Mr. Niccol said. “We believe technology is the catalyst to take Tace Bell beyond its four walls.”

Mr. Niccol announced the new mobile ordering capability during a live stream announcement yesterday.

Switching gears
There has been a lot of buzz this year on mobile ordering.

The idea works well for Taco Bell because its customers are more than willing and ready to be able to customize their orders. Taco Bell’s customers know what they like and create their own versions of menu items on their own.

While customization is of interest to Taco Bell’s customers, it has been somewhat of a struggle of execution due to miscommunication that can occur at drive-through windows. Mobile ordering enables the execution of fewer mistakes and happier customers.

To promote the new mobile ordering component, Taco Bell is leveraging YouTube star Shane Dawson, who explains the new feature in his own words in a video.

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Shane Dawson advocating for Taco Bell’s mobile ordering app

Also, the food chain is approaching social promotion in a unique way by turning against it. When viewing Taco Bell’s Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter pages, users will notice that the brand is no longer following anyone. Taco Bell is calling this act a social blackout.

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Taco Bell’s Twitter account homepage

The blackout is also live on Taco Bell’s homepage at tacobell.com. The food chain made a video to explain the movement further.


The New Way To Taco Bell Isn’t On YouTube. It’s #OnlyInTheApp.

Through these efforts, Taco Bell is promoting its app and requesting that all interaction with the brand is done via the mobile channel and its app.

Digital agency DigitasLBi created the mobile design and digital campaign for Taco Bell, which includes paid digital media and the social media blackout. The agency also created the corresponding hashtag #OnlyInTheApp to go along with the campaign’s efforts.

“DigitasLBi created the mobile design and digital campaign, which includes the blackout happening across all of Taco Bell’s digital and social channels,” said Dean Rubinstein, vice president and group director at DigitasLBi, San Francisco. “To prove the new way to Taco Bell is only in the app, we engaged our loyal social followers, as the brand always does, to get their attention and make a memorable disruption.

“Taco Bell is now the first fast-food chain to offer mobile payment and ordering in the restaurants and in drive throughs,” he said.

In another form of leveraging technology, Taco Bell has been using Google Glass for member training and other work purposes.

Customization at the forefront
Taco Bell’s new mobile ordering component allows users to submit orders from anywhere and at any time.

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Taco Bell’s mobile ordering

Users can select add-ons to their order and customize it entirely to their preference. Users then pay for their order on the app with a credit, debit or Taco Bell card. They can also select how they will retrieve their order, whether it be in-store or in the drive through window.

Users can check-in from their lock screen, or a banner notification on iOS devices, when they arrive to their local Taco Bell store. Once users check in, Taco Bell begins filling the order.

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Users choose in-store or drive through pick up

When customers retrieve their order in-store, they are able to skip the customer line and are greeted by name by cashiers, making the experience more personal for Taco Bell’s customers.

Users can select the time they wish to pick up their order.

A Rotate to Re-order tool on the app allows users to simply rotate their phone to re-submit a previous order. Users can take advantage of this tool if they like to reorder the same menu items for each visit.

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Taco Bell’s re-order tool

Taco Bell executives have been working to integrate a mobile ordering component for years and are excited for customers to try the product and provide feedback for the brand.

Fans have enjoyed their experiences at Taco Bell thus far due to the customizable options they have had. Now with technology, customers can ensure more accurate orders and enjoy even more customized experiences.

Technology will continue to be the gateway for Taco Bell’s future opportunities,” Mr. Niccol said. 

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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