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NATIONAL REPORT -- Can fast food become faster food? Online and mobile ordering for quick-service restaurants (QSRs) has been much talked about lately, but some wonder if the concept makes sense.
QSRs, unlike full-service restaurant competitors, have long avoided online and mobile ordering because the technology was unnecessary to process already speedy transactions, unlikely to increase incremental sales and perhaps cause food quality problems, reported Nation's Restaurant News.
"It's an interesting idea," said Brad Ludington of KeyBanc Capital markets, which performs investment banking services for Sonic Corp.. "But something that is a big concern of mine [is] how do you guarantee quality … If the food quality suffers, you run the risk of hurting the brand."
Some Sonic drive-thru restaurants in Arizona have been testing online ordering. Also, The Melt, a grilled-cheese sandwich and soup concept, launched in August with online ordering, according to Nation's Restaurant News. To make sure the quality of the product does not suffer, online service provider Snapfinger has developed technology to ensure the quality of preordered take-out food.
Convenience store retailers -- many of whom are grappling or may soon ponder the same online ordering question in the future -- are sure to watch this QSR development closely. Although mobile ordering is a new technology, online food ordering certainly is not.
Larry Miller, a managing director and restaurant analyst for RBC Capital Markets, said mobile and online ordering technology can be most helpful in enhancing the customer ordering and service experience. However, "the order needs to be fulfilled and food delivered seamlessly to complete the customer experience," he said.