The number of smartphone users worldwide is estimated to surpass 2 billion people this year, and increase to a quarter of the global population next year, according to a study by eMarketer. More than one-third of consumers worldwide, over 2.56 billion people, will be users by 2018, representing more than a half of all mobile phone users.
It is therefore a surprise that more businesses haven’t utilised the smartphone to stay connected with their customers and personalise their customer experience, although this is beginning to change. But this is also relevant to public sector organisations, who are looking to use technology to interact better with citizens, users of public services and other client groups. Indeed, as the squeeze on public expenditure continues in most countries, the need for innovation and smart use of technology in the delivery of public services will only increase. That also increases the pressure on procurement to play a part in identifying innovative suppliers, ideas and products that can help in this manner.
So procurement people – and other public servants – need to keep an eye on the best developments coming from private business. And one company looking to “enhance” interactions with their consumer through digital technology is McDonald’s France. The French branch of McDonald’s has built a unique, customised platform with Worldline to procure fast food in an even faster way.
According to The Paypers, McDonald’s France has developed an online platform, including an ordering system and a wallet, to provide the consumer with essential information as well as a “customised ordering experience, so they can have their food and eat it exactly when they want. The platform is available online and as a smartphone app, so customers can access information and order on the go. We had a look at the Android version of the “McDo France” app to find out exactly how it works.
The app homepage allows customers to view all McDonald’s branches in the area nearby on a map. Customers can then select which branch they want to order from, place their order and pay online in advance using Worldline Wallet. The customer then receives a unique QR code, or ‘barcode,’ that can be used in a McDonald’s France restaurant on the same day, either to pick up or eat in. During the process, the app will collect customised data on the customer, which will be used for targeted customer offers and cross-sales in the future.
The new online platform may represent a win-win for the fast food chain. Not only does McDonald’s France believe the customer experience to be improved, but the company also gains a valuable insight into its customers’ behaviour. Nothing new to the online retail channels, but a step forward for the fast food industry. McDonald’s France plans to build on its new initiative and develop many more innovative payment solutions to revolutionise the fast food market.
Marc-Henri Desportes, General Manager of Worldline, said that major retailers must increasingly support and empower customers by providing real-time information, interaction and transactional support across different mediums. He said that this requires the most advanced, complete, seamless and innovative omnicommerce approach.
By developing a digital platform that both collects vital information, and personalises customer experience, McDonald’s France is setting an example for other companies to do the same. For large businesses with the financial resources, creating an online platform or app that customises and simplifies interaction with consumers may be well worth the time and money. This will become increasingly true as more and more people begin to rely on smartphones. For small and medium-sized enterprises, developing a similar platform could put them far ahead of the game in terms of innovation and consumer experience. However, resources could be a barrier for SMEs wanting to create such a system, and with fewer consumers, it may not make it worth the effort.
The app makes McDonald’s France Digital Platform one of the first online, non-delivery, fast-food ordering services in the world; customers can customise, prepare and pre-pay for their orders in advance. One thing is for certain; online platforms such as McDo France will become increasingly common amongst other outlets as digital technology becomes an ever greater enabler of meeting customer expectations and gathering digital identities.
How will the public sector use the growth in Smartphones and apps like this to make citizens’ lives better – preferably also at lower cost? That’s a big question for politicians and indeed all of us over the next few years!