Chick-fil-A tests ordering app; national rollout may follow
Craving a juicy piece of chicken? Those waffle fries and Chick-fil-A sandwiches may soon just be a few clicks away.
The College Park, Ga., headquartered fast-food chain is currently testing a mobile ordering and payment iPhone application at six locations, including restaurants located in Chicago; Pearland, Texas; Costa Mesa, Calif.; Atlanta; West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Arlington, Va., the company told CNBC on Monday. The pilot program first began in January with one location. Another five locations were added in June.
"We're testing a mobile ordering app. We're still trying to figure this out—this being mobile ordering and what it means for the fast-food industry," said Mark Baldwin, spokesperson for Chick-fil-A, a chain known for its chicken items and for being closed on Sundays.
Restaurants frequently test out new devices and items in select markets to work out the kinks before deciding to expand an item or service nationwide. Baldwin said the pilot program could later lead to a national rollout, in which franchisees could decide whether to opt in or not.
"Oh yeah, absolutely that's the hope—that sometime within the year or so we'll be able to offer it to all the franchisees," he said.
With the app, customers can order an item, select a rough time frame of when they will arrive and pay. When they do drive up to a location, they then check in using the app.
"We make it as soon as you check in. ... Then it's hot and fresh. It's not like it's sitting there under a heat lamp—that's not us," Baldwin said.
The move makes Chick-fil-A the latest restaurant chain to enter the mobile payment landscape, joining Chipotle Mexican Grill and Starbucks. In early September, McDonald's said it was testing a mobile payment application in a select number of locations. Meanwhile, Burger King lets customers place delivery orders by phone or online in many markets.
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In addition to the mobile ordering app, Chick-fil-A also has another one where customers can find nearby locations, look up menu and nutrition information, and join the company's email list.
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While the ordering program is still in its pilot phase, Chick-fil-A's job postings reflect its attempt to beef up its presence in the mobile arena
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On its careers site, Chick-fil-A currently has a posting for a mobile strategy analyst—a role whose responsibilities would include helping "users incorporate mobile technologies into current business processes" and whose preferred qualifications, include "experience with mobile application development."
—By CNBC's Katie Little. Follow her on Twitter