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KFC Discovers That Mobile Isn’t Nice. It’s Essential

March 11th, 2013

KFC UK’s planned response is to incorporate the geolocation, but it’s important that the app ask if it’s OK to start final preparations. What if the customer is right near KFC but plans on shopping elsewhere for 50 minutes before picking up dinner right before she goes home?

Once the application completes an order, it uses a triple failsafe to protect the order. A copy is kept in the cloud—retrievable through the QR code and an order number—a version is displayed on the store’s order system once the QR code is scanned and a copy is also retained on the phone.

But the order can’t be processed without wireless connectivity because, among other reasons, the payment has to be processed before the customer arrives at the store. That’s another key time-saver. If the customer is placing the order in a wireless dead-zone (think of a returning home commute on a subway), the app will allow almost everything to be done and will then save the data locally. “There’s a static basket on the phone, which will be intact even if the app gets restarted,” Borrett said.

In the current version of the app, that data would be lost if the phone itself was restarted, but the upcoming version in May is going to try and fix that. The issue involves app cache that only gets cleared on a phone reboot, rather than if the app closes and then restarts. “It wasn’t a deliberate design aim to begin with,” said one KFC developer involved in the project, “but as we’ve gone on we’ve realized it’s more useful and will make it a definite feature in the next version of the app.”

Once the data is saved in that non-online environment, the customer then has to manually try to complete the transaction later, when the phone is back in a more wireless-friendly environment. The app has no store-and-forward functionality, where the app itself would keep trying to connect until it was successful. Borrett said that is also something that might be added in a future version.

Another nice feature of the current version is that the mobile menu can be changed in real time, to deal with out-of-stocks or even maintenance. “If the store has an outage on a particular product or piece of machinery, they can switch off that menu item temporarily,” Borrett said. “For example, if the ice cream machine breaks down, the manager can take ice cream products off the online menu until the repair is made.”


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