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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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4 Comments | Read KFC Discovers That Mobile Isn’t Nice. It’s Essential

  1. ed Says:

    Implementing geolocation is not the best answer, geolocation is an assumption about the mobile user availability.

    What if the mobile user had to stop on the way and help walk a senior citizen across the street? Will KFC be able to know this incident occurred in their “timing” of customer arrival?

    What about being honest about availability and the simply informing the mobile user of the process? UPS, Fedex and Dell computer send the mobile user a current status of their order and keep the mobile user engaged. I know when Dell is assembling my computer, when they packaged it and FedEx is telling me when it left their facilities on the truck and I’m engaged as a consumer to this live feed of data.

    So wouldn’t it be better than KFC trying to use geolocation to just inform the mobile user they started preparation of the food and give them an estimate as a personalized message? Then the mobile user can reply and create a geniune two-way conversation instead of trying to snoop in on their geo-location position?!

  2. Paul Says:

    Ed, the plan with the geolocation feature will be to give the customer a notification when they get within a certain distance of the store – likely a 1-2 mins walk away – and them ask them what they’d like us to do.

    The customer can either give the go ahead to start final packing of the order, or alternatively they can simply wait until they arrive at the store and we’ll start the packing process then.

    We’re definitely not looking to snoop on the location of customers or make assumptions that they are coming directly to the store, simply trying to find ways for them to get their food as quickly as possible by giving them the option to trigger the final stage of the process. As you’d imagine, the notification feature can be deselected if required.

  3. ed Says:

    Paul, thanks for the clarification. I was thinking cautiously along the lines of a consumer mobile device constantly polled for their current longitude/latitude position creating a breadcrumb trail.

    If the consumer have a choice to disable the tracking, then it would alleviate some of the privacy concerns of feeling tracked.

  4. Paul Says:

    No problem Ed. We have no intention of tracking any data from the mobile device, and are very much aware of privacy concerns in this area. The intent is to use a standard geofence around the store where an order has been placed, and when the customer crosses the fence they will receive the notification / question.

    I’ll come back and post an update here when we have the geofence update in place.

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