Faster Fast Food

To stay on the subject of McDonald’s, while giving the cashier the order for my six-person family on my last visit, I was thinking about how I routinely give this lengthy order, and how there’s a good chance I may miss a subtle difference from one week to the next (apple dippers instead of fries, or ranch dressing instead of honey mustard. Oh, the wrath I receive when I deliver a tray with the wrong dipping sauce).

So I started taking orders for my family with the trusty notepad app on my iPhone. I walk into the restaurant and read the order off my iPhone to the cashier. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, if I could just send the order from my iPhone to the cashier’s terminal? This method would have several benefits, including:

  • Order accuracy (this helps me out more than McDonald’s since I’m the one who usually gets something wrong)
  • Saves time (it takes me quite a while to spill out the details of several custom meals. Think about how this would speed up the line at Subway! No more “wheat bread, six inches, toasted, lettuce, onions, green peppers, light mayo, honey mustard, salt…and on the next one….”)
  • Payment integration (you might as well pay with the app while you’re at it instead of reaching into your wallet for your card, or worse, cash)

There are several ways this could be handled, but we’ll just play around with one idea here. I’m thinking each restaurant would have its own app. That way, each could keep its own menus up-to-date. I would take my family’s order with the app by tapping on menu items (probably much like the cashiers do with their touch screens) instead of typing in my notepad. I could save the entire order as a favorite to use again, or use as a basis for quickly creating an order with only a few changes.

I walk into the restaurant with the app fired up. The cashier asks me what I would like, I inform him that I’ll be sending it over. I press send, he acknowledges, I confirm the total, my card gets charged, and I wait for my order to be assembled. Here is a diagram of the process:

Fast food app
Fast food app architecture

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