If you visited Taco Bell's Twitter page this morning, you would find a complete blackout: no Tweets, no photos, no favorites. The only hint was the description: #OnlyInTheApp. Instagram and Facebook have also gone dark, as has tacobell.com, rendering the website essentially useless.
Then, at 9:57 a.m. a tweet: "Mobile ordering is here. Download Now."
Why all the fuss over an updated app? Taco Bell is now the first fast-food chain to offer mobile ordering and payments nationwide for both drive-thru and dining room orders.
“Decades ago, your car keys were the ticket to convenience at the drive-thru," Taco Bell president Brian Niccol said in a statement. "Today as food culture changes and generations grow up with smartphones, our customers seek restaurant experiences that fit their lifestyle.”
The glossy app allows customers to place an order, pay for it and select a Taco Bell location to pick up their food, all on a smartphone. The company is putting emphasis on customization, allowing customers to add extra meat or hold the sour cream. Location features alert employees when customers arrive and check in, allowing workers to quickly prepare the meal. When picking up an order, customers can skip the line in the store or even grab the meal via drive-thru.
Taco Bell's app also allows for swift ordering of previous meals with a "Rotate to Reorder" feature. So, if going to the fast-food restaurant or even clicking on your order on a smartphone takes too long for your taste, now all you have to do to order Taco Bell is wiggle your phone around.
Tech partners for the updated app include mobile payment platforms that focus on restaurants, including Cardfree, Tillster and Xpient.
Mobile ordering is a huge deal for the restaurant business right now. Apple unveiled Apple Pay in September, and restaurants including McDonald's and Subway have already gotten in on the mobile payment system. Longtime mobile ordering pioneer Starbucks is introducing "Mobile Order and Pay" in select markets before the end of the year. By aggressively pushing people to check out Taco Bell's new app – if only to figure out why the chain's online presence has shut down – Taco Bell has made a bold move to ensure customers know exactly what the Tex-Mex chain has to offer.