Fast food just got even faster

A sign directs customers to the drive-thru at a McDonald's restaurant on October 24, 2013 in Des Plaines, Illinois.

The days of waiting in line at your local McDonald's could be over soon.

The fast food chain started a pilot program for an order-ahead app in a limited number of stores around the Columbus, Georgia area -- not to be confused with the "McD App," which offers coupons and loyalty offers in test markets elsewhere in the nation.

"You download it, you place your order, and when you get to the restaurant, you scan in your phone, and at that point the kitchen starts to fire up your meal," says Bloomberg Business reporter Venessa Wong, who adds that the new app is part of an initiative to make things more convenient for customers.

The new app targets the young, tech-savvy customer whose life is, inevitably, tied to his or her smartphone.

"Being able to reach your customers and push out promotions to them on their phone is actually quite valuable," said Wong.

What may be convenient for the customer, however, may be less convenient for the restaurant itself as it may struggle to keep up with the increased speed at which orders are coming in.

"The point is to improve speed and improve service," she said, "but when you have orders coming in from a new and separate stream, the kitchen has to adapt to that."

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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