How Sonic Drive-In serves up mobile ordering

Sonic Drive-In has revamped its order-ahead and drive-through delivery capabilities to create a frictionless, personal experience for its customers.

Reinventing the experience for consumers in the digital age is a daunting evolution for quick-service chains struggling to stay afloat in a sea of similar choices. Sonic Drive-In is taking a bite out of this challenge by pairing its core assets — drive-in stalls and carhops — with mobile and analytics technologies to build a better digital touchpoint for customers.

Sonic earlier this year launched an order-ahead service that enables consumers to place an order through the company's mobile app and pull into any of the 25 to 40 stalls outside the company's 3,600 U.S. locations to pick up their food. The differentiating factor? People don't get stuck in a line, says Jon Dorch, Sonic's vice president of integrated customer engagement. "We like to say the customers are first in line, every time," Dorch tells CIO.com.

The mixed results of mobile ordering

It's an interesting counter to one of the chief operational bugbears of most quick-service chains' mobile ordering services. High volumes have confused employees, which in turn have bogged down services for consumers stuck at the counter who didn't elect to use the mobile ordering option. In this regard, Sonic's stalls and assortment of digital tools are a huge asset, enabling the company to create a frictionless, yet personalized service, says Dorch.

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