For better or worse — in regard to my physical and mental health — I had McDonald’s delivered to my house early this morning using only a smartphone.
The fast food giant just expanded its new delivery service this week to a handful of cities across the U.S., including Seattle. “McDelivery” is powered by ride-hailing giant Uber and its restaurant delivery app UberEats, which launched in Seattle two years ago and is live in nearly 100 cities across the world.
After arriving home late on Friday, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to test the technology and satisfy my ill-advised craving for fast food.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with the experience start-to-finish. The ordering process was slick and easy. I’m familiar with the UberEats app functionality, having used the software before, but even for a first-time non-techie customer it’s fairly simple to view/sort items and add them to your cart.
I ordered a variety of items that could provide an accurate quality barometer for delivered food. The receipt included fries, a small Coke, a baked apple pie, a hash brown, and a McDouble burger with custom additions: shredded lettuce and Mac Sauce (insider tip: this is known as the poor man’s Big Mac).
Just like other UberEats deliveries, I could track the order as it was being prepared and see an ETA. It took just 20 minutes from the time I submitted the order to when the UberEats driver rolled up to my house. The nearest McDonald’s to me is two miles away.
It was nice not going anywhere and having McDonald’s just show up at my door — perhaps dangerously nice.
As for the food itself, the temperature was lukewarm, but what I’d expect if I would have picked up the food and eaten it after driving back home. The McDouble was the best item, as my custom instructions were followed to a T. Also nice: the Coke was still ice cold and the baked apple pie was still relatively warm. But the fries were pretty awful, tasting bland and at room temperature — I prefer Wendy’s or Burger King fries anyways.
I liked not having to fiddle with cash, but I wish Uber let you tip on the app. Tips “aren’t expected or required,” Uber says, and notes that “you can always rate your experience after you order.” Not being able to tip has become a point of debate in regard to Uber over the past several years, particularly since its rival Lyft allows it.
I certainly don’t want McDonald’s delivery to become a consistent theme in my life, but given my scenario last night, it was worth paying the extra $3.49 booking fee. Late night delivery seems to be a theme — 30 percent of McDonald’s UberEats beta orders in Florida were made after 11 p.m.
While delivering food is rather new for McDonald’s in the U.S., the company has been doing this around the world for more than two decades. Last year, the giant burger chain saw nearly $1 billion in delivery sales across both company and franchise restaurants. Its most developed delivery markets are in Asia and the Middle East, where top delivery restaurants generate up to 40 percent of their sales from delivery.
In the U.S., there has been a rush of new food delivery services powered by smartphone apps, whether from tech giants like Uber and Amazon, or a bevy of smaller startups trying to get food to your doorstep. They range from those that bring you hot ready-to-eat food, to companies like Blue Apron — which just filed for an IPO — that deliver mealkits.
It’s not an easy market to crack. Since we did an epic test of seven services in 2014, some companies have shut down while others have been acquired. It’s difficult to not only ensure that customer stomachs and wallets are happy with the delivery, but also to create a profitable business out of it.
But McDonald’s delivery in the U.S. is unique, given how many locations the company has across the country. Nearly 75 percent of Americans live within three miles of a McD’s. Delivery, in addition to other tech-fueled initiatives like its mobile app, has become a key part of the company’s focus on winning back more than 500 million customers it lost to competition since 2012.
“One of the most significant disruptions in the restaurant business today is the rapid increase in delivery,” the McDonald’s said in a press release detailing its global growth plan. “Through technology, delivery has changed the way customers order, pay, track and receive food and provide feedback. Coupled with the explosive growth in third-party delivery companies, the landscape has created an exceptional opportunity for growth. Because of our extraordinary footprint, McDonald’s is uniquely positioned to become the global leader in delivery.”
You could previously get McDonald’s delivered with an app like Postmates, but integrating with Uber’s delivery infrastructure and technology brings it to a whole new level.
In January, McDonald’s and UberEats began piloting McDelivery in more than 200 Florida restaurants in Miami, Orlando, and Tampa Bay. McDelivery is now available at 92 restaurants in Seattle; 300 restaurants across Los Angeles; 267 throughout the Chicago area; 59 in Columbus, Ohio; and 144 in Phoenix. It will expand to additional cities in the coming months.