McDonald's testing smartphone ordering in Columbus area

Those hungry for a Big Mac and fries who don't want to wait in line inside a McDonald's restaurant or idle in its drive-thru lane soon could have another option: Smartphone ordering.

That is, as long as you are in the Columbus-area market, which the Oak Brook, Ill.-based burger chain is now using as a guinea pig to quietly test the ordering system before a possible national rollout.

The process is fairly simple. Download the McDonald's ordering app for an iPhone or Android-based device, then connect it to a credit card to be used for payment.

At the Columbus eateries, the company has installed a "mobile ordering station" -- a thin pole with directions on it -- and two brightly painted parking spaces "reserved" for those using their smartphones.

Directions on the station let customers know they should create their order with the app, scan the QR code at the station, then submit the order and pay.

"Get it delivered here ... and enjoy!" is the final step, the station says, with the food being prepared and brought to your car, similar to what a Sonic drive-in employee currently does.

Picking up the smartphone-ordered fast food inside the restaurant apparently is an option as well.

The Columbus-area McDonald's restaurants are operated by Pezold Management Group, which has 22 stores in Georgia and Alabama. The company could not be reached for comment to see how the smartphone ordering is going locally. And the media relations department at the McDonald's corporate level wasn't saying much, either.

"We are testing these technologies in a few markets, so it's premature to speculate on the decisions we may make after the tests, but we're excited to bring a cutting-edge experience in the future to our customers," the company said in a statement sent via email by media relations director Lisa McComb.

The company did say it is always seeking new technologies to improve the "McDonald's experience" for its customers. And, yes, they have other apps for that, too, including one that sounds somewhat like coupon deals.

"Currently, we have a McD App, which is available in more than 2,000 U.S. restaurants," the statement from McComb said. "The McD App sends customers offers to redeem with their phone in participating restaurants. It allows them to customize their offer, location and communication preferences, and the offers are sharable with friends and family."

There are more than 35,000 McDonald's outlets worldwide.

Shares of McDonald's trade on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock's 52-week trading range is $92.22 to $103.78 per share.

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