OLO Online Ordering powers speedy check-out for Fatburger, La Boulange, quick-serve chains
OLO may have created a generation of line-breakers. The local Fatburger in Los Angeles has seen customers walk up to the counter and pick up hot, made-to-order burgers without even talking to a cashier, simply by saying their names to the expediter. The driver behind the technology being used by these line-breakers is OLO, based in New York City.
And San Francisco's La Boulange, a subsidiary of Starbucks Coffee, is the latest fast casual to be powered by OLO.
OLO has powered online ordering for several fast casual and fast food chains, including Five Guys Burgers and Sonic franchise groups. Founder and CEO Noah Glass says that a top differentiator of OLO is the technology that drives it, as well as their goal of being a back-end provider of the technology behind web and mobile ordering, rather than consumer-facing. That's the restaurant's role, suggests Glass.
"OLO is the original and best-in-class provider of mobile and online ordering technology for restaurants," says Glass, proudly. He recalls the first television interview with Good Morning America shortly after the company started in 2005 (as GoMobo.com). Companies like OLO ushered in text message ordering. One of the precepts of the ordering convenience was the technology that stored customers' credit card information in a secure fashion.
The company now deploys several solutions for restaurateurs, including past integration with Facebook company pages and Groupon, because of its cloud-based applications. The Five Guys app that OLO built has been highly rated by reviewers including those at MacWorld, and has surged past 500,000 downloads just this month.
Fatburger's speedy ordering taking, found at Fatburgertogo.com, highlights the customization of OLO's solution for restaurateurs. As Glass has suggested, the company wants to be the engine behind the ordering, not part of the branding itself, in contrast to other mobile ordering providers for chain restaurants.
What happens to the cashiers who will have less to do as customers continue to break lines? "I see that as a re-allocation of hospitality," says Glass. "Ultimately, the customer is going to choose: do I want to order from the cashier or do I want to order on my own?" If it were up to Glass, more employees would be tending to customers and seeing to their satisfaction, rather than punching buttons.
Glass tells us that consumers are increasingly moving to self-serve solutions. Take for instance ATMs and the E-Z Pass system that has replaced human toll-takers on many toll highways. Customers still have a choice to interact with a teller, or wait in line to pay a toll to a human being, but they can opt for the self-serve systems.
Reflecting on his own nephews and nieces, he says parents that watch kids play and learn quickly how to navigate iPads observe that the next generations are growing up with the technology, and will have different expectations about self-service in the future as they become the major consumer groups.
Chain restaurants that use the OLO platform can have orders processed through the POS system in the time it takes to prepare an order for a pre-specified pick-up time, adding to the convenience and freshness of orders picked up online.
Bakeries and diners needn't worry about not seeing their peers migrate to the OLO platform. The company will be releasing news about a new diner chain customer soon, and has disclosed that it will power the mobile ordering app for La Boulange, recently acquired by Starbucks Coffee.
As for the diner, Glass says it's a classic diner that is traditional and has a separate menu for its seniors. However, it made the move to OLO for online ordering because of the compelling value proposition that web and mobile ordering are representing for customers, and how a new generation of customers will use it.
"When a guest can pull out their smartphone to order and pay ahead to skip the line or schedule a future pickup time, it can make fast casuals even faster than fast food," says Glass. "Some OLO clients with apps are seeing mobile orders come to represent 40-50% of all self-service orders, with mobile order volume growing far faster than online order volume as the fastest-growing ordering channel in their business mix."
OLO announced today that it would will be the company to enable La Boulange bakery to provide mobile ordering to customers. The app has received high ratings initially and is available on iOS and Android through the iTunes Store and Google Play, respectively.
Starbucks acquired the then-19-unit La Boulange bakery-cafe chain for $100M in June.
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