Skipping the Line at Burger King with WeChat

25 Jan 2018

One of the interesting things about living in Shanghai is seeing new technology integrated into daily life across the city fairly quickly. Two significant recent examples include mobile payments (WeChat, AliPay) and bike sharing (Mobike, Ofo). But WeChat is enabling lots of other cool changes as well.

The other day I went to Burger King and there was a fairly long line.

Burger King WeChat Order 2

I noticed this banner telling me to scan the QR code and order on my phone to skip the line:

Burger King WeChat Order 3

扫码
手机自动点餐
不排队

I don’t always go for this kind of thing, as sometimes the “quick and convenient” way ends up being more hassle (the Shanghai Metro’s recent launch of QR codes for subway ticket payments is a great example of that). But this time I decided to give it a shot.

Burger King WeChat Order 1

It was, indeed, easy and fast, and I think I got my order sooner than I would have had I stayed in line.

It was pretty clear to me that Burger King is essentially using the same system used to prepare orders for delivery guys: the user orders on the app, and the delivery guy picks it up in the window. This implementation is simply combining the two for one user. And it utilizes WeChat, so it’s not even a totally separate iOS or Android app. The only flaw I saw was that it didn’t auto-detect which store I was in; I had to choose it. Had I accidentally chosen the wrong location, that would have been quite annoying for both sides.

Still, interesting to see this. McDonalds in Shanghai has had touchscreen order kiosks for a while, but shifting the ordering to WeChat (which virtually every consumer in Shanghai uses) adds a new level of convenience.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Love the Chinglish on your screenshot: MY ODER. That is funny! Convenient AND funny!

  2. I also noticed and tried this new system in McDonald here in Kunming, although I think you have no choice but to install the McDonald app for now… I thought it would be convenient to order and pick up your order on your way home or somewhere else, but it turns out you need to scan a QR code that they display at the mcdonald counter before paying. so you still need to wait for your order to get ready… I guess you could take a picture of the qr code to trick the system but I haven’t tried it.

  3. IT ABSOLUTELY ROCKS! I have used this at Burger King, similar exists for KFC, and the self-serve kiosks at McD. Not to give you the impression I’m only going to fastfood, there are several local eateries now that also have similar systems, one is …mama, sorry forget the name, but it’s a noodle place, where they have QR code on the table. The staff will tell you to scan and order, which I do, and whoohoo, the dishes then get served to my table. NO waitstaff needs to take the order or payment. I haven’t been to the U.S. in a couple years, so I don’t know if this exists stateside, would be curious to hear.

    Apart from the convenience, it allows me to take my time figuring out what to order. In China, it’s very typical for the waitstaff to stand at your table waiting for you to decide, there can be a lot of pressure! I don’t know if this is good for my Chinese language development, but I’ll take it.

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