News – “Workers at Starbucks and McDonald’s are facing down a revolution that’s transforming fast food” – Mobile ordering is on the rise. The number of orders being placed via mobile apps went up by 50% in US restaurants in 2017.

  • While mobile orders can boost sales for restaurant chains, they can also cause behind-the-scenes problems and spark worker revolts.
  • Some Starbucks employees say they’re losing out on tips because of the growth of mobile orders, while McDonald’s workers complain about the confusion mobile ordering causes.

Mobile ordering is on the rise — and it’s creating a wave of new problems for fast-food workers.

The number of orders being placed via mobile apps skyrocketed by 50% in US restaurants in 2017, according to data from the NPD Group.

Business Insider Intelligence predicts that by 2020 mobile order-ahead will account for 10.7% of all quick-service restaurants (QSR) sales.

However, while restaurants are increasingly banking on mobile orders to grow sales, there are behind-the-scenes conflicts that need to be addressed.

Workers at chains such as Starbucks and McDonald’s say that the rise of mobile ordering is hurting their tips and complicating their jobs. And at a time when turnover is higher than ever in the industry, that could create some major problems.

Starbucks’ mobile-order chaos

starbucks mobile
Starbucks added a pick-up area for mobile orders in 2017.
Kate Taylor

Last year, Starbucks witnessed the dangers associated with too many people placing mobile orders. In January 2017, the company reported that transactions — an important measure of customer traffic — dropped by 2% in part because of problems, such as bottlenecks and overcrowding, caused by mobile ordering.

Starbucks has addressed the issues for the most part, adding pick-up shelves for mobile orders and changing some workers’ roles to focus on mobile-related tasks during busy hours. In February, Starbucks launched its first national effort in roughly five years to change how many employees should be working at different times of day and what exactly their tasks should be.

Yet some workers say that one big problem remains. Apparently, more mobile orders can often mean fewer tips.

Jaime Prater, a shift supervisor at a Starbucks in California, told Business Insider that tips were “in steady decline” because of the rise of mobile order and pay.

…The machines just keep taking over, first comes flippy, now mobile ordering and next full on robots taking your order…

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