Taco Bell builds e-commerce website on mobile app's success

Most companies derive mobile apps from their websites, but Taco Bell has done the opposite. Building on the success of its e-commerce mobile app, the chain has revamped and renamed its website, extending the ability to order and pay via personal computers and tablets as well as enhancing the overall digital customer experience.

Short enough for a fast-moving world, meaningful, and easy to remember, the new domain name is "ta.co." It allows consumers to customize, order and pay in advance, offering a seamless experience across all devices, according to a company statement.

                        Image from Taco Bell's new website

"Innovation has always been a part of Taco Bell's core, and ta.co is our latest promise to make the brand accessible whenever, wherever and however consumers want it," said Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol. Taco Bell is owned by Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM).

"At Taco Bell, we're rooted in delivering delicious, crave-able and affordable Mexican-inspired food. We use technology, design and a heavy dose of creativity to deliver on that promise, all while making our brand more relevant to digital savvy customers."

More than a website celebrating tacos, ta.co "redefines e-commerce for the fast-food industry," the statement said. It features richer content, access to more information, and a complete redesign that addresses the sensibilities of the brand's core demographic: millennials.

Besides online ordering, meal customization and a nutrition calculator, the site also includes "The Feed" section for new content related to culture and the company, and "Careers" to help people find available positions at Taco Bell.

The Taco Bell app has been downloaded about 3.7 million times, Bloomberg Business reported. The company said that customers that use the app spend an excess of $10 on an average order, or 20 percent more than those who order in person. Taco Bell hopes those numbers will translate for those using the website.

"To stay relevant in culture now requires us to innovate in technology just much as we've innovated in food," Niccol told Bloomberg. "What we're driving toward is redefining the Taco Bell experience to go beyond the traditional drive-thru, dining-room experience."

Taco Bell's website currently gets about 5 million visitors a month, with the typical user researching menu items and looking up restaurant locations. Creating the ability to order and pay was a natural next step, he said.

The mobile app was designed to reach loyal customers who are digitally connected with the company, using the app as a "learning lab." The result of the mobile education is this expansion of the technology across the company's system.

For example, at a new San Francisco location, customers can pick up food that they ordered on their phones at a mobile pickup window. In addition, a test of a digital ordering kiosks is underway at a location near its Irvine, California, headquarters.

"Once we understood how it served the heavy users, we could figure out how to use that technology in other ways," Niccol said.

Delivery is next on Taco Bell's digital menu, now being piloted at about 200 restaurants, mainly in Texas and California, with on-demand company DoorDash. With that service, customers can order, pay, and then wait for their food to arrive. "That's the future," Niccol said.

For more:
-See this Taco Bell statement
-See this Bloomberg Business article

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