Taco Bell launched a new US website, ta.co, on Monday that features customizable online ordering and digital content for visitors to enjoy as well as an online nutritional calculator so consumers can keep track of how much damage that next Doritos Cheesy Gordita Crunch will do.
“Customers want ease of access and they want that ease of access on their terms,” Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol told Entrepreneur. “People love to be in control of both their order and how they customize their food experience.”
Customers have already been able to order and pay ahead of time on mobile devices, but that ability is now moving to personal computers and tablets as well, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. The goal is to move the ease of the app experience to the brand’s overall digital experience.
Last year, Taco Bell became the first US quick-service restaurant chain with a mobile app that allowed pre-ordering and prepaying. It has been downloaded around 3.7 million times. According to Food World News, those who use the app spend more than $10 on average—which adds up to a lot of chalupas.
The lessons the brand is learning from its mobile efforts are now informing decisions that it is making at the retail locations as well. Vice President of Digital Tressie Lieberman told Entrepreneur that that data is influencing such things as the installation of touchscreen ordering kiosks, virtual kitchens where consumers in front of the restaurant can watch their food being cooked on a monitor, and a digital communication board for employees to connect and collect needed information.
In addition, Taco Bell is continuing to build up its delivery service as well as dipping its toe into gamification by launching an online loyalty reward program later this year that will involve gaming for points.
Case in point: the just-opened Taco Bell Cantina in San Francisco, which features a window where consumers can pick up their mobile orders. This element will be built into Taco Bells in pedestrian-heavy locations going forward.
Its new store in Chicago’s Wicker Park features an “open kitchen, new shareable items and most importantly, ‘Twisted Freezes’ loaded with rum, vodka or tequila, in addition to beer and wine,” according to Eater Chicago.
The changes mostly spring from Taco Bell’s Digital Innovation & On Demand team, which launched last spring and has aimed to work like a sort of an in-house startup, pushing digital and mobile ideas forward as quickly as possible.