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Jack in the Box Prioritizes Mobile, Delivery to Drive Sales in 2018

During its fourth quarter 2017 earnings conference call on Nov. 30th, Chairman and CEO Lenny Comma revealed some highlights from the Jack in the Box technology roadmap. The company has plans for mobile ordering and payment as well as delivery services, but its first priority is ensuring that a stable platform is built that can properly support these initiatives.

Jack in the Box currently offers a mobile application that supports order ahead functionality and payment in select markets, but Comma anticipates rolling out mobile and web ordering system-wide in 2018. When asked to expand on this particular tech initiative, Comma detailed that the company plans to offer the most basic services first which he defined as mobile order and pay.

"Then we will build on the tech from there," he added. "We are most concerned about growing out stable platforms that don't disappoint the guest by failing."

Comma stressed that the timing for these initiatives will be dependent upon the satisfactory stability of the platform. As the company tests new tech platforms, exceptional results will lead to the company coming to market faster with new tech initiatives whereas poor results would extend the timeframe.

"If you set a very strict timeline, you can potentially compromise some of what you intend the consumer impact to be," he concluded. "The most important outcome here is a strong first impression with our consumers, not the timing of the rollout."

In the future, the company will consider integrating delivery and loyalty programs.

Comma also noted Jack in the Box's plans for expanding food delivery which he said has generated an incremental sales lift in markets where it is offered. Currently it is delivering Jack in the Box food for approximately 42% of its system but it expects to further expand delivery to about 58% by the end of January to more than 1,3000 restaurants.

When asked about its use of kiosks, Comma mentioned that it was one of the first brands to use kiosks and it continues to believe that "there could be a place for kiosks in our future." In the past, kiosks have made an impact on business and led to a higher average check. However, instead of diving in and putting a kiosk in every location, the company wants to seriously consider what it wants to offer customers in the way of a digital experience.

"There is going to be an interesting sort of interplay between the use of mobile phones and the use of kiosks, and how far as you should go with kiosks versus how far you should with mobile apps, particularly as a payment source," Comma stated.

With the rise of mobile phones as a payment portal, Comma noted that smartphones have really become "an extension of the POS system." With that in mind, he said Jack in the Box needs to ask itself how much it really wants to invest in technology within the dining room.


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