Why Would You Reserve a Fast-Food Sandwich Online?

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Because if you do so and reserve a specific date and window of time to pick up your sandwich, you get the sandwich for free.

The morsel in question is Chick-fil-A’s new Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Click on the link and you can find nearby Chick-fil-A locations and make a reservation. Reservations must be made by June 5, and free sandwiches are available for pickup in three-hour windows (11 a.m. to 2 p.m., for example) from May 31 to June 5. Starting on June 7, the sandwich is officially posted on the restaurant’s menu, but by then you’ll actually have to pay for one.

As the Christian Science Monitor ruminates, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill promotion. It seems like this is certainly a strategy to drive traffic to the company’s website, and it is also something of an experiment to see if consumers like the idea of ordering food in advance online.

This could work. Fast food can never be too fast, and lots of customers will welcome the elimination of even the briefest of waits that accompany the typical act of ordering in the restaurant.

The CSM, dreaming big, suggests four other items it would like to see sold ahead of time, with its online reservation wish list:

4) The fast-food drive-through. Who wants to idle away their minutes behind a minivan with drivers yelling at a broken speaker when they could be reserving a Wendy’s Baconator and fries pickup for 12:19 p.m.? (Penalty for being late: Your Frosty will melt.)

3) The in-store sample. Use your iPhone to pick up the week’s groceries at the same time that the nice Doritos lady is introducing a new line of chips. You get to taste how she does nachos and avoid the dude on Tuesdays making jerky from Vienna sausage.

2) Outdoor cafe table. Not just a reservation, a reserved table at Chez Pierre from 6 to 7:50 p.m. You guarantee your favorite table next to potted plant No. 2. And the waiter can kick you out at 8 if you linger too long over the vichyssoise.

1) Hot stadium meal. Since everyone goes to the concession stand at exactly same time, engendering long lines, wouldn’t it make sense to schedule these things and have it delivered to your seat? Inning No. 1, the beverage guy delivers. Inning No. 2, the chili dog with all the trimmings arrives, followed closely by Mr. Frenchy Fry. By the time of the seventh inning stretch, you’re ready for that ice cream novelty or a popcorn chaser.

A Year’s Worth of Free Food at Chick-fil-A and other Restaurant Chains