April 10, 2019 |
Quick service restaurants (QSR) are increasingly looking to use digital technologies such as mobile apps, self-order kiosks and digital signage in their efforts to attract new customers, increase customer loyalty and increase overall profitability.
McDonald’s being one of them, is already at the forefront of using restaurant technologies with its self-order kiosks for example. The company started to implement them to offer diners a more unique experience. The in-store kiosks at their restaurants are also larger and have more robust ordering platform than the iPads and tablets other restaurants are currently using.
However, these self-order kiosks and even online ordering currently do not increase sales at the drive-thru, which in the US accounts for 60% – 70% of QSR sales overall. Therefore, McDonald’s recently acquired the AI company Dynamic Yield, which was founded in Israel and has offices in the US. The company developed a technology that allows machine learning to be used for a high level of customisation in many customer facing industries.
Initially, McDonald’s will use Dynamic Yield’s platform to present customised menu items on the digital signage at their drive-thru locations. The menu items that it proposes will be based on each individual customer’s initial food order and also according to other factors such as current capacity levels at the restaurant, the time of day and even the weather. After a while the system remembers each customer and makes recommendation his past orders.
The Dynamic Yield technology is a great step towards the ultimate goal of personalisation according to McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook. In the below video he emphasises the need to have a state of the art technology that can be implemented across all of the fast food chain’s digital platforms, while referring to the successful personalisation efforts of eCommerce giants Amazon and Walmart.
Apart from McDonald’s, other fast food companies have been testing new drive-thru technology as well. Good Times Burger for example hast started a trial project with Valyant AI’s system, which also uses an artificial intelligence platform to take and process drive-thru orders. The Tex-Mex chain Chipotle is testing drive-thru windows, where customers pickup their food at a designated time at the windows, which they previously ordered online.
Industrywide, several campaigns have been launched in the past months which involved the promotion of new customer facing technologies that got high attention on social and traditional media.
Burger King, for example, recently launched a mobile app campaign which used geofencing to target customers who were within 180 meters of a McDonald’s to try and persuade them to rethink their buying decision. A potential customer needed to have the newest version of the Burger King app installed and if he reached one of these geofenced areas the app would automatically unlock the Whopper sandwich for a penny promotion. Once the 1cent Whopper order has been placed, the user would then be “detoured away” from McDonald’s, and the app guides him to the closest Burger King to pick up his Burger.
McDonald’s, in order to keep their market leader position, has been specifically on the lookout to implement next-generation technology solutions in order to improve customer satisfaction along all touchpoints and to drive sales. After installing 17,000 self-ordering kiosks and 21,000 digital menu boards accross their outlets, the company is now ready to roll out the AI technology of its latest acquisition.
As Dynamic Yield also works with other brands across e-commerce, travel, finance and media, however, McDonald’s confirmed that the company will continue to operate as a standalone entity still serving their existing and future clients.
The CEO and co-founder of Dynamic Yields, Liad Agmon, mentioned in a statement that they started Dynamic Yield seven years ago with the premise that customer-centric brands must make personalisation a core activity. On his company’s acquisition by the fast food giant he says: “We’re thrilled to be joining an iconic global brand such as McDonald’s and are excited to innovate in ways that have a real impact on people’s daily lives.”
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