Big mergers and acquisitions typically happen between the big names in the industry. Hence, McDonald’s noticed a juicy opportunity to upgrade their drive-thru technology, which drives 70% of their business, and swiftly bought the group that makes the AI software. This is the largest move McDonalds has made since they bought fast-casual diner, Boston Market in 2000.
Companies are competing in a new arena now, and wars over market share will be won by businesses ready to deal with new customer expectations on quickness, quality and convenience.
Drive-Thru 2.0 is Coming
In a communication to franchise owners obtained by Restaurant Business, McDonald’s USA President Chris Kempczinski stated that the newly-acquired technology would enable the Golden Arched giant and its franchisees to increase average check, cash flow and quickness of service.
The technology will display a customized set of menu items in a way that makes for easier and faster transactions, which is perfect during busy periods and times where the staff may be short-handed. Self-service kiosks are also making their way into the spotlight and have been warmly welcomed by customers everywhere. The most attractive aspect is that new cloud-based POS systems are able to be updated with a press of a button, and no restaurant downtime.
As casual-dining and fast-casual chains are quickly finding ways to add value and enhance customer experience, ordering your favorite restaurant meals is becoming easier. This is mainly due to the advent of online ordering apps, which have allowed more businesses a way to offer timely and affordable delivery options to their hungry customers. Companies like UberEats, ChowNow, Bite Squad and others are joining forces with local eateries to help deliver more food to more customers, and so far they are doing a great job. Industry experts point out that a similar change happened in the 70’s when some quick service eateries added a drive-thru window. The way to grab that favorite meal or snack was made easier and more people reacted by “driving-thru” more often. Fast-forward 45 years and it is happening all over again.
Use Grandma’s Recipe, but not her Technology
The nations biggest quick-service chains have noticed the changes and are investing heavily to take advantage. “Technology is playing a bigger and bigger role in the restaurant industry,” Yum President David Gibbs stated earlier this year. A hint of concern is perhaps expected as technology also helps narrow the gap between the small-to-medium businesses that are now competing with them online.
In the past, the ability of large fast-food chains to make these investments has given them a bigger sales edge over smaller quick-service companies. This has changed recently due to cloud-based restaurant POS systems that include all of the most innovative features while integrating seamlessly with online ordering and food delivering apps. A rise in upgraded POS options and features has encouraged many business owners to invest in technology in order to keep up with the competition.
As many other businesses had to do in the past, McDonalds is also looking to use its resources to upgrade the drive-thru with modern technology that helps increase sales by guessing what diners will order and arranging the display accordingly. Will fast-food make a comeback? Only time (and maybe technology) will tell.
It’s the type of technology that will give the fast-food burger giant a major advantage over smaller rivals that choose not to upgrade. The good news is that with restaurant technology developing so quickly many of these new features are going to be accessible, even if you aren’t quite as big as the Golden Arches.