This is how AI has settled in the fast-food menu: chains test artificial intelligence to improve their drive-through services

Take away pick-up has grown amid the pandemic and chains need more speed and dynamism in service

One of the effects that the pandemic has had is on how we consume restaurant food. Regulations that have reduced their hours or closed them have forced consumers to use other types of services and tools to access their products. At the same time, many consumers continue to have reluctance when it comes to going out to lunch or dinner, seeking to protect themselves against the coronavirus.

For this reason, food delivery services have grown in their weight and pull, but so have take away formats that involve the buyer passing through the space. As in supermarkets and in many stores the click-and-collect format has experienced a boom, something similar has also happened in restaurant chains. Drive-through systems are possibly one of the big winners in recent months.

The format was previously very successful in some markets, such as the United States, where fast food chains incorporate it on a regular basis. In other countries, such as Spain, the success of the format and its presence are much more limited, linked to large American fast food chains.

However, the restrictions due to the coronavirus have made its attractive potential grow and that companies are betting much more on the service as a way to continue generating income and connecting with consumers.

This also implies an effort to improve the offer and to refine what is offered and how. Drive-throughs have had to deal with longer queues and longer waiting times. They need to be able to streamline the process so that consumers have to spend less time in that service and not to collapse both their kitchens and the areas in which their restaurants are located with those services.

The chains are betting on making the experiences more omnichannel, promoting the previous use of the app or the online version of their restaurant, and also for rewarding those previous purchases with systems such as fast lanes to pick up the order (Burger King is one of the companies that are testing it and its pilot includes Spain).

But they also try to make the most of everything that technology can offer to simplify orders and strengthen the optimal relationship with the customer, as can be concluded by reading an analysis published by The New York Times. In this improvement and in this use of technology, artificial intelligence is a crucial element. Fast-food chains are beginning to use it to anticipate the needs of their consumers.

Deep Flame and AI

The potential of AI is, above all, in order management. The test formats that are being worked with are focusing on using it to outline a kind of personalized menu, that is, to suggest to buyers what they think they will want. Burger King’s AI is called Deep Flame.

Deep Flame is present in the digital menus of half of the drive-throughs in the chain and adjusts its suggestions to the information at its disposal. For example, change the suggestions based on what is succeeding that day in the area where the restaurant is located.

It is not the only element that it takes into account. Your product suggestions also change due to contextual information, such as the weather. Likewise, the AI ​​takes into account the order history of a specific consumer to offer them one product over another.

Its main competitor is also betting on AI. McDonald’s bought an artificial intelligence company a couple of years ago. His goal was to be able to personalize the promotions he offered to consumers.

Written by Kunal Utwani

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