Your fast-food drive-thru will soon be easier and faster
McDonald's has been acquiring Israeli tech startups to streamline its ordering process. And yes, you can have fries with that.
From their inception, drive-thrus at fast-food restaurants were meant to be an easier, even faster alternative to dining in: pull up, order your meal, pay at the window, receive your food. Over and out.
The process, though efficient, is not without its hiccups. Order inaccuracies, long lines, cranky customers, cranky employees ... clearly some improvements were needed.
Those improvements appear to be underway, as McDonald's has just announced the acquisition of Apprente, a Silicon Valley startup founded by two Israeli tech entrepreneurs. They create voice-based platforms for complex, noisy, multilingual, multi-accent and multi-item conversational ordering. In McDonald's restaurants, the technology is expected to allow for faster, simpler and more accurate order taking at the drive-thru. In the future, it's expected that the technology will be incorporated into other facets of the restaurants, such as mobile ordering and in-store kiosks.
Apprente's partnership with the fast-food giant will also create a new internal group within McDonald's Global Technology team called McD Tech Labs.
"McDonald's commitment to innovation has long inspired our team. It was quite clear from our various engagements that McDonald's is leading the industry with technology," said Itamar Arel, who co-founded Apprente with Moshe Looks and is vice president of McD Tech Labs. "Apprente was born out of an opportunity to use technology to solve challenging real world problems, and we're thrilled to now apply this to creating personalized experiences for customers and crew."
The acquisition of Apprente builds on several key advances McDonald's has introduced in recent years to improve the employee and customer experience. In April, McDonald's acquired Tel Aviv-based Dynamic Yield, developer of personalization and decision logic technology that rotates drive-thru menu displays to show food based on time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic and trending menu items.
And in March, the chain implemented RightHear, a system that eases accessibility for the visually impaired, into its 180 locations in Israel. Like Apprente, RightHear was founded by two Israelis.
"Building our technology infrastructure and digital capabilities ... enable us to meet rising expectations from our customers, while making it simpler and even more enjoyable for crew members to serve guests," said Steve Easterbrook, McDonald's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Apprente's gifted team, and the technology they have developed ... will take our culture of innovation one step further."
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