When Big Macs Meet Big Data
McDonalds is joining other fast-food restaurants in automating the ordering process. But at the Golden Arches, it’s happening (for now) mainly in Europe, where 7,000 touch-screen kiosks to perform cashier duty. The touch screens will only accept debit or credit cards.
In the United States, McDonald’s home base, the company recently added 62,000 employees. However, if the kiosks work well across the Atlantic, it stands to reason they’ll be here pronto. The kiosks should increase efficiency and make ordering easier for customers. McDonald’s is a company that tests its outlets on timing and accuracy, at least in the United States, using secret shoppers — so it takes satisfaction seriously.
The system will also be an excellent source of customer data. How many meals are sold? A la carte items? Do people really want an apple pie with that? That could help McDonald’s refine and expand their menus and potentially cater to regional tastes.
We shall see how quickly the kiosks move stateside. But the U.S. has not been shut out entirely; the fast food giant does offer, in select markets, a build-your-own burger kiosk. That’s a digital display in primarily California outlets but also in NYC that lets customers select from various ingredients and make their own creation. The chain has come a long way from what made it popular to begin with: Mass produced food that was uniform. Sure, it’s still relatively cheap and it is certainly speedy, but technology has allowed McDonalds to answer the call of consumers requesting their unique culinary demands be met.
The global interactive display market is expected to reach a value of more than $14 billion by 2020, according to research by Markets and Markets. That’s a huge opportunity for kiosk makers and solution providers, but it also means that retailers should start looking for opportunities in which a display or kiosk can enhance the customer experience — before the competition does.
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