In early September, Burger King unveiled restaurant designs for the future, including a fully contactless model with a suspended kitchen and dining room sitting above drive-thru lanes, configured to reduce the building’s footprint. Drive-thru customers can even have their order delivered via conveyor belt system.
But what about the present? The COVID-19 challenges facing Burger King and its sister brands, Popeyes and Tim Hortons, aren’t on hold.
Parent company Restaurant Brands International announced Tuesday morning it will modernize the drive-thru experience at more than 10,000 Burger King and Tim Hortons locations by the end of next year, with Popeyes beginning a rollout of its own in late 2020. This includes the installation of about 40,000 screens.
Burger King has more than 6,500 U.S. drive thrus. This past quarter, drive-thru mix lifted to more than 85 percent of total sales versus two-thirds in 2019.
"Our guests have sought out our drive-thru lanes for our iconic food and beverages throughout the COVID-19 pandemic—even in the face of mandated dining room closures around the world," CEO Jose Cil said in a statement. "We believe strongly that it is time to modernize our drive-thru lanes throughout the US and Canada to provide even better, quicker and contactless service for our guests.
The initiative includes presenting menu options on digital screens tailored to each guest, as well as the integration of the company’s loyalty program at the moment of ordering, providing remote, contactless payment to speed up drive-thru lanes in the near future, Cil added.
THE COVID-19 ROAD FOR RBI SO FAR:
Burger King Tests Zero-Waste Packaging
Popeyes Keeps Double-Digit Sales Streak Alive
Burger King Introduces Restaurants for a Post-COVID World
Burger King Parent to Close 'Several Hundred' Restaurants
Burger King Gets Back to Pre-COVID Sales
Restaurant Leaders: We Must Be Part of the Solution
Popeyes, the Pandemic Proof Fast-Food Chain
Popeyes and its Chicken Sandwich are Still Soaring
How Burger King Plans to Keep Guests, Employees Safe as it Reopens
Coronavirus Crisis No Match for Popeyes’ Chicken Sandwich
Popeyes' Sales Were Surging in Q1
Burger King Parent Advances Cash to Franchisees, Defers Rent
"We have attracted exceptional digital and technology talent to join our global team and our digital drive-thru menu board initiative is just one in a series of strategic projects that we are rolling out over the next year to strengthen our business model and improve the level of service we provide to our guests," Josh Kobza, RBI's chief operating officer, said in a statement.
Here’s what to expect:
RBI is designing new digital drive-thru menuboards with predicative selling technology created by the company’s in-house “guest intelligence” team. These will allow for special promotions to be curated based on previous orders, regional weather patterns, the time of day, and many other factors. It’s similar, in some ways, to McDonald’s Dynamic Yield technology.
RBI said the platform can dynamically learn preferred ordering habits and also show the latest and trending menu items most-ordered in the customer’s location. The company’s guest intelligence team will continue to refine the technology to further enhance guests’ ordering experience over time, it said.
Integrated loyalty program
The menuboards were created with the ability to integrate loyalty programs, allowing for customized menu items to be displayed based on a guests’ favorite purchases and redemption history. This functionality is currently live and piloting at 30 locations in Canada with the Tims Rewards program. All digital drive-thru menuboards in the U.S. and Canada were designed to accommodate loyalty integration via scanning, Bluetooth, or near-field communication.