Before diving into the drive-thru element further, McDonald’s began fiscal 2019 in stellar fashion. The company reported first-quarter global comparable same-store sales of 5.4 percent on Tuesday, including a 4.5 percent increase in the U.S. The stateside comps reflected successful promotions, McDonald’s said, including the Bacon Event, its $5 Mix and Match deal, and Donut Sticks, as well as a net positive impact from the EOTF designs.
Overall revenue fell 3.6 percent to $4.96 billion but hiked 2 percent in constant currency as McDonald's continues to refranchise. Operating income declined 2 percent to $2.09 billion. It was up 3 percent in constant currency and adjusted earnings per share dipped to $1.78 from $1.79.
McDonald’s sales lift wasn’t driven by guest counts in the U.S. The chain didn’t provide exact figures, only to say it was similar to recent declines (traffic fell 2.2 percent last year). Pricing was up about 2 percent in Q1 and average check drove the figure. This is another reason speeding up the drive thru is so important for McDonald’s. Is the slowdown costing the chain transactions?
In March, McDonald’s announced it was spending $300 million to acquire startup Dynamic Yield. The decision-logic company gives McDonald’s the chance to create a more personalized experience by varying outdoor digital drive-thru menu displays to show food based on time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic, and trending menu items. It can instantly suggest and show additional products to a customer’s order base on their current selections.
Chief executive officer Steve Easterbook said during Tuesday’s conference call that McDonald’s has already begun rollout of the technology. It’s up and running in 700 drive thrus across the U.S.
In regards to speed, the platform uses data collected based on current restaurant traffic, and then starts suggesting items that make peak times easier on restaurant operations and crews, Easterbook said. Over time, the technology will expand across all of McDonald’s digital platforms, including its app and self-order kiosks.
“When our technology ecosystem is linked, it will provide a seamless ordering experience for our customers and will leverage our size and scale to take advantage of being one of the first brick-and-mortar companies to integrate decision logic into the customer ordering process,” he said.