Burger chain McDonald’s is using the UK as the base for a trial of four cutting-edge stores involving a raft of innovative technologies that it intends to roll out around the world.
Speaking at the Wincor Nixdorf Executive Briefing in New York – alongside the NRF Convention & Expo – Mark Fabes, IT director for McDonald’s Restaurants, stated that the UK was now leading on customer technology, which represents a radical departure from 2004 when he says the business was “on its knees”.
As part of its ‘Spirit of Family’ trial the company has four outlets around the UK that are the test-bed for initiatives in both the front-of-house and the kitchen. Each restaurant is fitted out with Wincor Nixdorf self-service kiosks that Fabes says enable customers to order at their own pace and which are particularly popular with families.
All orders are then transferred onto an order board at the front counter that shows if a customer’s food is ready or being prepared. Also at the front counter is a screen that shows images of what has been ordered thereby allowing any incorrect orders to be picked-up.
With free wi-fi and contactless payment platforms already in place in all McDonald’s UK stores Fabes says there is the potential for handheld ordering technologies to be implemented. By taking NFC technology he recognises the “massive opportunity for queue busting and taking additional orders from up-selling”.
Utilising this wi-fi are the 16 iPads that have been installed in the four trial stores. “They’ve been a big hit with children as lots of people do not have access to the internet [at home]. We had three stolen in the first week!” he says.
Also appealing to children are the interactive surfaces that enable games to be played on the surface of specific tables, and for more active games-playing there are the interactive floors. “We’re adding to the time people spend in-store so they’ll order extra coffee, a dessert and since the kids are running around like mad they’ll get thirsty,” says Fabes.
New technology is also being utilised in the back-office with a workforce management tool combined onto a single platform with the training programmes of each member of the crew. The crew rooms also have two PCs installed that provide the ability for work scheduling, online learning, and access to Facebook.
These various initiatives have resulted in sales rising by 18% and Fabes confirmed four or five more stores will be added to the trial. “The UK is the trial country but it’s being developed for global use. Consumers are connected and we’ve got to be prepared for this,” he suggests.