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Rising Expectations for the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR)

Good food and fast service have long been hallmarks of the quick service retail restaurant industry. But today, rising customer expectations are raising the bar for QSRs. A recent study showed that fewer than half of restaurants meet customer expectations in areas like easy ordering, interactive tools and technology, and delivery.

Those opting for a quick meal think a little differently than a dine-in customer. The QSR customer wants customization, accuracy, and value—all rolled into one convenient experience. Managers want the ability to maximize upsells and streamline inventory management.

Now, new technologies are improving QSR experiences and helping restaurants get ahead of fast-changing customer demands. As a result, restaurants are better equipped to deliver food to customers as quickly and conveniently as possible, while staff have more time to focus on customer service.

Future Technology of QSR

A decade ago, most drive-through restaurants gauged the speed of a customer's interaction by measuring the time between the customer placing an order at the menu screen and reaching the pickup window. Today, this monitoring process is outdated and doesn't provide the full picture of a customer's experience.

Technologies such as computer vision are transforming QSRs into smart restaurants. Wait times are still recorded; however, computer vision can report important details, such as how many cars are lined up or how many turned away due to long wait times.

The coming wave of solutions powered by artificial intelligence (AI) will open a new world of possibilities in customer service and inventory management. For example, speech recognition will enable a more efficient ordering experience with less confusion on either end. A kiosk embedded with computer vision can identify emotional expressions and send for an employee if a customer appears frustrated. A system of cameras that tracks the volume of customers throughout the day and week can help QSRs better predict demand and optimize their inventory management.

QSR Kiosk Technology

A customer walking into a QSR with long lines may quickly rethink their restaurant choice—and that can have a big impact on the restaurant's profitability. Let's say a QSR has 525 unplaced orders of a $4.00 hamburger during the lunch rush monthly across 9,333 locations, the total cost of that single burger adds up to $19.6 million. 

Self-service QSR kiosks can help restaurants ease bottlenecks by allowing customers to order immediately, customize food options, and quickly get help if they need it. Globally, more than 85 percent of consumers are comfortable using a self-service kiosk, and the majority of customers say that kiosks ensure their experience is more convenient. Today's self-ordering kiosks are robust enough to deliver on these demands and withstand customer interaction without staff present.

Kiosks can also boost upsell by allowing greater control and customization. Customers using a kiosk are twice as likely to order a dessert, and the total order value is shown to increase by 20 to 30 percent.

Interactive kiosks featuring Intel® Core™ platform support dynamic, ultrahigh definition (UHD) visual experiences and responsive touchscreens. Plus, processors on the Intel vPro® platform offer additional security features and remote management capabilities. For powerful video analytics and AI-enabled capabilities like people counting and audience analytics, these processors can be paired with an Intel® Movidius™ Vision Processing Unit (VPU) or FPGA.

QSR POS Technology

A well-planned POS strategy can help QSRs maintain smooth operations. The latest POS systems range in style and complexity, from desktop and all-in-one systems to self-ordering kiosks.

POS technologies are increasingly important with the rise of new third-party services like DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats. Food delivery applications have become popular, with usage growing 21 percent between 2018 and 2019. This means QSR staff must sometimes manage two or three tablets for delivery orders.

With Intel® Core™ processor-based devices, restaurants can run third-party applications in virtualized containers on the ordering system, eliminating the need to manage multiple client devices.

Digital Menu Boards for QSR

Restaurant digital signage showcases menu items in a way that's more convenient than static signs. Digital signage has been found to increase sales by 28 percent and order values by 20 to 30 percent.

Intel® Core™ processors support dynamic visual experiences and responsive experiences in digital signage. With processors on the Intel vPro® platform, IT teams can remotely manage digital signage that's otherwise difficult to access.

The next evolution of digital menu boards may also integrate computer vision. The Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO™ toolkit makes it easy to incorporate vision-enabled capabilities, such as object recognition and audience analytics, into digital signage and interactive kiosks.

For example, a restaurant may have one cash register open and eight people waiting in line. Computer vision can "see" how many people are standing in line and trigger a request to open another cash register. This technology can even dispatch a line buster equipped with a tablet to start taking customer orders. And by using computer vision to gather valuable customer data, like demographic measurements, QSRs can create more successful promotions that boost sales.

Transforming the Future of QSR

The latest technologies are making it easier for QSRs to provide self-service options, engage customers with dynamic visual experiences, and empower customers to order customized meals quickly. As a result, employees are free to transition from mundane tasks to serving as ambassadors to customers' real-time dining needs.

What's Going on in the Drive-Thru?

CLICK HERE Listen to experts from Intel and Coates Group discuss the current and future state of the drive-thru and how brands can bring their experience to the next level to drive ROI, using comprehensive digital solutions, AI-enabling technologies and a dynamic content strategy.
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