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McDonald’s bets on tech for better ratings

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Westlife Development Ltd, the company which operates McDonald’s in West and South India, is betting on technology to improve the overall consumer experience and get better ratings to drive footfalls.
Over the next four years, the company will convert at least a third of its 281 restaurants to be digitally-enabled with self-ordering kiosks, tablets for browsing the internet or gaming, free wi-fi and wireless chargers, a top executive said.

The burger chain has been piloting these digitally-enabled places called the Experience of the Future (EOTF) restaurants for the last one year and has noticed that the EOTFs have higher consumer review ratings on various apps at 4.2-4.4 on 5, compared to the average McDonald’s store’s 3.3-3.5 consumer review rating.

“People are increasingly getting more comfortable with technology,” says Amit Jatia, vice-chairman, Westlife Development, adding that digital connectivity and gadgets are a big part of improving the overall consumer experience.

Better online reviews help increase business. Nearly 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to a study conducted last year by search-engine-optimisation consultant BrightLocal. Moreover, nearly half of the consumers’ survey need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business, it noted.

Under EOTF, the quick service restaurant (QSR) chain is able to offer consumers a sit-down dining experience. Consumers can customize and place their orders at self-ordering kiosks and get table service. Self-ordering kiosks already account for a fifth of the overall sales for stores that have these machines. Moreover, consumers ordering on self-ordering kiosks customize a lot more than those ordering at a normal counter. A majority at 55% opt for cashless transactions.

Moreover, EOTFs also have digital menu boards displaying calorie counts for every item on the menu and also offers consumers options of salads and rice if they want a healthy or a more filling meal.

Even rival KFC India is upping its technology quotient in areas like ordering food. The company recently launched services like the ‘Facebook Chatbot’ and ‘One Click Button’, which allows quick reorder of your favourite order. “Riding the digital wave, at KFC we continually work towards evolving our digital assets and updating relevant platforms,” said Moksh Chopra, chief marketing officer, KFC India while explaining that the company is looking at innovations to ensure customers enjoy a seamless interaction with the brand at all digital touchpoints.

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