Home Latest News You Know The AI Era Has Arrived When McDonald’s Is Using It For Menus

You Know The AI Era Has Arrived When McDonald’s Is Using It For Menus

by Jonathan Adams
AI Era Has Arrived for McDonald’s

AI, Machine Learning, Deep Learning. We’re constantly covering the latest developments in the application of these technology sub-categories and their application in biotech, smart cities, ecommerce, agriculture and the rest. The application of AI seems natural in optimising complex matters most of us don’t really understand the finer details of.

But when McDonald’s buys an AI start-up to start using it to tweak their drive-thru menus, is that when we can call the beginning of an era where the use of AI is just a given for any significant business? If so, that era starts now.

McDonald’s, the fast food burger chain that did more than any to shape the modern fast food market, has stumped up a reported $300 million to acquire Dynamic Yield. The company trialled software created by the AI-based ‘decision logic’ start-up, which is based between New York and Tel Aviv, last year. The AI analyses the huge volumes of sales data generated by McDonald’s restaurants and ‘drive-thrus’, to spot consumer behaviour patterns. It then optimises menus to take advantage of those patterns, enticing visitors to spend more.

The trial obviously showed promise with McDonald’s having moved to buy the start-up outright. Dynamic Yield will remain as an independent business despite being under the 100% ownership of McDonald’s. Other clients include big retail names such as Ikea and Urban Outfitters and it can be presumed that Dynamic Yield will continue to serve other businesses that are not competitors of their new owners.

Future McDonald’s menus will be dynamic rather than fixed. Factors from the weather, the time of day, best-sellers and how busy the restaurant is all influence buyer behaviour. So if it’s a hot day, the menu will suddenly display ice creams and chilled drinks more prominently. Or coffee in the morning. The AI also looks at metrics such as what buyers of, say, 8 or 12 Chicken McNuggets, most often compliment their core purchase with. So in an Amazon-style ‘buyers who bought this product also bought…’, customers with particular order will be suggested add-ons that huge volumes of data suggest they would be most likely to buy.

The new technology will be gradually rolled out across the USA over the course of this year and after the beta phase is complete will go worldwide. McDonald’s has around 38,000 restaurants in over 100 countries, meaning the volume of customer data the AI will leverage to spot the decision-making patterns of diners is huge. But it obviously won’t be long before the doner kebab place between the pub and your house is using AI to up your ill-advised late night/early morning spend!

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