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McDonald's doubles down on AI: Fast food giant acquires voice-tech startup to improve its interactive menus

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 11/09/2019 Cheyenne Macdonald and James Pero For Dailymail.com

Fast food chain McDonald’s has made yet another push into the world of automation.

The company on Tuesday revealed it is acquiring conversational technology startup Apprente with a plan to integrate its systems with services such as drive-thru menus, self-order kiosks, and the mobile app.

It comes just months after the fast food giant began rolling out AI-powered menus at hundreds of its locations across the United States, using the technology to make more precise menu suggestions.

McDonald's on Tuesday revealed it is acquiring conversational technology startup Apprente with a plan to integrate its systems with services such as drive-thru menus, self-order kiosks, and the mobile app © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited McDonald's on Tuesday revealed it is acquiring conversational technology startup Apprente with a plan to integrate its systems with services such as drive-thru menus, self-order kiosks, and the mobile app

McDonald’s President and CEO Steve Easterbrook said the latest acquisition will make it ‘simpler and even more enjoyable for crew members to serve guests.’

Back in March the company acquired Israeli digital startup Dynamic Yield with similar plans to improve the customer experience using AI.

Its AI menus can suggest items based on the time of day, weather or recent trends, like showing a hashbrown alongside a cheeseburger - a combination that recently went viral on Reddit. 

The menus will also be able to suggest add-on items, such as a Minute Maid orange juice to go along with your McMuffin.  

'We’re leveraging technology to improve and modernize the way we connect with customers,' CEO Steve Easterbrook told investors during an earnings call in May, according to Nation's Restaurant News. 'We're confident about the road ahead.' 

In the future, McDonald's hopes to add the AI software to its apps and kiosks, Easterbrook added. 

The AI-powered menus are also expected to launch in international markets at some point.    

On Dynamic Yield's website, the company describes a mix of services that employ data and analytics to measure and respond to consumer behavior and preference. 

a sign above a store: In the future, McDonald's hopes to add the AI software to its apps and kiosks. The AI-powered menus are also expected to launch in international markets at some point © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited In the future, McDonald's hopes to add the AI software to its apps and kiosks. The AI-powered menus are also expected to launch in international markets at some point

Its testimonials boast substantial uptick in sales and engagement for brands in online retail and more.  

While McDonald's reported sales growth in 2018, which the company attributes to delivery and mobile app ordering, in the U.S. -- the restaurant's key market -- store traffic receded.

Breakfast, in particular, has been an area of concern according to a report from ABC News.

With added competition from direct rivals like Taco Bell, McDonald's has been losing its share of morning-time customers.

To help boost its brand 'stickiness' the company has launched a sprawling, and costly redesign of its stores across the world to the tune of $1.4 billion in 2018 for its U.S. stores alone. 

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