Here’s what the McDonald’s drive-thru of the future could look like

New York
CNN Business

McDonald’s hopes a drive-thru lane with a food conveyor belt, a pick-up room for delivery people and a shelf where people can grab their orders will make life easier for customers on the go.

The features are being tested at a restaurant near Fort Worth, Texas, the burger chain announced Thursday.

Prompt service is crucial for fast food restaurants, as customers may abandon a brand after experiencing long wait times. It’s especially important to move customers through the drive-thru quickly because people who see a long line of cars might be visiting a competitor instead. Drive-through times slowed by an average of 45 seconds in 2022 compared to 2019 at industry-leading chains, according to this year’s Drive-Thru report by QSR and Intouch Insight.

A customer picks up a McDonald's order from a conveyor.

“As the needs of our customers continue to evolve, we are committed to finding new ways to serve them faster and easier than ever before,” said Max Carmona, senior director of global design and restaurant development at McDonald’s. , in a statement on the new concept. .

The test restaurant is smaller than most locations, designed specifically for customers who want to take out. Inside, there are kiosks for placing take-out orders, in addition to pick-up shelves and delivery rooms. Outside, customers will see dedicated parking spaces for curbside pickup, as well as delivery drivers.

The pre-order lane is reserved for customers who have placed their order using the McDonald’s mobile app prior to arrival. Once there, they can head to the reserved lane, where someone at a pick-up stand will confirm the order. From there, customers pick up their order on a food and beverage conveyor belt.

The new location concept has parking and a dedicated pick-up room for delivery couriers.

Although drive-thru times are slower than they were in 2019, they have improved from last year, when a shortage of workers and increased demand for drive-thru services, delivery and take-out orders have thrown restaurants into disarray.

Restaurants want to keep moving in the right direction. To that end, a number of chains are exploring new drive-thru options.

McDonald's unveiled the new testing location on Thursday.

Taco Bell unveiled a concept restaurant in June with four drive-thru lanes and orders delivered by “vertical elevator” from the kitchen. Burger King has explored the triple pass lanes and burger pick-up lockers. Applebee tried a drive-thru window for the first time last year. McDonald’s first announced plans to improve its drive-thru in 2020.

Along with adding drive-thru lanes and making it easier to take orders, restaurants have invested in technology designed to make the experience smoother, including digital menu boards and AI-enabled voice commands .

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