New Burger King drive-thrus may already know what you want

Digital drive-thru menu boards with loyalty scanning and contactless payment reader at Tim Hortons.
Digital drive-thru menu boards at a single drive-thru location at Tim Hortons.
Digital drive-thru menu boards at a single drive-thru Burger King.
Digital drive-thru menu boards at a single drive-thru Burger King.

Burger King’s parent company is rolling out 10,000 newly designed drive-thrus at North American locations including the D.C. area, and the digital menus have what it calls predictive selling.

The drive-thru changes are in part a response to the shift in consumer behavior since the coronavirus pandemic began, with an increase in drive-thru sales.

Many Burger King locations will have two parallel drive-thru lanes. They will include multiple digital menus and signs that can be tailored to each customer and integrate loyalty perks rewards, as well as contactless payment systems.

The predictive selling technology allows for special promotions to be tailored based on a customer’s previous orders, as well as regional weather patterns, the time of day and other factors. Restaurant Brands’ in-house Guest Intelligence team developed the technology that can dynamically learn preferred ordering habits and show the latest and trending menu items most-ordered in each location.

The menu boards can even address individual customers by name.

“We have attracted exceptional digital and technology talent to join our global team and our digital drive-thru menu board initiative is just one in a series of strategic projects that we are rolling out over the next year to strengthen our business model and improve the level of service we provide to our guests,” said Josh Kobza, Restaurant Brands chief operating officer.

Digital menu boards accommodate loyalty integration via scanning, Bluetooth or near-field communication.

Restaurant Brands has already upgraded its drive-thru operations at more than 1,500 Burger King locations in the U.S. and 800 Tim Hortons locations in Canada.

Burger King has nearly 60 locations in the D.C. region.

Restaurant Brands International also owns the Tim Hortons fast food chain, which is included in the new drive-thru concepts.

Rising Covid-19 cases in North America mean that unexpected dining-room closures aren’t over. In early October, Tim Hortons restaurants in Ontario had to temporarily close dining rooms because of restrictions, CEO Jose Cil mentioned during Tuesday’s call, making the environment in Canada “challenging.” Cases are rising in the United States, as well.

Below is a video of one such digital Burger King drive-thru:

CNN contributed to this report.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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