Table service, touch-screen order kiosks at all 14,000 McDonald's US outlets soon

McDonald's announced on Thursday (Nov 17) that table service and touch-screen order kiosks will soon be available at all 14,000 McDonald's US outlets.
McDonald's announced on Thursday (Nov 17) that table service and touch-screen order kiosks will soon be available at all 14,000 McDonald's US outlets.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK - McDonald's announced on Thursday (Nov 17) a bold plan to roll out its "experience of the future" concept in the United States, reported the Chicago Tribune.

The plans, to be implemented in Chicago and other major US cities, include kiosk ordering and table service, in an effort to better compete with rivals.

The Oak Brook-based burger chain has almost 500 redesigned restaurants around the US so far.

The world's largest fastfood chain will first focus the rollout in Chicago and a handful of other big US cities, including Boston and Washington DC, the report said.

But the company says it will eventually unveil the concept, which has already shown significant success in other countries such as Britain, Australia and Singapore, in all of its 14,000 US restaurants. It did not offer a timeline or overall cost for the project.

"Food ordering is one of the most enjoyable moments at restaurants, but at McDonald's that can be one of the most stressful moments," CEO Steve Easterbrook said.

"The aim is to eliminate that frustration, while also bringing employees out from behind the counter to interact with customers. With the ability to customise, upgrade and add-on items themselves, customers also tend to spend more per visit," he added.

The plan to eventually redesign and upgrade all US restaurants signals a marked change in the eating experience at McDonald's, and also brings big risks. The ambitious remodelling effort was announced by Mr Easterbrook and other company executives on Thursday morning at a redesigned McDonald's in New York City.

The redesigns will provide the option of ordering at a bank of kiosks, though counter service also will be available for those who are paying with cash or prefer not to use the touch-screen machines. After using the kiosk, a customer takes a bluetooth-enabled number placard to a table where an employee will bring the food. Customers are able to pay at the kiosks using a credit or debit card, or Apple or Android pay.

The changes will be largely funded by the franchisees that operate McDonald's restaurants, but the company said it will contribute as well. It is not apparent exactly how much the remodels will cost, and the price will also vary depending on what technology the restaurant currently offers. Ordering kiosks alone can possibly cost US$60,000 (S$85,355).

Incoming US McDonald's president Chris Kempczinski said that while the plan is a big change, he also promised further advancements in food quality and promotions like all-day breakfast, which have been the driver of more than a year of improving sales at the chain.

"It's a great start, a significant step forward, but it's also a sign of things to come," he said.

Touch-screen order kiosks were first introduced in Singapore in 2014 and to date, they are available at 25 outlets, including the one at East Coast Park.