4 high-tech fast food franchise businesses

By Nick Hall | 16 May 2019 View comments

When it comes to staying relevant, innovation is the name of the game. In this era of ordering platforms and delivery services, it’s the nation’s high-tech fast food franchise businesses that are leading the way.

Fast food was born out of a need for quick and convenient offerings on the go. The streamlined systems of operation and uniformity lent themselves well to the franchise model, so it’s no wonder some of the most successful franchises leverage a fast food fare.

Consumer tastes aren’t quite so structured, however. Evolving customer demand has seen a number of fad trends enter the market and exit just as quick.

Bao Vuong, senior industry analyst at IBISWorld said the key to making an impact in the fast food game is meeting customers where they are.

“Fast-food chains will try and stay ahead of the trends and ahead of its competitors and try to innovate to come up with different avenues to boost convenience for its consumers,” he said.

“By being one of the first fast-food chains to adapt a certain technological change, this gives the chain implementing that change a big leg up in the industry and boost in revenue if done right.”

So, what are the high-tech fast food franchise businesses making the most of their innovation focus?

McDonald’s

The franchise giants have become synonymous with innovation over the years. McCafe launched first in Australia, and the global roll-out of kiosk ordering systems was pioneered by the domestic team.

It’s an acquisition from parent company and US master McDonald’s Corporation that is turning heads more recently, however.

In April, McDonald’s announced it had acquired customer experience platform Dynamic Yield. The agreement saw McDonalds leverage the company’s history of helping e-commerce, travel and media brands to create an Amazon-style personalised online experience.

The high-tech fast franchise will introduce outdoor digital drive through menu displays to show food based on time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic and trending menu items.

Additionally, decision technology can also instantly suggest and display additional items to a customer’s order based on their current selections.

The announcement marked a significant step forward for the global brand. With Dynamic Yield’s help, McDonald’s will become one of the first companies to integrate decision technology into the customer point of sale at a brick and mortar location.

“Technology is a critical element of our Velocity Growth Plan, enhancing the experience for our customers by providing greater convenience on their terms,” said Steve Easterbrook, president and chief executive officer, McDonald’s Corporation.

“With this acquisition, we’re expanding both our ability to increase the role technology and data will play in our future and the speed with which we’ll be able to implement our vision of creating more personalised experiences for our customers.”

Pizza Hut

In May, Pizza Hut weighed into the convenience as key conversation with a new partnership.

The pizza chain launched Pizza Hut Instant Ordering, allowing customers to place order directly through Facebook Messenger.

The option opens the door to a wealth of new impulse purchases, with more than 15 million Australians reportedly using the app per month.

The integrated chat-bot is intuitive enough to suggest menu items, pin your location and pay for the items through merchants such as Visa and Cybersource.

Ultimately, the high-tech fast food franchise partnership works on the premise that increasing customer demand for to-door delivery should spill into the digital space.

Domino’s

The global pizza chain has carved out a reputation as an industry leader in new market innovation, particularly in the domestic market.

Domino’s first foray into the technology innovation space came with the integration of its first-to-market GPS delivery driver tracker.

Domino’s Australia CEO, Nick Knight said the a focus on technology was critical to the high-tech fast food franchise business’ continued success.

“At Domino’s we like to think differently and always push the boundaries of what’s possible. This is evident in the rollout of technology such as our popular Live Pizza Tracker, OnTime Cooking and our GPS Driver Tracker technology,” Knight said.

More recently, Domino’s has rolled out its augmented reality, real-time pizza app and unveiled a partnership with Google.

Under the partnership, Domino’s customers are able to order via voice activation on their Google assistant.

Domino’s Group chief digital and technology officer Michael Gillespie said the company was always looking for ways in which to improve the online ordering experience.

“We pride ourselves on introducing new technology that will not only make our customers’ lives easier, but make the entire experience more enjoyable.

“Our online orders regularly exceed 70 per cent of network sales, with more than two million pizzas and sides ordered online every week – so it’s important that we continue to innovate in this space,” he said.

KFC

Similarly, KFC staked its claim as a high-tech fast food franchise earlier this year.

The franchise unveiled a partnership with Amazon that gave customers the opportunity to order from their nearest restaurant via Amazon virtual assistant, Alexa.

While only available to KFC customers in India, the business revealed that further technology innovation was on the cards.

High-tech fast food franchise businesses

Investing in technology has proven to be a viable option for remaining relevant in the competitive fast food market, but it doesn’t come cheap.

Vuong said it’s no surprise that the franchise brands putting innovation on the menu are those with heritage and global backing.

“With all the larger fast-food chains, they are always experimenting and releasing new products, which allows them to see what works, what doesn’t and if a certain trend in the food world would be applicable to its company,” he said.

“Sometimes it might not work, sometimes it might. A good example would be that of Domino’s and everything it has done with technology over the past five years.”

Want to get into the fast food business for yourself? Take a look at these great franchise opportunities.