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KFC Looks to Automate Its Drive-Thrus as Part of Its 2020 Strategy

Between fried chicken wings, online ordering capabilities and now, drive-thru automation, the Colonel really has his hands full.

By Taylor Karg1851 Franchise Contributor
Updated 8:08AM 10/29/19

It’s true that 2020 may be the year of the Rat (according to Chinese Zodiac), but in terms of KFC and its digital strategy, 2020 is the year of the automated drive-thru. 

According to Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN), as part of its 2020 digital strategy, KFC is focused on automating and personalizing its drive-thru systems. 

The digital push comes on the heels of KFC’s “announcement” of its new online ordering platform, which was launched with little-to-no marketing the same day it launched Kentucky Fried Wings, according to NRN. 

The fried chicken chain is exploring AI-powered digital menu boards that could automate the process of taking orders, as well as upsell different menu items. It’s also looking into license plate recognition capabilities, which it says could help drive-thru check averages due to consistent suggestive selling and personalization, NRN says. 

The license plate capability could also recognize a customer’s favorite meal or last order. 

“The next phase of the journey is really focusing on the drive-thru,” said U.S. Chief Technology Officer Christopher Caldwell to NRN. “There’s a lot of really cool things we can do [for customers] on an external digital menu board that would really make their experience much better.”

KFC plans to test out these technologies at select locations across the country. However, Caldwell is pretty confident that “a number of franchisees will be interested in becoming early adopters.” 

He also told NRN that KFC automating its services isn’t about replacing labor; it's about redeploying labor. 

It will be interesting to see if and how these technologies will create a better customer experience; especially if the license plate technology really can recognize a customer’s last order. 

That could make for some embarrassing moments… for example, this writer’s unadulterated love for KFC biscuits. 

Read the full NRN article here