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Quick-Service Restaurants Shifting to Digital and Mobile Models

By Laura Stotler December 22, 2020

A number of quick-service restaurants (QSRs) are shifting their business models as the coronavirus pandemic has forced changes to how consumers order meals and eat at restaurants. Some major chains have rolled out new digital innovations and options while scaling back or limiting their in-person dining offerings to comply with local mandates and restrictions.

Chipotle Mexican Grill recently opened its first digital-only location in response to a shift in the way its consumers are ordering and eating during COVID-19. The company reports that its digital sales grew by an astounding 203 percent in the third quarter of this year, compared to the same time period in 2019. And digital revenues made up around half of the chain's total sales during that same quarter.

Taco Bell is also planning to open its first mobile-only pickup restaurants in early 2021. The chain is rolling out Taco Bell Go Mobile restaurants, designed specifically for mobile ordering and pickup. The building will be about half the size of a regular Taco Bell and will feature a new drive-thru system specifically designed for mobile pickup.

Shake Shack is also making changes to keep apace with the new digital ordering climate. The company has been relying heavily on the Shack Track digital preordering and fulfillment platform to process orders during the pandemic. The solution enables customers to preorder online or via the restaurant's Shack App. They may then pick up their food a walk-up and drive-up windows, in stores or curbside.

The company also piloted a program this month to enable mobile app users to have food delivered through Uber Eats. Shake Shack plans to expand this option nationally in 2021.

“Since the pandemic began, we have accelerated our digital investment,” said Steph So, head of digital experience at Shake Shack. “I don’t see that slowing down.” She added that the company has been fast-tracking many digital programs in an effort to quickly repond to customers' needs.

“This is the first time we have offered delivery directly through the Shack App, so we’re really looking forward to seeing how this feature takes off,” said So. She added that customers have been the lead influencers in rolling out new options and services and that customer engagement is one of the main goals of the company.

Shake Shack is now exploring the use of AI and machine learning (ML) to boost ordering, payment and pickup capabilities as well as to expand its customer base.

“Our digital strategy is all about bringing enlightened hospitality to a digital scale and providing a personal, not just personalized, experience for each of our guests,” she said. “While we don’t have any plans to share just yet, we are looking at components such as AI to build into our toolkit.”




Edited by Maurice Nagle
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CustomerZone360 Contributing Editor

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