The company highlighted this at the end of last week when it opened its 100th next-gen store in the state of California. Like the other Dunkin’ concept stores, this one features faster drive-thru service for mobile orders and a sizable roundup of cold-brew coffees on tap, and self-service kiosks, which are fast becoming less “concept” in QSRs and more the expected norm.
The new store, in Santa Ana, is the ninth such Dunkin’ location to test these touchscreen kiosks, which resemble those of McDonald’s in look and feel. Dunkin’s entire menu is available on these kiosks, which are placed inside the store and process ordering and payments, including payment via the Dunkin’ loyalty program. Also like McDonald’s system, a digital board by the pickup counter displays each order number and whether it’s in progress or ready to be collected by the customer.
While the kiosk itself is noteworthy, it’s what Dunkin’ will do with the device that matters more. Nation’s Restaurant News, who has some nice photos of the kiosks, noted that the kiosks allow guests to customize their drinks and food. NRN didn’t go into exhaustive detail about the level of customization, but Dunkin’s system will definitely have to go deeper than simply asking whether a guest wants a shot of vanilla flavoring in their latte (a common question if you order a latte at a QSR). As more restaurant chains adopt these kiosks and as more customers order and pay through rewards programs that store profile information and preferences, kiosks will have to get smarter about what they’re enabling in terms of making an order more personal and doing so faster.
McDonald’s set the bar high earlier this year when it acquired Dynamic Yield, whose “decision technology” uses AI to recommend items based on time of day, weather, a customer’s order history, and trending menu items, among other things.
Dunkin’ hasn’t yet made any acquisition announcements of its own, though around the time it launched its first next-gen store and dropped the “donuts” out of its name, Wired pointed out that the via the company’s Innovation Lab, “facial- and voice-recognition are on Dunkin’s radar,” and that the chain was also looking at AI. So it would be in no way surprising if we soon get news that Dunkin’ is making bigger moves towards AI-powered recommendations and personalization.