The tech blog VentureBeat has an interesting post up about how major QSR chains are following the lead of McDonald’s by applying artificial intelligence for driving sales and customer experience.
It notes that Burger King worked with Intel and an AI company to come up with a recommendation engine for touchscreen ordering. “It can predict,” says the story, “whether a customer will order a hot or cold drink or a light or large meal, potentially saving time and leading to a better customer experience.”
The story also notes that Dunkin’ Donuts is testing drive-thrus that can recognize a loyalty member as they pull up, some Sonic drive-ins now have AI-powered menu kiosks. And Chick-fil-A uses AI to spot signs of foodborne illnesses, based on chatter from social media posts.
Luyang Wang, director of advanced analytics and machine learning at Burger King, told VentureBeat:
To solve these challenges, TxT was built with what’s called a “double” Transformer architecture that learns real-time order sequence data, as well as features like location, weather, and order behavior. TxT leverages all data points available in a restaurant without having to identify customers prior to the order-taking process.
For example, if a customer puts a milkshake as the first item in their basket, that will influence what TxT suggests — based on what’s been sold in the past, what’s selling today, and what is sold at that location.
TxT was developed within Analytics Zoo, Intel’s open source platform for big data analytics workloads running in datacenters. Intel and Burger King collaborated to create an end-to-end recommendation pipeline, which includes distributed Apache Spark data processing and Apache MXNet training on an Intel Xeon cluster. The TxT model was deployed using Intel’s RayOnSpark library, which allows enterprises to directly run programs on existing clusters.
According to Wang, TxT has already led to surprising sales insights. For one, Burger King customers will order milkshakes in any weather — even when it’s cold out. And people are much more willing to add a dessert when they have a high-calorie basket versus a low-calorie basket.
McDonald’s back in 2019 acquired an Israeli company, Dynamic Yield, to enable suggestive selling n menu displays, using machine learning and AI. The CEO said in 2020 the investment was already paying off.