Today in Restaurant and Grocery Tech: QSR Formats Get a Digital Makeover –

Today in restaurant and grocery tech news: McDonald’s partners with IBM for automated drive-thru voice ordering, and Yum! Brands looks to leverage digital technologies for smaller-footprint, off-premise-focused stores. Plus, PYMNTS research shows which restaurants are winning the mobile order-ahead game and which are falling behind.
New Tracker: More Restaurants Embracing Subscriptions to Lock in Loyalty
Subscription commerce — which was already building before the pandemic — is a certified hit as we rapidly approach 2022. It takes many forms, from streaming entertainment to boxes of retail items, yet food is panning out as a great subscription opportunity for consumers and businesses.
Latest Mobile Order-Ahead Provider Ranking Features First-Ever 4-Way Tie
For those who wonder if mobile food ordering will drop off as the pandemic becomes endemic and fades into the background of things we dislike but must deal with, we say: “You can stop wondering now.” The trend isn’t going anywhere, and the Provider Ranking of Mobile Order-Ahead Apps is proof positive.
Restaurants Move Toward More Automated, Personalized Drive-Thrus  
In the race to create the drive-thru of the future, McDonald’s has pulled ahead. The company announced on Wednesday (Oct. 27) that it is partnering with IBM to assist in developing and implementing automated order-taking (AOT) capabilities. Through the deal, IBM is acquiring the restaurant chain’s McD Tech Labs, which was formed from McDonald’s 2019 acquisition of conversational commerce company Apprente.
Taco Bell Parent to Develop Digitally Integrated Restaurant Formats Across Brands
After months of rapid innovation with Taco Bell store designs, the restaurant’s parent company Yum! Brands is looking to bring a similar approach to its other chains — KFC, Pizza Hut and The Habit Burger Grill. On a call with analysts on Thursday (Oct. 28) discussing the company’s third-quarter results, Chief Financial Officer Chris Turner shared the company’s plans to integrate new technologies into physical stores.
Enjoying Loyalty Success, Starbucks Turns Digital Focus to On-Premise Technologies
Starbucks’ base of active loyalty program members continues to grow, though that growth has slowed in the past several months. On Thursday (Oct. 28), the Seattle-based company, which operates the world’s largest coffeehouse chain both in terms of the number of locations and revenue, announced in an overview of its Q4 2021 results that its loyalty program’s 90-day active member count has grown to 24.8 million, up 28% year over year.

About: It’s almost go time for the holiday shopping season, and nearly 90% of U.S. consumers plan to make at least some of their purchases online — 13% more than did in 2020. The 2021 Holiday Shopping Outlook, PYMNTS surveyed more than 3,600 consumers to learn what is driving online sales this holiday season and the impact of product availability and personalized rewards on merchant preference.
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