With drive-thru a critical battleground for McDonald’s, the fast food giant has agreed to buy a two-year-old conversational voice tech startup. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Your drive-through experience at McDonald’s may be about to get more pleasant.
The fast-food giant said Tuesday that it had agreed to buy Apprente, a two-year-old Silicon Valley startup whose platform for “complex, multilingual, multi-accent and multi-item conversational ordering” could make your drive-through ordering at McDonald’s “faster, simpler and more accurate.”
McDonald’s said it made the deal for Apprente, founded in 2017 in Mountain View, California, after “extensive exploration with several parties,” including trying Apprente’s technology in its test restaurants. The Chicago-based restaurant giant said Apprente’s technology may eventually also be integrated with its mobile ordering and kiosks.
McDonald’s this year also bought Dynamic Yield, a startup whose technology allows it to recommend personalized offerings to drive-through customers based on the time of day, weather and items already in their orders. McDonald’s said in July that it was increasing the number of U.S. drive-through restaurants using Dynamic Yield’s technology to more than 8,000, from about 700. By the end of the year, almost 100% of its drive-through locations in the U.S. and Australia will feature that technology.
(McDonald’s third tech investment of the year involved a mobile app vendor to help with its app development.)
Why the big focus on drive-through? Even though McDonald’s in July reported four full years of quarterly comparable sales growth and its U.S. sales performance has outpaced the domestic industry average, the company