Monday, April 25, 2011

McDonald's quietly adopts handhelds

The proliferation of iPad-based menus and wine lists is generating buzz, but far more interesting is the quiet adoption of hand-held ordering devices by several quick-service giants.

McDonald’s revealed to investors last week that one advantage of its new POS system is adaptability to handhelds, “which we're beginning to implement more and more [in] the restaurants,” commented president Don Thompson. He also noted that the new POS system is compatible with dual drive-thrus.

mcDonald's is updating its sales technology in large part because the next generation requires less user input. Franchisees say an order can be input with fewer keystrokes and screens, speeding up service during crunch periods.

The operators have groused a little about the cost, which they have to absorb after investing in equipment to produce coffees, frappes and other high-ticket beverages.

Meanwhile, I can attest firsthand that Chipowithin using handhelds at some stores, including the one near Restaurant Business' headquartersb in the Wall Street area of New York. A staffer was using one recently to take orders from the queue of 35 or so people. You placed your order and payed. Then, when you got to the serving area, less info had to be provided, and the line did move faster.

The revelation about McDonald's use of handhelds came during a conference call on Friday with financial analysts. During the call executives also offered these news nuggets:

--The January offer of a 20-piece serving size of Chicken McNuggets led to a double-digit increase in sales of the product.

--McDonald's sales of hot coffee rose 17% year-over-year during the just-concluded winter.

--A frozen strawberry lemonade will be introduced in May, a part of the chain's efforts to match new drinks with the season. Thompson noted that a new smoothie flavor is also in the works.

No comments: