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Burger King parent updating drive-thru at 10,000 locations

Drive-thru customers at Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes are in for a new personalized and streamlined experience.

Restaurant Brands International Inc., which owns and franchises the Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes chains, is modernizing the drive-thru experience at more than 10,000 Burger King and Tim Hortons locations, with Popeyes beginning its own rollout later in 2020. The company is installing more than 40,000 digital screens with predictive selling capabilities, integration with restaurant loyalty programs, and the ability for remote, contactless payment.

The digital drive-thru menu boards are designed with predictive selling technology designed in-house by RBI. This technology allows special promotions to be tailored based on previous orders, regional weather patterns, the time of day and other factors. The solution dynamically learns preferred ordering habits and also displays the latest and trending menu items most-ordered in a store’s location. RBI says it will continue to refine this technology moving forward.

The menu boards have also been designed with the ability to integrate loyalty programs, allowing for customized menu options to be displayed that are based on a customer’s favorite purchases and redemption history. This functionality is currently live and being tested at 30 locations in Canada with the Tim Hortons Tims Rewards loyalty program. All digital drive-thru menu boards in the U.S. and Canada have been designed to accommodate loyalty integration via scanning, Bluetooth or near-field communication.

In addition, the digital drive-thru menu boards have the flexibility to add immediate, remote contactless payment to allow customers to order and pay simultaneously and speed up drive-thru lanes. RBI has partnered with payment solutions provider Verifone to develop a new global remote contactless payment device for a drive-thru lane. The first prototype is currently installed at a Tim Hortons restaurant in Canada, with 15 more locations testing this functionality by January 2021.

New installations are using enclosures that have been designed to withstand specific local weather conditions. The enclosures are also IP56 certified – meaning they are fully waterproof and can sustain continuous water pressure, even from powerful waterjets.  Existing installations will be retrofitted to this level of protection. 

The outdoor-rated, 46-inch digital screens run on Stratacache Media Engines that are clustered together redundantly for high-availability. If any one of the four digital screens in a standard drive-thru loses communication with its primary media player, the secondary media player will take over and ensure that content continues to display correctly.

Stratacache provides proactive 24/7 network monitoring to RBI's thousands of restaurant sites, and has capability to manage any digital screen and to update or modify menu board content across remaining digital screens in the event of a hard screen failure.

"Our customers have sought out our drive-thru lanes for our iconic food and beverages throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – even in the face of mandated dining room closures around the world," said Jose Cil, CEO of RBI.  "We believe strongly that it is time to modernize our drive-thru lanes throughout the US and Canada to provide even better, quicker and contactless service for our customers. This includes presenting menu options on digital screens that are tailored for each customer, as well as integrating our loyalty program at the moment of ordering and providing remote, contactless payment to speed up our drive-thru lanes in the near future.”

As of September, Tim Hortons has installed digital drive-thru menu boards at approximately 800 locations in the U.S. and Canada; Burger King has installed digital drive-thru menu boards at more than 1,500 locations in the U.S.; and Popeyes is starting installation at new locations later this year.  A typical drive-thru lane includes four digital screens, while double drive-thru lanes typically include a total of seven digital screens. RBI is assessing drive-thru locations and, where possible, is installing double drive-thru lanes to increase capacity and efficiency at its restaurants.

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