Wendy’s serves up tech innovation

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Wendy's Roku ads
Wendy’s offers shoppable TV ads (Photo: Business Wire).

The Wendy’s Company is starting to distinguish itself as a technology pioneer.

Fast food is not always known as a hotbed of next-generation tech activity, but Wendy’s has been charging ahead with innovative solution rollouts in different areas of the enterprise. Following is a brief look at the hamburger chain’s initiatives in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital advertising.

Underground robots

Wendy’s is testing an automated system that may revolutionize customer pickup of online orders. The quick-serve restaurant chain will pilot an underground autonomous robot system from hyperlogistics company Pipedream that will deliver digital food orders from the restaurant kitchen to designated parking spots in seconds. 

The technology uses autonomous robots to transport orders underground and deliver at a car-side instant pickup portal. Wendy's said it will be the first quick service restaurant to pilot the cutting-edge technology, 

Wendy's is planning to integrate Pipedream's underground delivery system into an existing restaurant later this year, with the goals of streamlining order fulfillment, freeing store associates to perform other tasks, and enabling fast order pickup without customers having to leave their cars.

AI-based drive-thru

Wendy’s is proceeding with plans to leverage AI and hybrid cloud tools at the drive-thru window. The retailer is expanding an existing partnership with Google to pilot a solution, called “Wendy’s FreshAI,” which based on Google Cloud's generative AI and large language models (LLMs) technology.

The company will leverage Google Cloud solutions including the Looker business intelligence and analytics tool, as well as the Anthos modernization platform, to modernize operations. In addition, Wendy’s plans to upgrade its in-store experience for customers and employees using the Google BigQuery and Looker solutions to improve business analytics and reporting.

And with Google Cloud Anthos, an open-source-based platform, Wendy's seeks to enable store applications and real-time AI/ML to run anywhere – including on-premise or in the cloud.

In June 2023, Wendy's plans to launch its first pilot of Google Cloud AItechnology in a Columbus, Ohio-area, company-operated restaurant. The pilot will utilize Google Cloud generative AI solutions, such as Vertex AI, to automatically conduct conversations with customers, understand made-to-order requests and generate responses to frequently asked questions. 

Shoppable ads

Wendy’s is placing click-to-order offers within its ads on the Roku streaming TV platform. The fast food hamburger chain is the first retailer to participate in a recently launched joint shoppbale ad offering from Roku and DoorDash. DoorDash will be the exclusive marketplace ad solution partner for its partner U.S. restaurants and grocers that buy interactive shoppable ads on Roku.

This enables Wendy’s to place unique click-to-order offers within its Roku ads, with the ability to attribute, target, and measure these TV streaming ads. Consumers can interact with Wendy’s TV ad offers, receive the promotion through SMS/email, and then be led to the Wendy’s storefront directly in the DoorDash app to redeem the promotions.

Roku subscribers who see the Wendy’s ad will have exclusive access to $5 off with any Wendy’s purchase of $15 or more.

 

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