Dunkin' Donuts opened a next-generation store in Southern California that features a pickup counter for mobile orders, tabletop outlets to power devices and digital menu boards for the drive-thru, Nation's Restaurant News reported. The Corona, CA, location is among 50 new restaurants the coffee and bakery chain plans to open in 2018 after introducing the first prototype in Quincy, MA, this year
The first two test locations only have the "Dunkin'" marquee branding, intended to de-emphasize doughnuts and to compete more directly with McDonald's and main rival Starbucks by highlighting its beverage selection. The new 2,000-square-foot store has an eight-tap beverage system for its most popular drinks, and a nitrogen-infused cold brew coffee.
The mobile pickup service lets customers who order and pay on its mobile app to skip the line and pick up their food and beverages at a counter dedicated to takeout orders. The two next-gen stores this year will add wall-mounted kiosks with self-serve, touchscreen ordering systems, NRN said.
Dunkin' Donuts, which has 8,500 restaurants in 41 states, is making good on its previously announced plan to open wave of stores that prioritize integrations with the latest mobile technologies as part of a broader effort to remain competitive with other quick-service restaurants. The brand's DD Perks app not only has a loyalty rewards program to urge repeat visits to stores, but also lets people order and pay via a mobile device. Last week, the chain updated its app to let people place orders on iPhones or Android smartphones using the voice-enabled Google Assistant.
The chain's emphasis on beverages like coffee over pastries has helped drive higher revenue, with the company reporting an 0.8% gain in same-store sales for Q4 2017, matching estimates, per a separate report in NRN. By integrating more mobile technology and digital services like kiosks into its daily functions, Dunkin' expects a transformation in store operations. The company last month said locations with a drive-thru have 40% higher sales volume than restaurants without the service. The chain estimated that employees spend 30% of their time taking orders, when they could use that time to enhance customers' experiences and provide higher-quality service. Mobile ordering is expected to improve order accuracy and the speed of service while freeing up employees to focus on other tasks.
Mobile technology is changing the fast-food and quick-service industries as they try to boost appeal among tech-savvy millennials. That doesn't mean the transition has always been smooth, as some workers at McDonald's have discovered, according to Bloomberg. Employees described the frustration of being required to handle more tasks without adequate staffing or pay raises. While mobile technology has tremendous promise, chains need to better prepare their employees for the next generation of service.