- McDonald's revealed in a blog post a new 19,000-square-foot flagship restaurant in Chicago, Illinois, that's been designed with a mind toward modern, environmentally friendly features and a number of tech-focused consumer experiences.
- The restaurant, which opened Aug. 9, includes self-order kiosks, table service, mobile ordering and payment and delivery, as well as an increased focus on hospitality through what the company calls guest experience leaders. It has outdoor seating, a park area and plazas, along with an separate McCafe area with a baked goods display.
- The restaurant is part of McDonald's "Experience of the Future" initiative to focus on technology and convenience in a more modern environment. The fast-food restaurant chain has 5,000 "experience" restaurants in the U.S. and plans to convert most of its locations to them by 2020.
A number of outlets have noted that McDonald's new restaurant design more closely resembles that of an Apple store than a traditional fast-food outlet, which helps to emphasize the chain's growing focus on mobile technology and customer personalization. McDonald's is quickly adopting digital offerings like in-store kiosks and online ordering as means to attract more younger consumers like millennials, who favor convenience but are more likely to prefer healthier, fresher food options.
McDonald's first started accelerating its digital transformation push around this time last year by partnering with the technology consultancy Capgemini and agency Publicis.Sapient. The company then announced earlier this summer that it plans to add self-service kiosks and mobile ordering to 1,000 restaurants every three months over the next two years, as well as other features, like curbside delivery and advanced mobile app offerings.
Other major quick-service chains have been working on similar strategies. Dunkin' Donuts, for example, has been steadily introducing new store concepts that have dedicated mobile drive-thru and pick-up stations, along with digital kiosks and sleeker designs. Chipotle has also breathed some fresh life into its business with mobile and online order-only drive-thrus and partnerships with services like DoorDash.
However, the transition to being more squarely focused on mobile hasn't always been smooth for McDonald's. CEO Steve Easterbrook in May admitted that adoption of McDonald's refurbished mobile app was "pretty low." Employees have also been frustrated with the transition and the extra burden handling both in-store and mobile ordering has put on their workload.
As fast food brands continue to roll out new in-store technologies, they need to make sure the technology is fully functioning and offers a seamless customer experience. More than 80% of surveyed consumers have experienced a technical issue at a store or restaurant, and negative experiences can result in declining brand confidence and less frequent visits for more than one-third of consumers, according a recent Boomtown study.