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McDonald’s Experiments with Build-Your-Own-Burger Kiosk

McDonald’s Experiments with Build-Your-Own-Burger Kiosk
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Customers at one of the fast-food giant's Sydney restaurants use a large freestanding touchscreen to customize their sandwiches with fresh ingredients

Kristina Denstitt
  • 10 october 2014

McDonald’s has been testing the concept of a customizable menu for more than a year, after initially bringing the new system to restaurants in California and Illinois in late 2013. The test later expanded to three more California restaurants, all of which offer customers the chance to build their own burger by choosing fresh ingredients from an iPad.

One of the chain’s locations in the western Sydney town of Castle Hill is taking the test one step further, by offering patrons a large touchscreen kiosk to place their orders.The menu features “Create Your Taste” burgers with several custom options. Burgers start at AU $8.95 (US $7.80,) with the option of adding fries and a drink for a Create Your Taste Value Meal. Customers can choose between a brioche or crusty bun, go bunless, and add extra patties with multiple slices of cheese. They can then select their own toppings from a list that is far more expansive than what McDonald’s typically offers, including bacon, egg, grilled mushrooms, and tortilla strips. The menu also offers new sauces, such as chipotle mayo and tomato relish. The kiosk completes an order by asking a customer to indicate on a schematic where they will be sitting. An employee brings the meal, served on a wooden tray with metal baskets, to that table.

This strategy is an attempt by McDonald’s to respond to changing technology, particularly the rise of smartphone apps that make ordering from a restaurant a personal, individualized experience. As McDonald’s Australia CEO Andrew Gregory tells news.com.au, “McDonald’s is innovating and changing again to meet the needs of our customers.”

While McDonald’s popularized the speedy service and unchanging, mass-produced menus that have become staples of the fast food business, their in-store sales figures are declining as build-your-own restaurants Chipotle and Potbelly report sales increases. Modern consumers seem to appreciate the ease of fast food less as individually tailored options become available. Whether McDonald’s will be a viable alternative for these consumers, we’ll have to wait and see as the new high-tech menu system is implemented throughout Australia over the next 12 months.

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