McDonald’s is acquiring yet another technology company as it seeks to optimize the customer ordering experience across its 38,000+ locations. With the acquisition of Apprente, a voice-based conversational technology provider, the fast food giant will form McD Tech Labs. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
In McDonald’s restaurants, the Apprente technology is expected to allow for faster, simpler and more accurate order-taking at the drive thru, with future potential to incorporate into mobile ordering and kiosks. The quick service restaurant already has been evaluating Apprente’s solutions in voice-activated drive thru lanes at select test restaurants.
Apprente was founded in 2017 in Mountain View, Calif. to create voice-based platforms for complex, multilingual, multi-accent and multi-item conversational ordering.
The Apprente team will be the founding members of McD Tech Labs, with Co-Founder Itamar Arel becoming the division’s VP. McDonald’s said it will expand the team by hiring more engineers, data scientists and other tech experts. This Silicon Valley-based team is integrated into the overall Global Technology division at McDonald’s, and is designed to complement the company’s newly renovated Innovation Center near Chicago.
In April, McDonald’s acquired AI-powered personalization solution provider Dynamic Yield for more than $300 million, with the goal of creating a drive-thru experience that’s customized based on factors such as time of day, weather, restaurant traffic and trending menu items. The decision technology can instantly suggest and display additional items based on a customer’s current order selections. Later that month, McDonald’s invested $3.7 million for a nearly 10% stake in mobile engagement software provider Plexure, which is the vendor for the McDonald’s mobile app.
McDonald’s has deployed the Dynamic Yield technology in more than 8,000 restaurants in the U.S. and plans to integrate the tech in nearly all drive thru’s in the U.S. and Australia by the end of 2019.