Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes Unveil Plans to Modernize the Drive-Thru Experience at 10,000-Plus Restaurants

(Shown here: digital drive-thru menu boards at double drive-thru location at Burger King (Courtesy of CNW Group/Restaurant Brands International Inc.))
By RTN Staff - 10.27.2020

Restaurant Brands International, with more than 27,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries and U.S. territories, is modernizing the drive-thru experience at more than 10,000 Burger King and Tim Hortons locations, with Popeyes beginning its own rollout later this year. More than 40,000 digital screens are being installed with “predictive selling” technology, integration with restaurant loyalty programs and the ability for remote, contactless payment.

The technology upgrades reflect the strategic importance and value of the drive-thru experience to RBI’s restaurant brands, especially in the time of coronavirus. The announcement came just as a growing number of cities are once again suspending indoor dining.

“Our guests have sought out our drive-thru lanes for our iconic food and beverages throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – even in the face of mandated dining room closures around the world,” said Jose Cil, CEO of RBI. “We believe strongly that it is time to modernize our drive-thru lanes throughout the US and Canada to provide even better, quicker and contactless service for our guests.  This includes presenting menu options on digital screens that are tailored for each guest, as well as integrating our loyalty program at the moment of ordering and providing remote, contactless payment to speed up our drive-thru lanes in the near future.”

“We have been on an exciting digital journey to become a leader in our industry,” said Josh Kobza, RBI’s Chief Operating Officer.  “We have attracted exceptional digital and technology talent to join our global team and our digital drive-thru menu board initiative is just one in a series of strategic projects that we are rolling out over the next year to strengthen our business model and improve the level of service we provide to our guests,” concluded Kobza.

Predictive Selling: The digital drive-thru menu boards are designed with “predictive selling” technology designed by RBI’s in-house Guest Intelligence team, allowing for special promotions to be tailored based on previous orders, regional weather patterns, the time of day and many other factors.  This home-grown technology can dynamically learn preferred ordering habits and also show the latest and trending menu items most-ordered in your location. According to the company, the RBI Guest Intelligence team will continue to refine its technology to further enhance the guest ordering experience.

Integrated Loyalty Programs: The menu boards have been designed with the ability to integrate loyalty programs, allowing for customized menu options to be displayed that are based on guest purchase and redemption history.  This functionality is currently live and being tested at 30 locations in Canada with the Tims Rewards loyalty program. All digital drive-thru menu boards in the US and Canada have been designed to accommodate loyalty integration via scanning, Bluetooth or near-field communication.

Remote, Contactless Payment: The digital drive-thru menu boards also have the flexibility to add immediate, remote contactless payment to allow guests to order and pay simultaneously and speed up drive-thru lanes.

Related: Burger King Unveils Its “Restaurant of Tomorrow” Building Design with New Technology Features

Loyalty Scanning & Contactless Payment Reader (CNW Group/Restaurant Brands International Inc.)

RBI has partnered with renowned payment solutions provider, Verifone, to develop a new global remote contactless payment device for a drive-thru lane. The first prototype is currently installed at a Tim Hortons restaurant in Canada, with 15 more locations to test this functionality by January 2021.​​

Weather-Proof Installations:  New installations are using enclosures that have been designed to withstand the heat of the southern United States, the cold of Canada’s north and the corrosive, salty air from cities along North America’s oceans. The enclosures are also IP56 certified – meaning they are fully waterproof and can sustain continuous water pressure, even from powerful waterjets. Existing installations will be retrofitted to this level of protection to ensure the long-term integrity of this important guest touch point.

Technology:  The 40,000+ outdoor-rated 46″ screens are powered by the latest STRATACACHE Media Engines that are clustered together, redundantly, for high-availability – meaning that if any one of the four digital screens in a standard drive-thru loses communication with its primary media player, the secondary media player will take over and ensure that content continues to be displayed correctly. STRATACACHE is a global leader in digital marketing technology and provides

Digital Drive-Thru Menu Boards with Loyalty Scanning & Contactless Payment Reader at Tim Hortons (CNW Group/Restaurant Brands International Inc.)

proactive 24/7 network monitoring to RBI’s thousands of restaurant sites from its National Operation Centers in Ohio and Montreal.  STRATACACHE has the capability to manage any digital screen and to update or modify menu board content across remaining digital screens in the event of a hard screen failure.

As of September, Tim Hortons has installed digital drive-thru menu boards at approximately 800 locations in the U.S. and Canada; Burger King has installed digital drive-thru menu boards at more than 1,500 locations in the U.S.; and Popeyes is starting installation at new locations later this year. A typical drive-thru lane includes 4 digital screens, while double drive-thru lanes typically include a total of 7 digital screens. RBI is assessing drive-thru locations and, where possible, is installing double drive-thru lanes to increase capacity and efficiency.