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McDonald's turns to technology for a boost, trying its hand at automated convenience stores, DVD machines, chat orders, WiFi, and online advertising.

Opportunities

Yet another load of interesting new business ideas that are not only based on adapting to new times, but on exploiting new opportunities as well. If you’re with Burger King or one of the other many fast food chains, you may want to start playing the corporate catch-up game. And if you work for an IT company, you may want to email these chains to offer them some help. Or maybe try an old fashioned call first ๐Ÿ˜‰

McDonald’s turns to technology for a boost, trying its hand at automated convenience stores; DVD machines; chat orders; WiFi; and online advertising

Hit by its first ever quarterly loss, price wars, food scares, and other tribulations, McDonald’s is doing everything it can to get back into the game. Will technology come to the rescue? The fast food giant has embraced the online world, judging from the following new services and business ideas: In the Washington, D.C. area, McDonald’s seems interested in following in Yatoo Partoo and Shop2000’s footsteps (see our March 2003 article), testing fully automated, stand-alone convenience stores under the name ‘Red Box’. The refrigerated units are about the size of a minivan and sell food, drinks, laundry detergent and other products. By installing DVD-rental machines outside some restaurants, another robotic vending initiative, McDonald’s has put a fast-food twist on dinner and a movie. Yet another way of getting more ROI from all that real-estate! The machines, called TikTok DVD Shops, charge customers 99 cents to USD 1.50 per day. All of the 14 suburban TikTok DVD Shops are in McDonald’s parking lots, in an attempt to encourage customers to forgo making it a Blockbuster night and instead stop by for McDinner and a DVD. To cut queues and introduce a bit more service, two McDonald’s restaurants in Alphaville, Brazil, offer the ‘chat order’, allowing video-conferencing style ordering between seated customers and counter personnel (including table mounted terminals equipped with cameras). Burgers and Happy Meals are brought to the table. The restaurants also offer a quick printing service, with customers being able to choose from news clips and coloring books for kids, which they preview on an employee’s palm computer. And not to be outdone by WiFi-enthusiasts Starbucks and Borders, McDonald’s restaurants are going wireless in New York. Not just to let customers surf the web while downing a shake, but to make employees more mobile and connected as well. In their own words: “This technology enables us to share information immediately with hundreds of mobile employees who are dedicated to serving our customers and our restaurants.” Last but not least, McDonald’s is discovering online advertising. (Surprise! Everbody is online!!) Not only can gamers visit the virtual Yellow Arches in SimsOnline, they can actually become McDonald’s franchisees and learn the tricks of the trade. More on this in our March 2003 article on in-game advertising. (Sources: Seattle Times; Washington Post.)

Opportunities

Yet another load of interesting new business ideas that are not only based on adapting to new times, but on exploiting new opportunities as well. If you’re with Burger King or one of the other many fast food chains, you may want to start playing the corporate catch-up game. And if you work for an IT company, you may want to email these chains to offer them some help. Or maybe try an old fashioned call first ๐Ÿ˜‰

Website: www.mcdonalds.com/

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