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Future Drive-Thrus Will Need to Get Personal 

Image provided by Panasonic USA from the Panasonic Solutions for Business Blog

Americans make 12.4 billion trips to the drive-thru every year, spending about three minutes on each visit. The drive-thru process is always the same – the customer arrives, reviews the menu, places their order, pays for it, receives their order, and drives away. Each step is a communication between the customer and the employees at the restaurant. Both have an interest in the process being smooth and successful, and advanced technologies can help – by making a digital impact in key areas of their communication to increase both speed and efficiency. This increased productivity is driven by how well the restaurant really knows its customer, and thus enable them to enjoy a more personalized experience. This article from Panasonic USA will discuss how restaurants could use new technologies to improve the drive-thru experience both for customers and for operators.

Know Your Customer

The drive-thru process can start before the customer even gets to the restaurant.  Automotive technology can allow drivers to opt in so that their vehicles to be recognized when they enter a specified area using geotracking, and have that link to an existing customer profile. Restaurants can build the customer profile by reviewing the individual’s previous orders and then start an algorithm for his or her menu production requirements. Combining that with dual authentication, a restaurant could then confirm the customer’s identity and reduce time in the drive-thru line. For example, if customer A was driving customer B’s car, customer A’s phone would offer the secondary authentication to confirm or deny the geotracking data.

This data can be used to generate menu analytics. With that analysis output, the restaurant can accurately predict what customers will order and send a signal to the kitchen to start preparing their meal. Speeding up the line and the kitchen results in increased sales overall. It’s a win for both the customer and the restaurant.

Connecting to the Kitchen

Providing various formats to place orders can also speed up the order process. Restaurants can allow customers to order over enhanced auto infotainment systems or on a smartphone or kiosk. These different ordering channels can even allow the customer to place an order before entering the restaurant, or give people the option to better customize their order. Dual authentication is helpful with order entry as well, as restaurants can give customers the option to replicate a previous order. As seen with restaurant smartphone apps, the ability to replicate a previous order saves the cashier the time it takes to manually key in a new order for the same items.

Multiple Payment Options

Customer payments that are linked to an account significantly speed up the payment process, allowing customers to simply click a button to make an automatic payment. Flexibility in payment options and integrating technology like mobile apps and touch-screen kiosks are just some ways for restaurants to offer personalized payments that best suit the customer’s needs. The quicker the customer pays for their order and drives away with their food, the happier that customer will be.  

Accurate Orders Every Time

Technology is a critical component to improving order accuracy, and can be helped dramatically with self-checkout solutions. For example, using a weight-scale system, food orders can be assessed by measuring weight against load cells. Restaurants attach weight to each item then compare weights, with adjustments for tolerances. This method streamlines order accuracy by triggering an alert when the weight doesn’t match and an item might be missing. Accurate orders boost customer satisfaction and cultivate repeat customers.

Customized for Customers

Technology providers help restaurants connect with customers in a variety of ways: using IoT-connected solutions, such as automotive-related infotainment technologies systems, digital content distribution and management, automated processes for food service retail, and essential back office quick service software. In the future, drive-thrus must enhance one-to-one communication between customers and the restaurant processes, for solutions to retain current customers and reach out and connect with new ones. Recognizing how technology can improve and personalize the experience is the first step to developing targeted solutions for every step of the drive-thru experience. The future of drive-thrus depends upon keeping customers happy and fulfillment processes moving, inside and outside of the restaurants.

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