These days it’s very common when more and more numbers of consumers are happy to ask Alexa, Siri or the Google Assistant to play a song, find a recipe or dim the lights in their smart homes. But only a narrow subset of voice assistant enthusiasts would comfortably instruct these tools to make purchases for them – at least before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
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Experimenting with voice-bots
Several restaurants are acknowledging the role that voice technology will play in the coming years and are working to make it more seamless for customers. Especially QSR brands like Domino’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and Wingstop to name a few. Many of these players have enabled their customers to use in-app voice-activated ordering, while others have integrated with major virtual assistants — such as Cortana, Alexa or Google Assistant — to accomplish that task.
It all began in 2014 when Domino’s launched voice ordering via its mobile app and, in 2016, the pizza company added “Dom the Pizza Bot,” enabling orders directly through Facebook messenger. This trend was soon picked up by brands like Wingstop and Chipotle experimenting with a similar kind of technology by 2016-2017 and by now almost all top QSR brands are betting big on voice based orders.
“At Pizza Hut we are always keen to experiment with innovative marketing formats that resonate with our millennial-minded audience. When Gaana suggested doing Voice Activated Ads, where users ask for the offer themselves, it seemed like a perfect fit and I am thrilled that our voice-activated campaign has been a hit with the target audience,” shared Neha, Chief Marketing Officer, Pizza Hut India.
As per a report by Edelweiss Securities, India’s QSR market is expected to clock a compound annual growth rate of 23% between now to fiscal year 2025. The food services market was estimated at ₹4,236 billion in FY20, Edelweiss said in its research note citing data from Technopak.
“We believe it is the same as how people slowly adopted digital technology for payments - once people try it out, they usually don’t go back to the old ways. Similarly, once people try out digital dining, they don’t go back to the conventional ways for the simple reason that digital dining is more convenient, safer, quicker, and better managed,” pointed Anil Kumar, CTO, ToneTag by adding that people get their menus and waiter services just like before but now it's all digital and fits in their palms. They don’t have to wave frantically to catch the waiter’s attention; instead, they can place their order through the digital waiter, who is always present at their table.
Driven by convenience
Also, if we look at global data, according to Voicebot.ai, 64% of adults are interested in using voice AI to order food, and more than one-quarter of all US consumers who own voice-activated devices have used them to place food orders. Being quicker and convenient and most importantly - allows people to dine with minimal contact.
Recently, QSR chain McDonald’s started trials to work with automated voice-ordering technology at drive-thrus across its ten restaurants in Chicago, US.
“The new technology was able to take orders correctly 85% of the time and also has the potential to take 80% of the customer orders,” said Chris Kempczinski, CEO, McDonald’s while speaking at a conference.
He was also of the opinion that there were still some orders that required human involvement to gather information from customers. McDonald’s is trying to adopt automated ordering system before the pandemic, ever since it acquired Apprente in 2019 that is engaged in the development of AI-powered voice platforms.
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Similarly, ToneTag that has partnered with brands like KFC, Domino’s and Pizza Hut to name a few mentioned, “It is a software-only stack that can be easily integrated with any restaurant’s existing infrastructure with no major investment. The pricing depends on the scale of operation of the restaurants. The beauty is any big or small restaurants can enable this tech, the size does not matter.”
And, as we see technology is supposed to level the field for everyone and brands are batting for this inclusion through integrated solutions, digital dining will be the new norm at restaurants across the country.