Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 15th 2017 Contents A24 life
guardian.co.tt Saturday, July 15, 2017
McDonald's makes supersized effort to turn fading popularity
The company that helped de-
fine fast food is making super-
sized efforts to reverse its fading
popularity and catch up to a land-
scape that has evolved around it.
That includes expanding deliv-
ery, digital ordering kiosks in
restaurants, and rolling out an
app that saves precious seconds.
Much of the work is on display in
an unmarked warehouse near the
company's headquarters in subur-
ban Chicago, where a blow-up of a
mobile phone screen shows the app
launching nationally later this year.
McDonald's estimates it would take
10 seconds for a customer to tell an
employee their order number from
the app, down from the 17-second
average of ordering at the drive-thru,
a difference that could help ease pi-
leups. Elsewhere at the Innovation
Center, the digital ordering kiosk
shows how customers can skip lines
at the register.
"Five, 10 years ago, we were the
dominant player in convenience, as
convenience was defined in those
days," CEO Steve Easterbrook said
last month. "But convenience con-
tinually gets redefined, and we hav-
The push come as McDonald's
Corp's stock has hit all-time highs
as investors cheer a turnaround plan
that has included slashed costs and
expansion overseas. Yet the aster-
isk on the headlines is the chain's
declining stature in its flagship US
market, where it is fighting intensi-
fying competition, fickle tastes and
a persistent junk food image.
In an increasingly crowded field
of places to eat, the number of Mc-
Donald's locations in the US is set to
shrink for the third year in a row. At
established locations, the frequency
of customer visits has declined for
four straight years --- even after the
launch of a popular "All-Day Break-
The chain that popularised inno-
vations like drive-thrus in the 1970s
acknowledges it has been slow to
adapt, and is scrambling to better
fit into American lifestyles.
RUNNING TO KEEP UP
Lots of once-dominant restaurant
chains are feeling the pressure of
people having more eating options.
An estimated 613,000 places were
selling either food or drink in the US
last year, up 17 per cent from a dec-
ade earlier, according to government
figures. Supermarkets and conven-
ience stores are offering more pre-
pared foods, and meal-kit delivery
companies have been expanding.
"Better burger" places like Shake
Shack and Habit Burger Grill don't
come close to McDonald's roughly
14,000 US locations, but they're
growing. And even if Starbucks and
Dunkin Donuts don't serve burgers
and fries, they are among those pro-
moting food more aggressively.
"They're still taking customers
from the same market pool," said
Nick Karavites, a McDonald's fran-
chisee with 22 locations in the Chi-
cago area and chairman of a regional
Richard Adams, a former Mc-
Donald's franchisee who is now a
consultant to those businesses, has
questioned whether the chain can
return to the height of its popularity
in such a fragmented marketplace.
He also noted that many of the new
offerings the company is pursuing,
such as delivery, are already available
at other places.
"They're following the market-
place," he said. Still, McDonald's
needs to make changes to keep
customer visits from falling further.
"TURNING A VERY LARGE SHIP"
One main focus is the drive-thru,
where McDonald's gets roughly 70
per cent of its business.
Customers who place orders on the
mobile app, for instance, could also
pull into a designated parking spot
where an employee would bring out
That would theoretically ease
backups at the drive-thru, which
in turn might prevent potential
customers from driving past without
stopping during peak hours.
Then there's the partnership with
UberEats to offer delivery.
McDonald's gives an undisclosed
percentage of the sale to UberEats,
in addition to a fee of about US$5
that customers pay. So a risk is that
delivery could draw from in-store
sales, eating into profitability.
•Continues on Page A25
Silvia Ruiz prepares a specialty sandwich at a McDonald's restaurant in Chicago. AP PHOTO
Links Archive July 14th 2017 July 16th 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page