McDonald’s creates digital customer engagement team as part of its tech push

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McDonald’s is creating a team focused on digital customer engagement as the restaurant industry continues to look to technology as a key way to boost sales.

The new team is part of the fast-food giant’s strategy to use technology to reach customers and drive sales growth. McDonald’s has been installing digital self-order kiosks in its restaurants, expanding food delivery and making tech-focused investments as part of that push. Last year, McDonald’s formed McD Tech Labs, a Silicon Valley-based group that includes tech experts like engineers and data scientists.

McDonald’s digital customer engagement team’s responsibilities will include digital ordering, personalization, payments, loyalty and delivery, according to messages obtained by CNBC. The team will meet with a new advisory council comprised of top executives every quarter to review its progress.

“Digital is transforming global retail, and it will transform McDonald’s,” CEO Chris Kempczinski said in a message obtained by CNBC. “At the same time, I’ve heard your feedback that we still have more work to do to fulfill our digital potential.”

Across the restaurant industry, digital orders have grown by 23% over the last four years to reach $26.8 billion in sales, according to The NPD Group.

Lucy Brady, formerly senior vice president of corporate strategy and business development, will lead the new team in the newly created role of chief digital customer engagement officer. Before joining McDonald’s in 2016, Brady worked at the Boston Consulting Group for 19 years.

McDonald’s marketing technology and global delivery teams will be joining the digital customer engagement team and reporting to Brady.

In her prior role, Brady helped expand McDonald’s food delivery to a business worth more than $4 billion in three years. Her team also led last year’s acquisition of Dynamic Yield, which uses artificial intelligence to personalize the drive-thru experience. At the end of its third quarter, the technology was deployed across 9,500 U.S. drive-thrus, and on target for a full national roll-out by the end of the year. Kempczinski said that the Dynamic Yield investment is “tangibly driving check growth.”

McDonald’s is not the only restaurant chain focusing on digital growth. Chipotle Mexican Grill, for example, announced in December that it testing restaurant designs that can better accommodate its exploding digital sales. In its third quarter, digital sales accounted for nearly a fifth of Chipotle’s total revenue.

McDonald’s stock, which has a market value of $156 billion, is up 12% in the last year. Shares of Chipotle, valued at $23.6 billion, have risen 70% in the same time period.

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