BOSTON – McDonald’s is testing a “new twist on the fast-food restaurant experience that has nothing to do with what’s on the menu—doing away with interaction between customers and employees,” reports the Boston Globe.
This week the QSR is trying out its “customized digital Big Mac ATM” at a Kenmore Square location that will dispense free Big Macs to patrons between 11 am and 2 pm. To receive the free sandwich, users will need to enter their Twitter handle on the touchscreen, which will generate a tweet from their accounts that reads, “Check out the new Big Mac.”
“It’s really just a fun way to be modern and progressive,” Vince Spadea, a McDonald’s franchisee, told the Globe, adding, “I think we’ll have lines out the door.”
Spadea added that the vending machine is being used primarily as a marketing tool, and not a first step toward automation.
Meanwhile, Timothy Carone, a professor at the University of Notre Dame and author of the “Future Automation Changes to Lives and to Businesses,” told the Globe that the fast-food industry is on the forefront of the automation. “Things like this are going to be in our future, so you have to accept it,” he said. “It’s inevitable.”
Carone continued that automation won’t lessen labor costs because automated systems will still require maintenance. But where automation can excel is helping operators manage food costs and consistency.
“We’re in the exploratory phase,” he told the Globe, adding, “Eventually, businesses will figure out what kind of automation people like and what they don’t like.”