Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) were uniquely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as consumer needs shifted to accommodate social distancing and other restrictions. To remain competitive, QSRs need to improve operations to better meet the current and future demands of customers and elevate the consumer experience as drive-thru traffic increases, employees become harder to attract and retain, supply chains continue to be disrupted, and more.
Computer Vision (CV) has been implemented in many QSRs, yet layering AI on top of this is a relatively new practice.
Some key considerations facing QSRs today, that can be solved with CV & AI, are:
- Drive-thru operational efficiencies
- Wait time
- Lack of staff to support demand
- Incorrect orders decrease customer satisfaction and potentially lead to lower visit frequency
How Computer Vision with AI solves these problems:
- Traffic analysis at stores: CV systems are beneficial in tracking the movement of customers throughout a restaurant, noting top trends and peak hours. Using this information, restaurants can make decisions that ensure that they have enough resources to manage operations during busy hours.
- Reducing wait times: Wait times for drive-thru customers increased by around 30 seconds between 2019 and 2020 and by another 26 seconds between 2020 and 2021. With CV systems in place, restaurants can manage large order volumes with real-time visual data and analytics and set customer expectations accordingly
- Maintaining the dining area: CV systems help manage restaurant space. These can detect areas where used objects such as cutlery or food boxes are piling up and alert the cleaning team to remove those to free up space for new visitors
- Inventory management: CV systems are useful for tracking inventory and can ensure that ingredients are always available
- Food quality: CV systems can be used to maintain food quality and identify old/stale items or unrequired objects in food. They can help maintain food consistency by ensuring that food is prepared the same way every time, helping improve brand image
Customer satisfaction and loyalty are tied to QSR performance in Quality, Speed of Service, and Accuracy of orders. The above areas help to improve operations which increases each of these performance factors.