Popeyes adopts AI technology for its drive-thrus

By Restaurant

- Last updated on GMT

Popeyes adopts AI technology for its drive-thrus

Related tags Popeyes US chain QSR Fried chicken Technology drive-thru AI Omnichannel

Popeyes says it is the first quick service restaurant in the UK to use AI for drive-thru ordering following a successful pilot.

The fried chicken brand has officially launched its first AI powered drive-thru after success at trials as its Northampton restaurant, with the trial now being extended to two further drive-thru locations in Cardiff and Rotherham this month.

Following this, the company plans to expand the technology to all its current Popeyes UK drive-thru sites by July.

Dubbed ‘Al’, after Popeyes’ founder Al Copeland, the American Voice AI solution has been developed to handle orders, including accents the length and breadth of the UK. Al greets the guests at the drive-thru screens and takes their order in a conversational way while a digital display provides guests with a visual confirmation that their order has been understood properly. The order is then prepared and later delivered through the window.

The technology can answer questions about what ingredients are included in a given item, and answer queries such as, "what sauces are available?”. Customers can also change their minds during the conversation and it will keep up. During the trial, it learned to recommend meal combinations based on a customer’s preference and explain what’s in every product and will be able to pick up and adapt to modifications or difficult questions as more orders are processed.

Popeyes has been testing the technology at its Northampton drive-thru since the beginning of March this year and says it has delivered consistently successful results across its trial period. Following the pilot, it reported 97% order accuracy, zero customer complaints and higher scoring in its mystery diner records, which it says is due to Al’s proficiency in responding to questions about the menu, recommendations and bestsellers. 

"We believe this technology has the power to revolutionise the drive-thru experience for the better, and we’re particularly proud to be the first quick-service restaurant in the UK to offer a Voice AI solution in this way," says David Carey, chief technology officer at Popeyes.

“We’ve worked closely with our Northampton restaurant to integrate the technology with ease, and we’re already starting to see the benefits that the drive-thru AI is having on our Popeyes team members there. The team have embraced the technology and are excited by the new freedom of not needing to stand at the order window.

"We’re also currently looking at other ways AI can help the Popeyes® team in the future, such as order forecasting.”

The AI drive-thru roll-out comes after Popeyes UK announced plans to double its estate in 2024, opening more than 30 new locations by the end of year.

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