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U.S. Diners to Get Taste of McDonald's 'Experience of the Future'

OAK BROOK, Ill. — Following rollouts in parts of Europe, Australia and Canada, McDonald's Corp. plans to bring its next-generation restaurant design to the United States. Its "Experience of the Future" initiative primarily involves installing Samsung Galaxy tablets in restaurants, reported The Motley Fool.

The tablets are mounted tableside and in kiosks. In the United Kingdom, they allow customers to order custom "gourmet" burgers, while in Sweden they can be used to turn a Happy Meal box into a set of virtual reality goggles, according to the report.

Details on the stateside version of the next-generation restaurant have not been released and could differ from existing locations, as the program remains in a pilot phase. But the rollout will be "a very exciting opportunity across the next few years in the U.S.," McDonald's CEO Stephen Easterbrook said during the company's second-quarter earnings call.

He also noted that although McDonald's is keeping short-term needs in mind, "we don't want to lose the strategic direction that we believe is right for long term."

More than half of McDonald's restaurants in Canada have been converted to the "Experience of the Future," while 40 percent of U.K. restaurants and nearly 25 percent of restaurants in France have done the same. Additionally, approximately 80 percent of French McDonald's have added table service.

"Technology has an important role to play in all walks of life, including our customers' eating-out experience, so the changes we're making as part of the 'Experience of the Future' program bring us closer to the way people live their lives today," said Doug Baker, head of IT for McDonald's UK. "We pride ourselves on listening to customers and providing an outstanding experience; innovations such as tablets help provide this experience and have been extremely popular with customers."

In the U.S., McDonald's has tested a variety of technologies designed to increase speed of service and improve order accuracy.

"The real devil [is] in the detail, down to the font size on the order receipts to make sure our teams who are collecting the orders can gather the right items," Easterbrook said. "But also, there's a lot of work we're doing in the future where we believe we can also enhance service, speed and accuracy and get technology to do some of that heavy lifting for us."

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