McDonald's acquires Dynamic Yield for AI drive-thru menus

McDonald's tested Dynamic Yield's technology in the US in 2018 and will more widely introduce it this year for drive-thru menus once the deal closes

This is the fast food chain's largest acquisition in 20 years. He said McDonald's is expanding the role that technology will play in the company's future "and the speed with which we'll be able to implement our vision of creating more personalized experiences for our customers". For example, the technology will be used in drive-thru displays and mobile app interfaces to give customers a custom dining experience via item add-on suggestions.

With the acquisition, it will enable McDonald's to be one of the first companies to integrate decision technology into the customer point-of-sale at the company's brick and mortar locations. The company has already tested the technology in several USA restaurants.

The company plans to roll out the technology to its USA drive-thrus first and then take it internationally.

McDonald's even plans to include the AI in the self-order kiosks and the mobile app. Dynamic Yield's technology will allow McDonald's digital drive-thru menus to change based on different factors, such as the weather and current restaurant traffic.

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McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook sold the acquisition as a means to be similar to the web experiences offered by Amazon, Best Buy or Walmart. Considering drive-thrus can make up to 70% of sales, any advantage could help improve sales overall and provide a unique experience that isn't yet replicated by competitors. The firm has offices in Germany, Singapore, New York, Russia, France and the United Kingdom, according to data compiled by Start-Up Nation Central, which tracks the industry. With this acquisition of Dynamic Yield, based in NY and Tel Aviv, McDonald's builds on its significant technology investments for growth.

Under the terms of the deal, Dynamic Yield will remain a standalone business with McDonald's as sole owner. Dynamic Yield will also continue to serve their current and future clients, the statement said.

Liad Agmon, co-founder and CEO of Dynamic Yield, said that the deal "is a major milestone in our company's history, representing a unique opportunity for us to develop at a higher scale of innovation and break the boundaries of what originally thought possible". McDonald's told investors in January that it plans to spend roughly $2.3 billion in total capital in 2019; the deal represents 13 percent of that total capital spend.

With access to this technology, McDonald's will be in a position to vary its electronic menu boards in response to variables such as the climate, time of day and region, flogging more McFlurries on warm days and Egg McMuffins in the mornings.

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