Consumer behavior has changed during the pandemic. Many of these changes are permanent and the market continues to evolve. Companies with physical stores for customers must blend digital and physical design to create a great customer experience. Nearly all organizations are embracing digital transformation to meet changing marketing demands. Today, The Wendy’s Company (Wendy’s) is an example of the market her leader’s focus on digital acceleration. In 1969, Dave his Thomas opened the first Wendy’s restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. Today, Quick Service his chain and its franchisees employ hundreds of thousands of people in nearly 7,000 restaurants around the world.
Wendy’s was primarily a dining room and drive-thru business until 2019. The COVID lockdown has forced Wendy’s and many other businesses to adopt delivery services. The real question is what’s next for the industry.
In August 2022, Wendy’s launched Global Next Gen, a new global restaurant design standard to enhance customer, crew and digital experiences. Wendy’s new restaurant plans feature a sleek, modern design with optimized layouts and next-generation technology for greater convenience, speed and accuracy. The Global Next Generation design offers new features such as mobile order parking, in-restaurant pickup shelves and a new dedicated delivery pickup window. In response to consumer digital demand, the new restaurant is designed to handle Wendy’s digital capacity, which is 400 times his current volume.
Abigail Pringle, Wendy’s US President, said in a blog post about the design: “This is in the franchisee’s interest and in the environment’s interest. The new design demonstrates labor force optimization, which again translates into valuable savings.” It is scheduled to open at the beginning of the year.
Kevin Vasconi, CIO of Wendy’s, shared his experience and insight into technology advancements in an interview with Lopez Research. He said the company’s obsession with its customers has led it to explore new ways to address changing consumer behavior. Wendy’s is reimagining the restaurant experience for its customers, employees and delivery partners by blending digital technology with modern restaurant facilities. Changing the way delivery businesses operate within the context of physical restaurants provides an example of these changes. With the new Global Next Gen restaurant design, Wendy’s will add parking spaces for delivery drivers and a dedicated delivery pickup window. There is also a mobile her application that supports driver check-in. This design allows customers and delivery drivers to pick up their meals faster and more conveniently.
Mr Vasconi said: We also learned that customer behavior changes from day to day. For example, a customer may be primarily a delivery customer, but dine in or use the drive-thru on certain days. How can you meet your customers where they’ve been waiting and give them a better experience? You have to make sure each of the is seamless.
data, data, everywhere
For most companies, data is a plentiful but underutilized asset. But data is at the heart of Wendy’s vision to unlock new customer, restaurant, or employee experiences. “With your permission, the more we know about you, the better Wendy’s can provide you with a better experience. We can reduce friction and provide assistance. There are aspects, for example, consumers may want to eat their food as soon as possible, or they may want to browse the menu and try something new, be it speed, social, or shopping opportunities. We need to define whether or not,” said Vasconi.
Data is everywhere. The challenge is to collect and analyze it systematically. Vasconi shared that, broadly speaking, Wendy’s sees that data in two ways. The first is defining how data is used to improve the customer experience, which includes removing friction. Second, we’ll look at how Wendy’s uses data to improve the operations of its restaurant teams and franchise owners. For each use case, Wendy’s delivers a range of outcomes, including stronger business analytics, useful insights, and one-to-one marketing and personalization. However, Vasconi said the underlying infrastructure supporting these use cases is essentially the same.
The role of cloud in customer experience
Wendy’s has a hybrid cloud architecture. Like many companies, the company has a substantial on-premises computing environment. Mr Vasconi said: We have a strong desire to move everything to the cloud, and we may eventually do so. We have a bias against the cloud. When building new systems, build using mobile-first and cloud-first design standards. ”
Vasconi says the cloud brings speed and focus to analytics efforts. The cloud allows Wendy’s to automatically provision the appropriate computing resources for each restaurant’s requirements. “Infrastructure is no longer the item with the longest lead time. , has partnered with Google Cloud on hybrid cloud tools.
The partnership will allow Wendy’s to use Google’s pre-trained AI models out-of-the-box. Mr Vasconi said: A pretrained model is a great place to start. Even if he wasn’t 100% on target with these models, the company didn’t start from scratch. Combining on-demand infrastructure with prebuilt AI models increases speed. Acceleration is important because when you look at how you power your business, franchisees want to be responsive to business problems and opportunities as they arise. They don’t want him to wait a year and a half for an IT project to help. ”
Edge computing improves customer experience
Wendy’s undoubtedly has a huge amount of different data spread across many locations. Defining where and how to process data is key to future success. Certain applications and workflows require real-time analysis, while others may take minutes to days. Matching the right computing resources to the speed required to deliver a variety of experiences is essential. At Wendy’s, we call these analyzes “relevant times.” Not all data needs to be instant, so use data streaming analytics to get information to decision makers as soon as possible, or as soon as they need it.
For companies like Wendy’s with many distributed locations, edge computing technology represents an opportunity to deliver new value. Mr Vasconi said: I need that level of flexibility. My group supports his 7,000 restaurants in urban and remote areas. ”
Wendy’s needs reliable, high-speed Internet connectivity and edge computing technology to support their point of sale (POS), computer vision, and other upcoming requirements. He shared that Wendy’s is working with Starlink to provide fixed wireless access in certain areas, and it’s working well. Mr Vasconi said: The question is where to perform these calculations. His POS system at the restaurant is designed to collect and process orders rather than run AI functions. And most importantly, how can we make it a positive experience for our customers and employees? For these AI applications, it makes sense for Wendy’s to add edge computing inside the restaurant. Also at Google, he is working with Anthos to explore AI edge use cases.
When asked about lessons learned during the project, Vasconi replied: Bringing together cross-functional teams as technical or operational projects enables breakthrough innovation.
What are the early takeaways from Wendy’s Global Next Gen project? When we embrace digital acceleration, we need to rethink our experience. Companies cannot simply digitize existing workflows. Organizations must leverage technology to create, enhance, and extend new experiences. To do this, companies must build cross-functional teams that represent all building blocks to improve insight and usability. Companies also need to incorporate technology early into their designs rather than trying to add it to a near-finished project. Most importantly, Vasconi shared a comment that everyone should take note of when explaining the need to constantly evolve. he said: This is not the end, as consumers continue to change. Change is the only constant force. ”