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10/12/2021

Wendy’s to enhance mobile, drive-thru ordering with AI

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Wendy’s
Wendy’s is partnering with Google Cloud to enhance the ordering experience.

The Wendy’s Company intends to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and hybrid cloud tools to create new ways customers can order food via touchpoints including drive-thru and mobile device.

The fast food hamburger chain will utilize Google Cloud data analytics, AI, machine learning (ML), and hybrid cloud technology, such as speech-to-text and Google search and maps to streamline customer access. Google Cloud will serve as Wendy’s preferred cloud provider.

Specifically, the company expects to leverage Google Cloud solutions including the Looker business intelligence and analytics tool, as well as the Anthos modernization platform, to both modernize operations and create brand-new services. Key elements of the partnership could include new ways of ordering food through mobile, web, and other touchpoints at the restaurant.

In addition, Wendy’s plans to reimagine the restaurant experience for customers and employees using the Google BigQuery and Looker solutions to improve business analytics and reporting. And with Google Cloud Anthos, an open-source-based platform that unifies the management of infrastructure and applications across on-premises and edge computing, Wendy's anticipates providing a next-generation restaurant experience by enabling store applications and real-time AI/ML to run anywhere – including in a modernized restaurant infrastructure or in the cloud.

Wendy’s is adopting Google Cloud on the heels of launching a new effort to enhance its online delivery capabilities with ghost — or delivery-only — kitchens. The company is partnering with Reef — the largest operator of delivery kitchens in North America — to open and operate 700 delivery kitchens during the next five years across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The rollout follows Wendy’s successful test of eight delivery kitchens in Canada in late 2020. 

In addition, the company’s plans to create a next-generation drive-thru and mobile experience at its stores are reminiscent of a recently launched effort by Taco Bell. In the first quarter of 2021, Taco Bell introduced the new "Taco Bell Go Mobile" concept, which is designed to enhance the digital and drive-thru experience for customers.

Taco Bell Go Mobile features two drive-thru lanes, including a new priority pick-up lane with rapid service for customers who have ordered online via the Taco Bell app. The restaurants are outfitted with smart kitchen technology that is integrated with the brand’s app and detects when customers have arrived and alerts them to the quickest route for pick-up: curbside, the express lane or carry-out.

"We are committed to providing our customers with the greatest experience possible, and our partnership with Google Cloud is raising the bar by enabling us to match the experience to their preferences," said Kevin Vasconi, CIO, Wendy's. "We believe Google Cloud's AI/ML and data analytics solutions will enable Wendy's to innovate ways to create fast, frictionless, and fun interactions that redefine the way customers visit and enjoy our restaurants."

"Wendy's has always been a leader—from introducing the first modern day pick-up window in the industry to the first fast-food salad bar," said Robert Enslin, president of sales at Google Cloud. "By bringing together Wendy's commitment to innovation, with the best of Google technology, we can help build the quick service restaurant of tomorrow that redefines speed, convenience, and quality."