Fast Food Chain Sonic Drive-In Tests AI Powered Ordering

Sonic, the company that calls itself ‘America’s Drive In’ has announced that it’s testing new technology–an artificial intelligence-powered voice assistant and personalized dynamic menu at select U.S. locations later this year.
There are 3,606 Sonic Drive-In restaurants in 45 U.S. states. Menu options include hamburgers, French fries, onion rings, corn dogs, chili dogs and breakfast toaster sandwiches. Sonic is especially famous for its vast drink possibilities. While the restaurant offers standard soft drinks, slushies, and milkshakes, customers can combine various drinks and flavors to create thousands of possible mashups.
At a standard Sonic Drive-In, a customer drives into a covered drive-in stall, orders via intercom speaker, and has the food delivered by a carhop. Some Sonic restaurants also have patio seating, and many have drive-thru lanes.
For the new AI system, when customers approach a kiosk or drive-thru, they’ll be prompted to order using a Siri-like voice assistant which is integrated with a dynamic menu display. Then, using a proprietary algorithm, the menu will automatically update with customized information based on a variety of factors such as the time of day, weather, seasonality, and location.
Not only do younger consumers desire personalized interaction with their favorite brands, they’re starting to expect it. “We see facets of our brand, our restaurants, and AI technology converging in a way that makes for a special customer experience. Sonic is known for a fun environment and a full menu with extensive customization options that allows guests to personalize every meal,” said Sonic vice president of integrated customer engagement Jon Dorch. “Voice AI promises to provide carefree conversational ordering that complements the overall experience. We anticipate AI integration will also provide opportunities to streamline repeat orders, personalize suggestions based on data, and offer rewards that are truly relevant.”
For most national fast food chains, drive-thru ordering accounts for over 60% of restaurant transactions. Both McDonald’s and Chick-Fil-A have spent a lot of time and money studying how to streamline and improve drive-thru operations.
Sintel Systems offers complete omni-channel solutions such as the Direct-to-POS online ordering platform. This system allows restaurants of all sorts to have a custom, secure website and mobile app to support customer ability for placing orders on the go. Using our omni channel approach customers can order with an employee using a hand held device at busy drive thrus, order from a kiosk, order from their phone or order from a computer. If they prefer, they can even order inside the restaurant from staff at the counter. All transaction from devices are seamlessly sent to the kitchen display system (KDS). Kitchen staff stays completely in the know of customer orders and what order to cook them in. That’s the goal of omni channel POS, service is provided to the customer where they want it, how they want it.