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Business Insider reports that McDonald's plans to roll out a so-called "next generation" store concept that it already has been testing in Europe, Canada and Australia, to the United States over the next couple of years.

The story says that these "Experience of the Future" stores feature Samsung Galaxy tablet computers that are mounted on tables, allowing customers to place more customized orders and pay for them without standing on line at the counter; they also can provide various kinds of entertainment while people are waiting for their food.

According to Business Insider, McDonald's "hopes that adding technology to its eateries can improve the customer experience and drive sales." However, since it remains a pilot project, "exactly how it will work remains a bit of a moving target."
KC's View:
I have two things to say about this, and I'm going to try to do it without engaging in the sort of easy target practice that I sometimes utilize when commenting on McDonald's.

First, I think this is fundamentally a good idea. The story points out, quite rightly, that in many ways the traditional McDonald's store seems to operate pretty much the same way it did 50 years ago. Adding these kinds of technological flourishes - and making them relevant to the customer and the brand - is a good idea.

That said, I think that McDonald's has to be careful about defining the "future" too specifically. I think savvy companies actually play around with lots of different technologies, to see what connects and what doesn't. Maybe instead of tablets, there could be a role for Amazon Echo-type voice recognition computers to take orders. Or maybe there will be something else that comes on the scene tomorrow, that makes tablets and the Echo yesterday's news. Being relevant in the future means doing everything you can not to cast strategies and tactics in stone.

The second thing is that I continue to believe that the best thing McDonald's can do for its business is improve the food. I try to avoid fast food, but over the past few weeks, for various reasons, I've eaten in both an In-N-Out and a Burgerville ... and the hamburgers they make are far superior to pretty much anything on McDonald's menu. (And I actually stopped at a McDonald's when driving out to Oregon in mid-June, so I have some recent experience with this.) Just make the food better ... and let technological change support that effort.