Transformation of the Drive-Thru – Whitepaper

By | June 3, 2022
McDonalds Drive Thru Kiosks

Drive-Thru Restaurant Technology Whitepaper

Learn the latest drive-thru trends taking place across the restaurant technology industry that are meeting customers’ needs while increasing operators’ revenues.


Once considered an adjunct to an established restaurant, the drive-thru has evolved into an essential business component helping eateries achieve profitability and exceed customer expectations. Drive-thru’s are illustrative of a case where technology has helped redefine the dining experience. QSR Magazine cites examples of national chain restaurants that have more than doubled revenues by implementing an effective drive-thru strategy. The drive-thru has become the industry’s most popular offpremises channel having accounted for fifty-two percent of to-go orders in 2021. This growth activity represents an increase of four percent over the prior year.

Most industry practitioners believe restaurant success depends as much on service quality as it does on food quality. The speed and coordination in preparation, as well as the wholesomeness of menu items, are critical factors. Consumers have always sought speed and accuracy with a drive-thru order, but pandemic circumstances amplified guest expectations to include personalization and concise communications. From a drive-thru perspective, clear communications, accurate order entry, and secure payment processing are core technical elements for an effective operation.

It is estimated that the average American will spend more than $1,200 on drive-thru food this year. This sum represents a substantial annual increase attributable to the restrictions of the pandemic. Simply stated, drive-thru’s have become the restaurant industry’s most popular off-premises channel, accounting for more than half of all to-go orders in 2021, according to industry researcher NPD. This business volume represents an increase of four percent over the prior year. During the pandemic, restaurant takeout orders experienced exponential growth. As a result, operators need to continue supporting a multiple channel approach to off-premises dining that also includes delivery services and order ahead options, including mobile apps.

Since the 1940s, drive-thru’s continue to capitalize on convenience and quick ordering. Restaurants are making major investments in the drive-thru channel. The drive-thru technology must allow restaurant staff to communicate with customers with clarity and accuracy, so the order is placed once and not repeated. Drive-thru and the sophistication around the whole drive-thru process adds a tremendous amount of complexity to a point-of-sale environment. It is important to keep in mind the key considerations when dealing with drive-thru’s ability to quickly service an order, in terms of staffing, and utilizing payment and pickup windows to quickly move vehicles through the lane. Effective drive-thru technologies are imperative for efficient and quick drive thru experience for both operators and customers. The drive-thru became a lifeline for restaurants during the pandemic and might never be
looked at the same in the future.

DRIVE THRU IFBTA Panasonic May2022


Author: Staff Writer

Craig Keefner is the editor and author for Kiosk Association and kiosk industry. With over 30 years in the industry and experience in large and small kiosk solutions, Craig is widely considered to be an expert in the field. Major kiosk projects for him include Verizon Bill Pay kiosk and hundreds of others.