Ronald McDonald is at it again. The least scary clown in America has found a way to strike fear into the hearts of McDonald’s employees, at least those with a pulse. The fast-food chain has announced it will soon be replacing the front counter workers with kiosks. Almost all customer interaction will now be with benevolent machines.
[Scroll Down for Video]
The move comes after numerous test runs, and an increasing demand to pay entry-level workers more per hour. The move to automation won’t eliminate all human employees. The kitchen staff will still be sentient humans. And there will be some go-betweens who will manage the transfer of electronic orders to the customers.
The news of the technology overhaul was seen as favorable by investors. The share price is up 26 percent, according to CNBC.
“Andrew Charles from Cowen cited plans for the restaurant chain to roll out mobile ordering across 14,000 U.S. locations by the end of 2017. The technology upgrades, part of what McDonald’s calls ‘Experience of the Future,’ includes digital ordering kiosks that will be offered in 2,500 restaurants by the end of the year and table delivery,” Tae Kim of CNBC reports.
The kiosks are already in place in test markets across the country, and performing admirably. McDonald’s is still the industry leader. Moves the company makes are adopted by competitors throughout the world. Many companies will be watching the move closely, with hopes of integrating their own automation.
The move also marks a notable defeat for the #fightfor15 movement. The loosely organized group wants $15 minimum salaries for fast food workers. The push is meant to make the entry level jobs suffice for those struggling to advance in the workforce.
The adoption of automation also opens door for McDonald’s competition to begin even distancing themselves further from the chain. Having actual employees at the counter might be a selling point for those who would rather not interact with computers.
Still, McDonald’s share of the market is strong. And the customers who have tested the automated kiosks don’t seem to have been put off by the experience. It looks like the Experience of the Future might be the present, very soon.