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Is McDonald’s investment into AI tech for its drive-thrus a bellwether for retail?

The McDonald's logo appears on the side of a McDonald's location.
The McDonald's logo appears on the side of a McDonald's location.
Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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It’s a sunny day outside, you pull up to the drive through window at your local McDonalds and see a milkshake advertised on the drive-thru menu. You didn’t want a milkshake initially, but it sounds good on a hot day like this…

That might no longer be a hypothetical situation. This week, McDonalds bought an artificial intelligence startup who’s tech can automatically change menus depending on the time of day, weather and even traffic.

Mcdonalds is reported to be paying $300 million. This is McDonald’s biggest buy since it bought Boston Market in 1999.

This comes against a backdrop of other retailers investing in the kind of machine learning that you’re more likely familiar with on the web -- retailers like Nike, Sephora and Walgreens.

Is machine learning and personalization the future of brick-and-mortar retail? As a consumer, how do you feel about this potential trend?

Share your thoughts by calling us at 866-893-5722.


Ann-Marie Alcántara, tech reporter for Adweek who focuses on retail and commerce, where she’s been following this story; she tweets @itstheannmarie  

Kit Yarrow, consumer research psychologist, professor at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, and author of “Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy” (Jossey-Bass, March 2014); she tweets @GenBuy