Must-know: Why Chili’s is changing the way we order food

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Nov. 20 2020, Updated 5:17 p.m. ET

Brinker International’s other initiatives

Besides menu innovation, restaurant chains are adapting more digital media strategies to attract the Millennials. We discussed this in the Dunkin’ Donuts (or DNKN) series. In this part of the series, we’ll discuss Brinker International’s (EAT) efforts in digital media strategies.

EAT Ziosk 2014-09-21

Customer experience enhancement

The company introduced a digital interface at the restaurant table. It will improve customers’ experiences. The Ziosk—displayed above—allows a customer to order food and beverages. They can also entertain themselves while they wait for the food to arrive. Customers can even use the device to pay for their meal. Brinker International installed the device in all of its company-owned restaurants across the country. According to the Wall Street Journal, it installed 45,000 devices in 823 restaurants.

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The Ziosk is provided by a third party vendor. It isn’t exclusive to Brinker International. In another Market Realist series, we discussed that Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI) installed the Ziosk in 11 of its stores. They’re testing its success. Darden is a part of the Vanguard Total Stock Market (VTI). VTI is an exchange-traded fund (or ETF).

Kitchen of the future

The company also made technological changes in 50 of Chili’s restaurant kitchens. Chili’s management claims that the customer experience has improved because of consistency in the food quality. Kitchen enhancement—in terms of upgrading equipment or hiring extra personnel—is important. It allows the restaurant to handle traffic during peak hours. This helps same-store sales. We learned this in the Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) series and the Panera Bread (PNRA) series.

When a company focuses on improving same-store sales, the revenue can also improve. However, many restaurant chains also drive revenues from two other sources. We’ll discuss these sources in the next part of the series.

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