DoorDash Follows Wendy’s With An AI-Powered Order Taker


DoorDash announced today the launch of an AI-powered voice ordering system that it says will enable restaurants to increase revenue by ensuring that no customer calls go unanswered. The AI technology will also provide personalized recommendations to customers to boost the value of each order.

The system combines AI conversational bots with live agents, according to a company blog post, with the goal of capturing every phone order opportunity. The initiative has four goals: facilitate cost-effective incremental sales, relieve burdensome in-store labor, provide excellent customer experiences, and simplify merchant onboarding.

DoorDash is not the first fast food chain diving into AI-assisted ordering. As Decrypt reported in May, Wendy's revealed that it had developed an AI drive-thru chatbot trained using Google's natural language software. The Wendy's bot pilot kicked off at a restaurant in Columbus, Ohio.

While the move by Wendy’s was an industry first, DoorDash is doubling down on the voice AI trend. The company cites its own 2023 Restaurant Online Ordering Trends Report, showing that 20% of customers still prefer phoning in their takeout orders. However, restaurants often miss out on these potential sales, with up to 50% of calls going unanswered during busy times, DoorDash claims.

“Supporting operators by capturing customer demand through investments in our voice product is one way we're delivering more and enabling our partners to grow their business,” said Rajat Shroff, Head of Product and Design at DoorDash.

DoorDash's new solution is pitched as a win-win—increasing revenue for restaurants without sacrificing hospitality. The AI chatbots will handle taking orders, ideally freeing up staff to focus on providing quality in-store service. Customers get quicker call response times and personalized order suggestions.

As AI becomes more ubiquitous in the restaurant industry, concerns have emerged about these technologies eliminating jobs. A recent Pew Research study found a majority of U.S. workers are worried about AI's impact on employment. After all, what’s the point of having an employee to take orders if a robot is able to do the same for free?

DoorDash, however, maintains that its voice ordering innovation is to “further support restaurant operations,” not taking the place of human staff.

The next time you're craving takeout, don't be surprised if an artificially intelligent robot handles your phone order. Oh wait, this already happens. But at least AI chatbots are much nicer and never have to deal with rough days.

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