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We Tried Eating in the McDo NXTGEN and…(6-min read)

We usually pass by the newly opened McDo NXTGEN in McKinley West, on our way to work and upon going home. Been seeing quite the hype from media and friends posting on social media. We also see many people eating there despite its location of seeming isolation in a big empty field (so far), so we got curious and ate there recently just to give it a try.

McDo NXTGEN, from the name itself, is McDo’s next generation of stores. It features self-ordering kiosks where customers can just select from the big touch screen their orders, and supposedly be able to pay via cash or via card (credit card, prepaid card, etc.) In short, self-service. Similar stores are making waves abroad as McDonald’s and other brands are moving towards more effective use of available technology, streamlining their processes for faster turnaround time and rationalizing their operational costs — eventually they get to save on manpower, thereby reducing costs.

MCDO NXTGEN MCKINLEY WEST

Our first assessment on our first visit: New look and vibe, futuristic but still having birth pains.

The place is well new, and it’s got a new look. Design is different from existing McDo branches, so we can possibly expect old stores to be renovated into something similar. From the news, the plan of Golden Arches Philippines (part of Alliance Global PSE: AGI) is to convert 70% of stores into NXTGENs by 2021.

Upon our visit, the touch screen menus are operational, but the card payment feature of the kiosk that we tried is not yet available. A friendly service crew is also on stand-by to teach us newbies how to navigate the menu.

At first, the touch screen menu is easy to use, very visual and organized into similar food groups — spaghetti, rice meals, burgers, etc. They even have cheese burger customizer but we didn’t get to try it.

However, upon selecting say rice meal >>> 1 piece chicken, a new set of selection appears: various combinations of 1 piece chicken either with drinks, with fries, both, with soup, etc. At this part, the touch screen gets a bit glitchy. If one would like to see all the options (like we were looking for the no drinks no fries option since we are cheap like that), one will have to scroll and swipe to the left since the screen only shows 3 options and our choice is hidden at the rightmost option as the 6th option. And when we try scrolling to the left, the touch screen mistakes our swiping motion into a tap, inadvertently choosing the with drinks option for us. Is McDo trying to force us to buy drinks? Haha. I don’t think so.

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It’s understandable that McDo placed the no drinks option as the last option, offering cross sell products first (with drinks, with fries etc) to entice customers to spend some more. That’s business. But the user interface could be improved further by always presenting the menu in a grid format (just like in the home page), where all options are readily visible at a glance without needing to scroll the screen just to see the other options. This should make the selection and the whole transaction faster.

Since we’re trying this for the first time, it took us like 5 minutes going back and forth, cancelling the 1-pc chicken with drinks (inadvertently clicked) then trying gently to scroll the screen again to choose the no drinks option. Each time we tried to swipe to the left gently, it still senses that we clicked the with drinks option. Cancel, repeat. Even the service crew had a challenging time in trying to assist us.

These birth pains are understandable though. Since the kiosk is not yet fully functioning (maybe launched in phases), the kiosk will just issue a claim stub with a number. One will then present the stub to the cashier and pay the usual way for now. Then wait until your number is called so you can claim your order.

They just need to improve the user experience and interface of their touch screen menus. Birth pains as I’ve said. Maybe they can take a cue from Genki Sushi as they also use touch screen ordering. Though Genki Sushi’s menu is more straight forward while McDo has a diverse menu with various combinations, and with different pricing strategy.

Also, the wifey noticed that they need to have an option for special instructions. Like if you don’t like chicken leg and prefer another part, or pickles on your burger, the touch screen should be able to take that into consideration, especially if there will be no human intervention in the future from ordering to paying.

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THE FUTURE IS HERE. RISE OF THE MACHINES.

The wifey also suggested that it might be good for McDo to slowly introduce CLAYGO (Clean as You Go) in the NxtGen stores, anyway the concepts are futuristic and self-service. In more developed countries, there are not too many service crews, only those who man the cashiers and the kitchen. Customers clean as they go after eating, even segregating the trash into food waste, biodegradable, plastic, etc. Here in the Philippines, we got used to too many service crews who serve us, cleaning the tables, getting us water, extra gravy, etc.

Not just in the food industry but in other businesses as well. We employ too many side jobs, our processes are very manual, not yet automated. Here, jeepneys and buses have conductors and barkers when in other countries, it’s just a tap card collecting the fare. We still have guards and bell boys opening doors for us but in advanced countries, metal detectors and sensors open the doors and scan for potential threats. I’m sure bank tellers are also feeling the eventual takeover of the machines in their jobs as we see more and more cash deposit machines, plus the boom of mobile and online banking. Lending is also becoming more and more automated (like those who give small appliance loans in malls), as they rely more on scorecards and credit bureau, compared to the traditional way of many credit officers evaluating the applications using documents, ocular visits and callouts. Not to mention peer-to-peer lending and fintech.

There are now drones delivering items shopped from Amazon, and driverless cars of Uber.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-jobs, I know many Filipinos rely on these jobs, like I do. It’s part of what drives our economy. But we cannot and should not cannot ignore the fact that technology and machines will soon take over many jobs, especially the routine jobs. So before that time comes, Juan should be able to prepare for it, save as much as he can, and build more passive income streams while active income is still available.

The arrival of McDo NXTGEN can be a fun experience to those who just want to eat their favorite burger or chicken. But there’s no denying the fact, the future is here and machines are slowly taking over.

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