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3 fast casuals that are boosting their ordering technology

From voice ordering to an online game-enabled extension, here are the latest ways restaurants are making it easier for consumers to buy food.
Photograph courtesy of Chipotle Mexican Grill

Consumers are getting, well, demanding in the on-demand economy. And restaurants are leveraging the latest technology to make ordering a seamless experience—so seamless, it can be done while playing a video game or having a conversation.

Dallas-based fast-casual Wingstop announced Wednesday an ordering extension with Twitch, a popular online gaming platform and community.

“This new ordering extension is a first-to-market program that recommends meals to viewers and encourages them to start their flavor journey while still remaining in the action of the stream,” said Christina Clarke, Wingstop’s head of marketing, in a statement. “Experience is a top priority for our brand.”

To start ordering, Twitch viewers answer questions abut the size of their order based on the number of people present and their hunger level. A “Twitch streamer” provides order suggestions before directing customers to the Wingstop website to finish the order and confirm payment.

Wingstop’s online ordering extension is available on select Twitch streams in the coming weeks.

Chipotle Mexican Grill on Wednesday launched a skill via Amazon’s voice-controlled Alexa service that allows customers to reorder favorite meals for delivery or pickup.

To use voice ordering, customers must be a member of the Newport Beach, Calif.-based fast casual’s rewards program. After linking a Chipotle profile through the Alexa app and enabling the appropriate skill, customers can say, “Alexa, tell Chipotle to reorder my favorite for delivery.”

“We always strive to introduce additional access points in the Chipotle ordering experience and overall digital ecosystem,” said Nicole West, vice president of digital strategy and product management for Chipotle, in a statement. “With this new skill for Alexa, our customers can get their favorite Chipotle orders delivered straight to their door in the most convenient way possible—all they need to do is ask.”

Chipotle has rolled out artificial intelligence-generated voice assistants to all 2,500 of its units, the company said.

The voice automation offers the option to pay ahead and skip the line to go straight to digital pickup shelves or collect the order through a drive-thru “Chipotlane.”

And Atlanta-based Moe’s Southwest Grill this week said it would become the first Mexican fast-casual brand to open an all-digital, kiosk-only location.

The units are slated to open early next year in Pittsburgh and Charlottesville, Va., both near college campuses. They will include four self-order kiosks that will accept cash, Apple Pay, or, in the Pittsburgh location, a University of Pittsburgh payment system.

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