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Do you want AI with that? Fast food chains go digital with dynamic pricing, bots

Do you want AI with that?

Fast food restaurants are diving deeper into the digital realm, adopting strategies that range from dynamic pricing to drive-thru voice bots and weather-based menu boards.

Wendy's clarified on Wednesday that the fluctuating prices it plans to implementnext year will mean smaller price tags during slower times of day, rather than surge pricing during peaks.

Backlash to the initial confusion over whether the burger chain would embrace the up-and-down pricing tactics similar to ride-hailing companies and ticket sellers marked the latest reaction to a quick-service sector increasingly shaped by digital technology and artificial intelligence.

Chains including Canadian-owned Popeyes as well as Taco Bell and Panera Bread have tested AI-driven virtual assistants at drive-thrus.

Next year, Wendy's plans to try out AI-prompted menu changes that are based on the weather — pushing cold shakes on a hot day, for example.

Retail analyst Bruce Winder says food costs are a sensitive topic after nearly two years of high inflation, and that companies need to be cautious in how they roll out dynamic pricing and other tech.



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