The Massachusetts-based coffee and doughnut chain is testing out an Amazon Go-style shop in California in October that lets customers walk in, grab coffee and donuts themselves without ordering or waiting in line to pay, according to a press release. Dunkin' is the latest in a number of fast-food chains, grocers and tech companies implementing contactless retail and drive-in only business models in the age of the coronavirus pandemic.
Customers will reportedly be able to shop at the contactless checkout location by downloading the Dunkin' app and using a QR code displayed on phones to enter the test store location and access self-service areas for doughnuts and coffee.
Shoppers will get a notification with their digital receipt that can be viewed on the Dunkin' app once they exit the store, similar to Amazon Go, where shoppers can browse for groceries and be charged on their phone via Amazon Prime. The automated self-service platform is called Shop Anywhere by Mastercard. Foodservice management company Delaware North and Circle K are also testing out the system.
"We continue to look for ways to make the Dunkin’ brand more convenient and accessible, whether that’s through digital technology, including our DD Perks program, mobile ordering via the Dunkin’ app, delivery, and curbside pickup, or our NextGen restaurant design, which emphasizes faster, contactless service,” a spokesperson for Dunkin' told FOX Business in an email.
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With demand for touchless shopping and check-out spurred by the coronavirus health crisis, a number of grocery store chains and fast-food restaurants have begun reimagining their retail models.
Burger King last week announced plans for revamped restaurant designs, including a conveyor belt system to deliver food from the kitchen to the drive-thru for touchless pickup. Guests placing online and delivery orders will also get access to coded lockers outside of restaurants where they can pick up food instead of interacting with employees.
And Taco Bell said last month it planned to debut a mobile-only restaurant next year for customers to order food via its app and pick it up curbside. The “smart” restaurant will also be able to detect when customers arrive for their orders and suggest the quickest route to pick it up.
And last week, Whole Foods opened its first online-only retail store in Brooklyn, N.Y. to cater to increased demand with nearly 80% of Americans saying they’ve ordered food online during the pandemic. Convenience store chain 7-Eleven, meanwhile, teamed up with online grocery ordering and delivery platform Instacart last week to allow shoppers to get everything from alcohol and snacks to cold medicine and toilet paper delivered.
The trend toward more customers seeking out contactless shopping experience does not seem to be a fleeting one, and, as a result, may also lead to fewer retail store locations, or downsizing. Dunkin' in July said it expected to permanently close 800 U.S. locations by the end of the year, accounting for 8% of the chain's domestic restaurant footprint, a sign, perhaps, that fewer people are buying coffee in stores.