Popeyes Leans on Drive-Thru Channel to Boost Demand Fulfillment Capabilities


As restaurants seek out more labor-efficient ways to fulfill demand, many are turning to the drive-thru channel.

On Tuesday (April 19), quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain Popeyes announced that the company plans to open more than 200 restaurants in the United States and Canada this year, as well as a number of locations in other countries.

Over half of the new restaurants are set to feature a double drive-thru in an effort, according to a company spokesperson, “to serve increased traffic, boost speed of service and ultimately further enhance the guest experience.” The announcement is part of an initiative on the part of Popeyes parent company Restaurant Brands International first announced in the fall of 2020 to update the drive-thru experience at its restaurant chains (which also include Burger and Tim Hortons).

The news comes at a time when labor challenges are hurting restaurants’ ability to meet demand, requiring brands to prioritize the channels that allow for the greatest number of orders with the least labor.

“[Restaurants are] still struggling. So, revenue’s up, dining is up, and it really could be a boom market for them if they could get the labor,” Andrew Robbins, CEO of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) customer experience management (CXM) solutions provider Paytronix, told PYMNTS’ Karen Webster in an interview last month.

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Research from PYMNTS’ 2022 Restaurant Friction Index, also created in collaboration with Paytronix, which drew from a survey of more than 500 managers of QSRs and full-service restaurants (FSRs) across the United States, found that about half of all restaurants offer drive-thru pickup, and that share jumps to two-thirds when it comes to QSRs specifically. Plus, 59% of QSRs offer the ability to order via an app.

Related news: PYMNTS Data: Loyalty Programs Best Way to Get Diners to Spend More

Rising fuel costs add urgency, with the consequences of long wait times mounting for consumers, driving demand for mobile order-ahead options.

“When someone pulls in, they want to be in and out very quickly. They don’t want to sit; they don’t want to idle,” Dwayne Chambers, chief marketing officer at Checkers & Rally’s Drive-In Restaurants, said in an interview with PYMNTS. “Literally, as gas prices go up, that time is money when they’re driving, and so I think you’re going to see a lot more people ordering ahead, where they don’t even have to stop at the drive-thru … It’s already paid for. It’s done.”

See also: Checkers & Rally’s CMO: Rising Fuel Costs Demand Greater Drive-Thru Efficiency

According to data from the February edition of PYMNTS’ Digital Divide study, “The Digital Divide Report: Technology As A Catalyst For Restaurant Purchases,” created in collaboration with Paytronix, 38% of consumers report that the ability to pick up orders at the drive-thru could incentivize them to make more purchases from a restaurant. Moreover, the study, which drew from a census-balanced survey of more than 2,400 United States adults, found that 30% said the same of the ability to order from a mobile app.

Read more: How Eateries Can Tap Order Throttling Tools as Delivery Demand Grows