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4 QSRs leading digital innovations

4 QSRs leading digital innovations

One look at the news today and you’ll notice a major uptake in an ongoing shift: Quick-service restaurants (QSRs) are prioritizing digital campaigns.

Many experts have attributed the rise of full-service digital QSRs to the ongoing pandemic and the increased convenience of an online experience. To meet growing demand, QSRs have begun ramping up their digital efforts — and we’ve combined a few of our favorite strategies into one list.

1. BurgerFi

Aside from the shift online, many QSRs are experiencing a change in employee retention. Numbers are low despite the demand from consumers remaining a priority for brands. To solve this issue, BurgerFi is adding to the number of digital kiosks inside its stores.

According to QSR magazine, BurgerFi first tested the technology for a few months and noticed that “the technology absorbed between 50 and 70 percent of orders, with a 30 to 50 percent upsell rate.” 

Digital success is nothing to this fast-casual restaurant. BurgerFi gained nearly 2.5 million digital orders in 2021, an 18 percent increase yearly.

The brand expects to implement kiosks into 25 corporate locations in the coming months. 

2. Taco Bell

Taco Bell has blown the world of digital QSRs wide open (in the best way possible, of course).

As part of its latest digital innovations, Taco Bell has opened the first-ever “Taco Bell Defy,” a gravity-defying drive-thru restaurant. The kitchen resides above four drive-thru lanes and a takeout window. A conveyor system lowers the food down to the pick-up kiosks.

The decision to prioritize drive-thru orders is right in line with Taco Bell’s best strategies. Pre-pandemic, about 70 percent of sales at Border's Taco Bells came from the drive-thru line. Today, that number is higher than 90 percent.

Taco Bell currently has a wait time of about 4.5 minutes — the fastest in the industry — but is looking to shorten it to two minutes. 

3. Cafe Rio

Cafe Rio launched its newest digital location in Arizona this past April and the results exceeded expectations. The Digital Café’s first week of sales were higher than what the other 2022 openings made on average.

The cafe functions through the Cafe Rio app and the new digital kiosk. Customers who want to order ahead — curbside delivery, in-store pickup, drive-thru — can use the app for a more convenient experience.  

4. Tim Horton's

Tim Horton’s is one of the latest brands joining the drive-thru only trend.

The franchise is planning to launch its first drive-thru only store later this summer after seeing great success with the prototype. 

The store will be connected to the Tim Horton's mobile app, and offers guests the chance to order ahead, collect rewards points and access weekly exclusive offers. The restaurant also plans to have a pickup shelf and mobile order parking spots.

Tim Horton's will also be offering a 1,600-square-foot restaurant with 24 seats inside.

Digitized QSRs are all the rage and some of the smartest fast-casual restaurants are taking notice. This list is a small portion of the brands who are leading the charge.


Picture of Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener is a brand journalist for Quikly. She covers stories that help to inform and educate consumer-facing marketers.

Picture of Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener is a brand journalist for Quikly. She covers stories that help to inform and educate consumer-facing marketers.