Could voice assistants power the future of meal delivery and pick-up?

Voice assistants could soon take care of take-out orders. — AFP Relaxnews

Among the many possibilities of artificial intelligence, it is conceivable that voice-activated assistants, which are increasingly used in the home, could take over from smartphones when it comes to ordering meals for pick-up or home delivery.

While the global food delivery mobile application market is expected to grow 25% each year through 2030 to reach a value of US$62.8mil, according to analysis from Allied Market Research, voice assistants could soon join smartphones in powering the food take-out and home-delivery sector.

In the US, the bakery and coffee chain Panera Bread, which was an early experimenter of subscription-based dining, is trying out a new way to engage with its customers. The chain, which has more than 1,800 outlets in the US and Canada, has partnered with Amazon to enable its Alexa voice assistant to take orders for in-store pick-up or home delivery.

The service is only available via the Echo Show, Amazon’s smart display with Alexa onboard. Moreover, it is only being offered to members of the restaurant's loyalty scheme. Then, users can simply use voice commands to place an order, since Panera Bread's menu has been integrated with Alexa's artificial intelligence.

The bakery chain is not the first restaurant to allow its customers to place orders hands-free. In the United States, Domino’s pizza and Chipotle’s Mexican menus are accessible via Alexa. Moreover, Amazon’s assistant has had this capability for a long time, since the American meal delivery platform, Grubhub, deployed this service back in 2017.

The Panera Bread chain is particularly committed to experimenting with new technologies to support the transformation of consumption patterns in the restaurant sector. It is the first coffee shop chain to test Amazon One, the contactless payment system that uses biometrics to read the palm of the user’s hand.

Their palm print is linked to a credit card number and a phone number that acts as a means of payment. The system is already being used by Whole Foods Market and Amazon retail outlets in the US. – AFP Relaxnews

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