McDonald's to trial cloud e-commerce platform in China in Q1

McDonald's to trial cloud e-commerce platform in China in Q1In March this year, McDonald’s Corporation announced its broad plans for growing its business in Asia, starting off with seeking partners who can be its partners in the growth initiatives, restaurant expansion, and modernization.

“It’s an exciting time to be at McDonald’s. We have a vision to be a modern and progressive burger company,” said Tom Gergets, McDonald’s chief technology officer, at Amazon Web Services (AWS) annual users conference re:Invent 2016 in Las Vegas last week.

Gergets detailed the scale at which its global operations are run and its growing footprint in Asia, where the company has a $1-billion e-commerce delivery business in 23 countries running today.

Obviously the global food service retailer has a compelling interest in technology, and not just to make operations more efficient, but to take services to another level across the different markets it serves all the world.

“We know that our customers' expectations are changing. They are looking for us to be available 24x7, both inside of our restaurants and out. They are looking for personalized experiences, they are looking for recognition for their loyalty and even options for delivery. So, to meet those expectations, we are investing significantly in technology,” he said.

The challenge, according to Gergets, is the size of McDonald’s itself. “Our Point of Sale (POS) system runs on 200,000 registers and 300,000 devices across the globe in varying configurations. For us to provide an integrated customer experience for kiosks, mobile ordering, and offers requires seamless integration of their POS at the scale of McDonald’s. That in itself was no small task,” he disclosed.

Thus, when the company started to build its digital platform, Gergets said they took a really close look at the architecture and recognized that they were going to require public cloud for its near infinite capacity and capabilities.

“Just to give you a perspective, 69 million customers a day, 36,000 restaurants, 6,000 menu items and in each of those restaurants varying availabilities and configurations that need to come together at one moment in time for customer experience,” he said.

Building a new e-commerce platform that is responsive to its customers wherever they are in the world requires three things - scalability, security, capacity.

But there’s one thing that McDonald’s does best, according to Gergets. It’s leveraging partners.