Innovación: McDonald’s: E-commerce platform coming to China in 2017

In 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 bared more or less 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.

Lea también: Innovación: McDonald’s promises to ‘make ordering fun’

Obviously, the global foodservice 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 24×7, 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.

“For cloud, we found a partner in AWS. We knew that they have the reliability and the capacity to support the needs of our digital platform. We also found the other partners we have work very well with AWS, their ecosystem, and their platform,” he said.

The cloud, it turns out, has become very important to building McDonald’s a digital platform. The project utilized over 35 AWS services such as the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), Elastic Load Balancing, and ElastiCache for the backend; Amazon Elastic MapReduce (Amazon EMR), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and Amazon Redshift for Big Data and customer engagement; and Amazon Route 53, Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC), AWS Direct Connect for the networking aspects; AWS Device Farm and Amazon ES2 Container Service (ECS), and finally Amazon CloudWatch and AWS IAM for access management and monitoring.

McDonald’s has since launched its new e-commerce platform in the United States and Canada. If one uses the McDonald’s app (in the US), Gergets said one can really see the blurring of the digital and the physical store.

“Looking back, we had great successes and great surprises. We were targeting our ordering throughput at 350,000 transactions per hour concurrent. We have achieved 500,000 (43 percent improvement). Our offers target was 600,000 per hour concurrent. We achieved over a million (66 percent improvement). That equates to 31 million transactions per hour or 8,600 transactions per second,” Gergets shared.

With this achievement, McDonald’s is now looking to pilot the platform next in the UK and Australia and in China in the first quarter of 2017.

At a press conference on the sidelines of AWS re:Invent, AWS CEO Andy Jassy affirmed that every vertical business segment is starting to use the cloud and using it meaningfully, a transition that has been happening over the last two-three years.

From startups to retail to healthcare to government to financial services, AWS is seeing different types of adoption curve for the cloud.

“All of the companies in these industries want to take advantage of the same capabilities that everybody else does and allows them to move faster, spend less, spend scarce engineering resource and what different their business,” Jassy said. “Virtually every company in the world is going to move most of their workloads to the cloud. The economies are just so compelling that it will happen.”

“Over and time, more and more companies are competing with other companies not just in in their own countries. They are competing on a multinational basis which I think which will continue to happen,” he added.

So what’s next for McDonald’s? Gergets said they are going to evaluate more platform services – ECS, Aurora, Lamda, SQS for agility and scale, among others.

“We want deeper integration of the services, we want to improve our capabilities. We are hoping to achieve much faster response times, greater movement of micro services and improved automation capabilities,” he added. “We had an exciting journey ahead of us, technology will be a key driver for McDonald’s for years to come.”

Fuente: Enterprise INNOVATION

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