US: Fast food makes its biggest change since the drive-thru

Restaurants often lag other industries in adopting new technology, lacking the time or budget for massive digital overhauls. But as industry sales have slowed recently, smartphone conveniences have found their way into the world of burgers and fries. Many in the industry are betting that its future lies in that technology — in large part through mobile orders, payments and delivery. Mobile ordering and delivery from the likes of McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, Wendy’s and Burger King mark the biggest change in the way people order fast food since the drive-thru. As that change ripples through the industry, restaurants are facing down questions like how to preserve margins, avoid parking-lot traffic jams, and keep French fries crispy once they enter the balmy ecosphere of the delivery bag. Just as the drive-thru accommodated generations shaped by mass-market car culture, the new digital efforts cater to a new cohort of fast-food customers shaped by e-commerce, social media, smartphones, streaming video and, in one way or another, a lack of time. Report by Investors Business Daily