Yum China Holdings has introduced various in-store technology initiatives at KFC stores in the country to enhance customer experience, drive growth and optimise operational efficiency.

These initiatives include AI-powered self-ordering digital kiosks and a fully automated dessert station.

The self-ordering digital kiosks are the result of a joint collaboration between KFC and Alibaba to assist customers in navigating and ordering food from KFC’s menu.

Launched initially in Suzhou, China, the fully automated dessert station allows customers to scan a QR code and select one of three ice cream flavours available at the station, where a robotic arm scoops and serves the ice cream.

Yum China introduced the dessert station service to more than 1,000 KFC dessert kiosks across China.

“We will continue to explore the latest technologies to create unique dining experiences and offer our customers more convenient and personalised services.”

Yum China CEO Joey Wat said: “Digital is transforming the restaurant industry and we are excited to test cutting-edge technologies at scale and bring new experiences to our customers. We are using technology to redefine every touch point of the customer journey.

“With our in-store technology applications, KFC and Pizza Hut super apps and partnerships with leading technology partners, we have created a powerful digital ecosystem that offers a seamless experience for our customers whether they are on mobile, online or dining in restaurants.

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“We will continue to explore the latest technologies to create unique dining experiences and offer our customers more convenient and personalised services.”

Yum China has also announced the expansion of its facial recognition payment technology, ‘Smile to Pay’, to more than 300 KFC stores across the country.

Smile to Pay is a solution from Alibaba’s Alipay, which was introduced at a KFC restaurant in Hangzhou in 2017. The solution allows customers to pay for orders at digital kiosks through facial recognition.

KFC expanded the service to more than 300 restaurants across the country after receiving positive customer feedback.

The company will also open a future store concept in Hangzhou that integrates its digital technologies to offer customers enhanced digital experiences featuring all the digital initiatives such as self-ordering kiosks and digital and mobile payment solutions.