Tim Hortons, Burger King automation plans include app launch

The parent company of Tim Hortons and Burger King plans to launch an app Canada-wide

TORONTO — The parent company of Tim Hortons and Burger King plans to launch an app Canada-wide this spring that would allow customers to order and pay in advance on their smartphone without lining up to pay a cashier.

The move by Restaurant Brands International (TSX:QSR) follows a similar one by Starbucks and is the latest push towards more automation in the food service industry.

In the fall of 2015, RBI acquired Brewster App and tasked the startup’s dozen staff to develop the app.

“The first feature we’re going to be introducing is … the ability for a customer to have Tim Hortons (and Burger King) in their pocket,” said Steve Greenwood, RBI’s head of digital.

Since late December, the app has undergone testing in 25 Tim Hortons cafes in Ontario and 25 Burger King restaurants in Miami. The expansion would see the app rolled out to the roughly 4,000 Tim Hortons and Burger King locations across Canada.

In October 2015, Starbucks Canada launched a similar app at 300 stores in the Toronto area. The service is now available at various locations in the country, excluding Quebec and New Brunswick, according to the company’s website. The technology is not yet available for users of its French-language app.

Automated customer service is part of a general trend as people become increasingly accustomed to going online to access services, such as making reservations or pre-selecting movie theatre seats, said David Hardisty, an assistant professor at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Mobile order-and-pay applications make shopping faster and more convenient by allowing customers to bypass lines — and for those immersed in their own world, possibly avoid unwanted human interaction, Hardisty said.

The push towards greater automation could result in cashiers being laid off or put into different roles, but Hardisty said he doesn’t expect such jobs to be eliminated outright.

“Mostly everybody just uses ATMs and automated stuff all the time, but they still have tellers there,” he said. “Stuff comes up that’s just really hard for a completely automated system to handle.”

In 2015, self-service kiosks started showing up at McDonald’s restaurants in Canada. Many grocery stores and other retailers also offer self-serve checkouts.

For RBI, the app could pave the way for other developments, like self-service kiosks, Greenwood said.

The company already operates self-service kiosks in Burger King restaurants in several international markets and they’re being tested in the U.S., Shannon Hall, an RBI spokeswoman, said in an email.

Hall said individual franchisees make staffing decisions, but the goal of the app is to drive sales, which should result in more employment opportunities.

Apps also provide companies with an opportunity to build data on consumer habits and offer promotions and loyalty point programs to customers, Hardisy said.

“Once you, you’re drawn in for one thing, you also get involved in other things.”

Just Posted

Campaign renews push to make Bighorn Backcountry a wildland provincial park, ATV groups unhappy

A push to provide provincial protection for the Bighorn Backcountry area has… Continue reading

Flu cases steadily climb in Central Alberta

So far the number of Central Albertans admitted to hospital with the… Continue reading

CP Holiday train makes stops in Central Alberta

The popular train will feature entertainment from Colin James and Emma-Lee

Auditor general flags Royal Military College for costs, cadet behaviour

The Royal Military College of Canada has taken another blow to its… Continue reading

After death of 8th child, Ikea relaunches dresser recall in U.S and Canada

NEW YORK — Ikea relaunched a recall of 29 million chests and… Continue reading

VIDEO: Replay Red Deer: Nov. 19

Watch news highlights from the week of Nov. 13

Update: Innisfail girl found

A 15-year-old missing Innisfail girl has been located safe and sound. Police… Continue reading

Red Deer Christmas Bureau to help 1,300 children this year

Demand is high, but Red Deer always provides

CP Holiday train makes stops in Central Alberta

The popular train will feature entertainment from Colin James and Emma-Lee

Kittens rescued after allegedly being tossed from vehicle

Couple finds abandoned kittens new home through Facebook

VIDEO: ‘Party bus’ goes up in flames in Vancouver

Fire crews responded to the late night blaze

Chicken crosses B.C. road, stops traffic

Rooster makes early morning commuters wait in Maple Ridge

Red Deerian honours her brother who died in a motorcycle collision

Houaida Haddad is encouraging Red Deer residents to donate blood

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month