McDonald's has acquired a large tech start-up in a bid to deliver a more customised and personalised ordering experience.
The owner of the Big Mac is embracing big data and smart tech in a US$300 million ($440.3m) deal that stands to change the look of its digital drive-through menus.
It is the biggest acquisition in two decades for the global fast-food chain that is headquartered in Chicago. It has bought an Israeli company called Dynamic Yield that specialises in artificial intelligence and "decision-logic technology" in the retail sector.
It means customers will soon be offered food suggestions pushed towards them by smart algorithms, based on factors such as the weather, local trends, or even their car licence plate.
The technology can change touchscreen panels, used by drivers to order, to suggest coffee on cold days, frozen coke on hot days or show popular meals. It could also suggest food items based on what a customer has ordered in the past by recognising their number plate.
"McDonald's will utilise this decision technology to provide an even more personalised customer experience by varying outdoor digital Drive Thru menu displays to show food based on time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic and trending menu items," the company said in a statement.
"The decision technology can also instantly suggest and display additional items to a customer's order based on their current selections."
A number of reports citing people familiar with the deal state McDonald's has stumped up US$300m to acquire the company.
It's rare for Macca's to make moves like this, and the deal is the company's largest purchase since it acquired Boston Market in 1999.
McDonald's tested the tech at some of its US stores last year and will begin to roll it out in drive-throughs in the US in 2019 before expanding its use "to other top international markets".
The fast-food chain is also working on adding the system to self-order kiosks and its mobile app.
"With this acquisition, we're expanding both our ability to increase the role technology and data will play in our future and the speed with which we'll be able to implement our vision of creating more personalised experiences for our customers," said Steve Easterbrook, president and chief executive officer of McDonald's Corporation.