IHOP is doubling down on its digital business with the help of Google.
The breakfast chain announced Thursday that it’s partnering with Google Cloud to upgrade its online ordering platform with AI technology. This is how it will work: Logged-in customers will see personalized options, including suggestions around frequently ordered items. For example, if a guest has ordered a lot of spicy items in the past, IHOP will recommend its new Poblano Eggs Benedicts.
The breakfast giant is the first in the restaurant industry to specifically use Google Cloud’s Recommendations AI Technology for online ordering. The innovation draws on years of work across Google Ads, Google Search, and YouTube. IHOP hopes to create an enhanced experience for the guest based on preferences and changes to its offerings, pricing, and promotions.
“At IHOP our guests always come first, and we’re constantly making new investments and improvements to meet their evolving tastes and expectations. One of the biggest shifts we’ve seen with our guests is a preference for online ordering, with IHOP’s to-go business rapidly growing to more than 20 percent of total sales in the last few years alone,” IHOP CMO Kieran Donahue said in a statement. “Our new partnership with Google Cloud infuses AI into IHOP’s online ordering experience, making it even easier for our guests to place online orders, quickly find the items they love, and discover our newest products relevant to their individual tastes and interests.”
IHOP’s off-premises business accounted for 20.7 percent in Q2, equating to about $8,000 in average weekly sales per restaurant. Of that mix, 7 percent was takeout and 13 percent was delivery. The sustained growth from pre-COVID is thanks to a new website, app, and loyalty program, the International Bank of Pancakes, which has almost 6.5 million members. To further ensure quality, IHOP uses to-go packaging that reduces moisture and traps heat because of its modular shape. It comes with a wide circular design to accommodate the brand’s signature pancakes.
The brand said it chose to work with Google Cloud because of its “ability to fuse disparate data sources together, a flexible model, and overall ease-of-use.”
“Using Google Cloud’s Recommendations AI and BigQuery products, our internal technology team developed an item recommendation engine, the first of its kind in the restaurant space using Google’s AI,” Krish Lakshminarayanan, Dine Brands vice president, data and analytics, said in a statement. “IHOP is now quickly building, training, configuring, and launching our own AI models that seamlessly interact with our guests and will provide them with a personalized online experience.”
This marks Google’s second major partnership with a restaurant this year. In early May, Google Cloud revealed that it was working with Wendy’s on testing drive-thru AI voice ordering.