DoorDash launches AI-powered voice ordering


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For those who prefer the old-school method of ordering takeout — over the phone — DoorDash has your back. Today the food delivery platform launched AI-powered voice ordering that answers calls and provides customers with curated recommendations.

According to the company’s 2023 Restaurant Online Ordering Trends Report, one in five customers prefer ordering takeout via phone — but up to 50% of customer calls currently go unanswered, resulting in potential revenue losses. 

“Customers expect more from restaurateurs, and in return, restaurateurs expect even more technology-forward solutions from us — including support for phone channels to meet customers where they’re ordering,” said Rajat Shroff, head of product and design at DoorDash, in a press release. “Supporting operators by capturing customer demand through investments in our voice product is one way we’re delivering more and enabling our partners to grow their business.”

AI-powered voice ordering is becoming big business

AI-powered voice ordering is becoming big business across the restaurant industry: In May, AI company SoundHound announced a voice AI partnership with Oracle for a point-of-sale technology integration that enables consumers to dictate their orders at the drive-thru.

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At the same time, Uber Eats launched an Amazon Alexa integration that allows consumers to track orders through their Amazon Echo devices.

According to DoorDash, the new voice AI offering is based on feedback from restaurant partners and on customer preferences. “Coupling AI with best-in-class live agents ensures customer calls will be answered with little to no wait, enabling operators to capture the unmet customer demand,” said the press release.

In addition, during restaurant peak times, AI can answer calls to allow employees to focus on hospitality to in-store customers. The AI offering also allows returning customers to quickly reorder their favorite meal, while live agents can jump in at any time.

DoorDash was built on AI

Of course, DoorDash was built on AI: According to a 2017 VentureBeat article, Tony Xu, DoorDash’s cofounder, decided in 2013 to build the company’s food-delivery software on artificial intelligence.

“DoorDash at the end of the day has to be a phenomenal measurement and data business,” Xu said at MB 2017. “There’s a lot of information in the software world and in the physical world. From day one, our thinking was to create a business to bridge the two.”

Machine learning has long helped DoorDash with logistics, navigating “dashers” to the right places at the right time. It can also recalibrate a restaurant’s offerings when a worker has called in sick, and offer personalized recommendations.

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