Dunkin’ Donuts Dives Into Retail Expansion

One of the chain’s 11,000-plus locations worldwide.

“America’s favorite” is about to become more accessible than ever. Yesterday, beloved donut and coffee chain Dunkin’ Donuts announced plans to open 17 new stores in the Atlanta area with the help of three current franchisee groups. This move was likely fueled by the franchise’s success this past fiscal year — it generated $7.6 billion in U.S. sales — and will serve to expand its current network of 8,000-plus Dunkin’ Donuts locations nationwide.

Of the 17 future locations, 11 — which are to be located in Calhoun, Cartersville, Marietta, Rockmart, and Smyrna — will be developed by the Bluemont Group, which currently operates 22 Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Tennessee; four will be added by Sandip and Ronak Patel, who already own six units in the Atlanta and Columbus areas; and one will be added by single-unit operator West Georgia Cafe. In addition, the company has announced that four of the soon-to-be locations will be co-branded with sister chain Baskin-Robbins, also owned by parent company Dunkin’ Brands Group: one by West Georgia Cafe, and three by the Patels’ group.

With more than 11,000 locations across the globe, Dunkin’ Donuts is clearly a veteran at operating stores. However, there is no way for the company to completely shield itself from the inevitable challenges that come with sudden expansion. Big-name retailers everywhere, from GameStop to Lacoste, are choosing to invest in brick-and-mortar stores during an era of shopping that is increasingly being taken over by e-commerce — and in doing so, they all face similar challenges.

Like these other retailers, Dunkin’ Donuts will need to ensure that its pouring of resources into new locations is not a misguided action — and today’s latest technology, made available to retailers by software companies, could potentially play an integral role in this task. Using a cost-efficient yet reliable method of recording and analyzing customer traffic would allow the company to gauge how its stores are faring, while cloud-based forecasting would allow it to predict future occupancy and staff its employees accordingly to match the predicted demand. And speaking of staffing, why not staff the right people at the right time using auto-scheduling technology in order to maximize efficiency?

These and other forms of technology could largely help Dunkin’ Donuts gracefully take on the task of dramatic retail expansion. And it looks like, if the franchise’s plans work out favorably, even more of America will run on Dunkin’.

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