Yum is ramping up its technology investments to keep pace with the demands of a rapidly changing restaurant industry. The pandemic has pushed more consumers to adopt digital and mobile ordering while dine-locations remain closed or operating in a limited capacity. Yum has felt a windfall from these trends and clearly expects some of them to stick. Digital sales across its portfolio reached a record $17 billion in 2020, a roughly 45% year-on-year increase.
But the broader shift to digital brings operational and customer experience considerations that may be costly and time-intensive to realize internally. Acquisitions are one way for Yum to access the expertise needed to tap into burgeoning spaces like conversational commerce, which it has already dipped its toes into through an existing partnership with Tictuk. Social media engagement at the same time has spiked among homebound consumers who could be more receptive to placing an order through platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp or even text message.
Tictuk's solution deploys a mix of chat, web features, advertisements and marketing technology to connect with consumers, per the press release. It can integrate with point-of-sale systems and is available across delivery, curbside pick-up and in-store channels. With the deal, Yum looks to offer "more frictionless ordering experiences," Chief Digital and Technology Officer Clay Johnson said in a press statement.
"Tictuk has a proven track record of driving increased conversion, loyalty and sales by making it even easier for customers to order our brands through their preferred social media or conversational channel," Johnson said.
Yum is enacting broader changes to spotlight mobile and digital ordering capabilities at its franchises. Taco Bell, for instance, is testing new restaurant concepts that prioritize drive-thru and limit dine-in seating. Taco Bell recently introduced a loyalty program as part of its mobile app to seize on consumer interest in ordering through the channel.