Yum! Brands Acquires ‘Conversational Commerce’ Platform Amid Ongoing Digital Push

Yum! Brands, parent company of quick-service restaurant (QSR) giants Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, announced Wednesday (March 24) its acquisition of chat-based ordering and marketing platform company Tictuk. The company’s “conversational commerce” software enables consumers to engage with brands and to place orders through messaging platforms including SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Telegram.

“Omnichannel ordering creates new opportunities for relevant and intimate engagement with customers and gives brands the ability to reach a wider audience,” Tictuk Founder and CEO Tomer Ben-Ezra said in a statement. “By developing an ecosystem that synergizes ordering technology with performance marketing and analytics, we are empowering brands to better serve customers and increase sales.”

The news comes shortly after Yum! Brands announced its acquisition of artificial intelligence (AI) analytics company Kvantum, Inc., which creates complex models of consumer behavior to provide marketing insights. This latest add builds on the restaurant company’s recent eCommerce success, seeing a 45 percent increase in digital sales in 2020 for a total of $17 billion. These upgrades come as consumers’ adoption of digital ordering tools speeds up, with the events of the past year driving unprecedented levels of online engagement.

“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,” Clay Johnson, Yum! Brands’ Chief Digital and Technology Officer, said in a statement. “With Tictuk, we’re able to offer our franchisees around the world an incredibly effective omnichannel ordering system that can be customized to every market’s needs and implemented within just a few days … allowing us to offer more frictionless ordering experiences for our customers.”

As to the “omnichannel” element that Johnson referenced, Tictuk’s ordering software enables not just digital delivery orders, but also curbside pickup and even in-restaurant dining orders. The company has already been using Tictuk’s platform in around 900 restaurants outside the U.S.

In addition to these recent acquisitions, Yum! Brands has also been working on internally built digital technologies, according to a call with analysts in February, including a new KFC eCommerce platform, a tablet-based POS system for Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut’s HutSpot app, which looks to optimize work flow through “intelligent coaching.”

Of course, in the race to achieve the smartest and most frictionless digital ecosystem, Yum! Brands is not the only company making major moves right now. Domino’s, for one, is working with machine learning company Datatron to improve operations, identify marketing opportunities, and enhance its customer experience, according to a Datatron announcement on Monday (March 22). Meanwhile, many leading QSR chains are competing to offer the most personalized loyalty apps, using AI to tailor offers and messages to consumers’ individual preferences.

By acquiring leading players in these fields, rather than partnering with them, Yum! Brands positions itself to retain the advantage, with full ownership of its digital optimization, able to bar competitors from accessing technologies which they otherwise might have leveraged to their own advantage. Additionally, just as Yum! Brands has paired Kvantum’s technology with the expertise of the strategists at Collider Lab, a marketing strategy consultancy that was acquired by the QSR giant in 2015, these acquisitions give the company a chance to combine leading minds from a range of relevant fields to develop the most creative and effective digital solutions.


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