Yum! has a $200 million stake in Grubhub and took its time rolling the capability out to KFC and Taco Bell. The reason being Yum! wanted to make sure its point-of-sale was integrated directly into Grubhub’s app. This way, pickup could be timed to the moment an order is ready. It would make it easier for ground-level operators to serve orders and avoid the “tablet hell” so many legacy brands endure just to avoid missing the delivery boat.
While slow, KFC has felt built for the off-premises boom from the outset, Caldwell says. Yum! CEO Greg Creed, who is retiring at year’s end, said earlier that KFC’s dinner strength over competitors gives it a leg up in the game already, given delivery’s tendency to over-index the daypart in most markets. “I always jokingly said, I think the Colonel 60 years ago invested in the bucket realizing that one day we’d be delivering it,” Creed said.
Caldwell adds KFC spent more than a year and a half smoothing out operations to prepare for a national mobile ordering launch. It wanted the delivery and pick-up sides to be seamless. “Frictionless fried chicken,” as the team refers to it internally.
Once the brand was ready to flip, he says, KFC started to strategize cross-functionally across departments. Bring in creative marketing, a KFC staple. Menu innovation. And find the right time to air the company’s first nationally advertised free delivery offer.
The answer was Kentucky Fried Wings and football season. On October 11, KFC added the items and activated free delivery on orders of $12 and up. It didn’t matter if customers used KFC’s site or a third-party app.
A week later, KFC introduced “Seasoned Tickets” via Stubhub. For $75, consumers (500 of them) could receive weekly offers to get 48 wings delivered every week for 10 straight. As quirky as the concept was, the aim was straightforward. “To really, really highlight and build some mass of awareness to our consumers that we’re now in the online ordering game,” Caldwell says.
After KFC’s soft rollout, where it simply let guests stumble upon the functionality on its website, it began putting POP displays in restaurants. Then came the TV, “and that’s when it just skyrocketed from a sales perspective,” he says.
The key all along, Caldwell adds, was to make sure it didn’t feel like a trial run to guests. And for KFC, getting there required online training at all levels. KFC tried to think of everything before anything happened.
One example: KFC noticed, in some cases, that a driver would arrive and something would go awry with the geofence so the order didn’t flow into its kitchen display system. So, the chain built an application interface on its point of sale where it could click an online button and see any current orders. If the driver showed up early or late, KFC could examine the order and trigger it to the back line.
“Just creating small, little things like that to make sure we have all the technology in place for our operators to deliver a consistent experience to our customers,” Caldwell says. “That was essential.”