Fast-casual restaurant chain Wingstop says it is beloved by millenials – roughly half of sales comes from that key demographic. To stay in that tech-savvy group’s good graces, the chicken wing purveyor’s latest initiative is a bid to win on social.
On Tuesday, Wingstop (WING) will announce the debut of a social ordering platform that will allow diners to place their orders on Twitter (TWTR) and Facebook’s (FB) Messenger platforms. The goal, the company says, is for an order to be processed in under a minute.
Though other chains, like Domino’s (DPZ), have tinkered with social media ordering, Wingstop says it is the first chain to lean on technology that has actual conversations. As a result, Wingstop says it can book customized orders and also process the order entirely within the social media platform.
“We have a very socially minded millennial customers,” Wingstop Chief Marketing Officer Flynn Dekker told Fortune. He said today’s consumers are a more impatient society that doesn’t want to have to wait for their food.
“We all want to cut the line. This technology allows people to cut the line,” Dekker added. Wingstop is planning to add more social ordering capabilities across other platforms down the road.
Here’s how it will work: a potential customer can tweet “order” or “#order” to the company’s Twitter handle, @Wingstop, or direct message the corporate page on Facebook Messenger to begin the ordering process. In either case, the interaction is then handled via private conversation to complete the order. Diners are also told where their nearest Wingstop location is and given an estimated pick-up time.
While a handful of companies beyond the restaurant world have tinkered with social media ordering, it still remains a fairly small niche opportunity. However, the popularity of such practices could increase as users spend more time in social media apps. Potentially, social media ordering could find mass acceptance the way online ordering has become more popular in recent years. At Wingstop, which only started booking online orders in 2009, online ordering now makes up 15.8% of total sales. That figure was around 5% in 2012.
For Wingstop, the new initiative redefines how it can approach targeting advertising. The company spends millions on digital ads but when users flag their interest in the brand by saying “I want wings,” that’s a direct conversation Wingstop can have with a fan that it couldn’t achieve with ads.
Wingstop, which launched in initial public offering last year, is a fast-casual chain like Chipotle (CMG) and Panera (PNRA) and specializes in selling nearly a dozen chicken wing flavors including cajun, lemmon pepper, and teriyaki. Revenue at the company’s restaurants – there are 900 restaurants globally – has steadily increased as have same-restaurant sales, which jumped 7.9% last year at domestic locations.