“T-Bell, U up?”: Fast food text ordering on the horizon

Taco Bell chalupa, tacos and sauces on wrappers
Photo: Rachel Murray / Stringer (Getty Images)

From robotic grocery delivery carts and fresh mobile apps to excessive chicken wing consumption, consumers (and companies) have leaned into on-the-go eats during the last year. Now, Yum! Brands restaurants will take orders via text message and social media following its acquisition of Tictuk Technologies, an Israeli tech startup, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, and Habit Burger Grill, announced the acquisition on Wednesday. Yum! said in a statement that the tech firm focuses on “conversational commerce,” including software systems that will allow customers to order through WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, SMS, QR codes and email.

Per the company’s statement, Yum! has successfully deployed Tictuk’s platform in approximately 900 KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell restaurants in 35 countries, although all of the participating restaurants are currently outside of the U.S. The platform could be in the U.S. soon, though—the statement explains that the company “plans to scale and offer Tictuk’s omnichannel ordering and marketing capabilities to more markets and franchisees globally.”

In participating areas, Tictuk can be used for pickup, delivery, or dine-in orders. The acquisition is part of an ongoing Yum! initiative to capitalize on the surge in online ordering sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not that the brands are necessarily hurting for cash—WSJ reports that the company made $17 billion in online sales last year, about a 45% increase from 2019. I’m sure the new technology will be a boon for the brands—but on-demand chalupas at my fingertips sounds downright dangerous.

Staff writer @ The Takeout, joke writer elsewhere. Wrangling dogs and pork shoulder in Chicago.

DISCUSSION

I swear I remember Domino’s doing something like this, where you’d text them a pizza emoji and it’d trigger an order for your “Easy Order” linked to your phone number on their site.

No reason they can’t do something like that by sending a taco emoji to Taco Bell or a burrito emoji to Chipotle or a burger to McDonald’s or a peach to the Moonlite Bunny Ranch...