What some people think is creepy about technology, Stacy Peterson thinks is cool.
The chief information officer for Dallas-based Wingstop Inc. shared how the 873-unit quick-service chain has improved online and mobile ordering, which is integrated with its new point-of-sale system, rolling out systemwide. About 65 percent of units have the new POS, and 90 percent are expected to have it by year’s end.
Under the old system, customers could order online. But restaurants had to run a laptop attached to a printer and key in every order. It was awkward and inefficient.
Now online orders go directly to the POS and the kitchen. Order accuracy has improved, the customer experience has improved, and Wingstop is able to collect customer data to develop more meaningful marketing messages around things like the sports team they support or their ordering history, Peterson said.
The POS and online ordering upgrade began in fall 2014. During the March 26-ended first quarter, online ordering comprised close to 16 percent of total sales — rising from 11 percent in the first quarter a year ago.
It’s also higher than the average for the quick-service segment. Peterson said online orders in the mid- to high-single digits are more typical.
Wingstop has a big opportunity to grow online orders. About 75 percent of the chain’s orders are for takeout, and about half of those come into restaurants by phone.
But when customers order digitally, they tend to spend about $4 more on average. The anxiety of having another customer behind them in line is removed, and they’re more likely to add extra dipping sauces or sides as a result of upsell prompts in the system, she said.
The next step for Wingstop will be more social ordering. The chain will give customers ads they can click through to order on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Slack.
The chain already has a sophisticated social listening program that collects both good and bad things said about the brand online, and identifies lifestyle trends and music tastes of its fans.
Wingstop’s investments in technology won’t stop there.
Next month the chain will begin testing a new EMV payment system, and soon will begin testing Apple Pay.
Delivery, however, is one tech feature Wingstop doesn’t plan to explore.
“Every brand has to determine the opportunity or risk,” Peterson said.
But with a menu of made-to-order chicken wings and fries, it may not work from a food quality standpoint.
“Our food is not engineered to sit in a box for 30 minutes,” she said.