Wingstop is jumping into social ordering, accepting orders within Facebook Messenger and Twitter after seeing strong growth in wing fans placing orders online.
The 900-restaurant chain is rolling out so-called social ordering, which allows patrons to place orders from within Facebook Messenger or Twitter rather than having to leave either app to place an order by phone or online.
"We're taking a giant leap forward in the restaurant business to allow people now to conversationally order their meal from us without ever leaving Twitter or Facebook," said Wingstop Chief Marketing Officer Flynn Dekker.
The additional ordering methods come as online ordering has been growing rapidly. Phone calls are still the main way Wingstop gets orders, followed by walk-ins and online orders. But at the end of the first quarter, more than 15% of orders were placed online through the chain's app, site or mobile version of the site, a gain of about 5 percentage points from the year before, Mr. Decker said.
For now, Facebook Messenger and Twitter are the two ways to order Wingstop through social conversations. Wingstop plans to add other methods "fairly soon," Mr. Dekker said, pointing to SMS and then probably voice-activated technology such as Amazon Echo.
Facebook Messenger users -- there are more than 900 million globally, and counting -- can send a message to Wingstop to begin a conversation that can include details such as store locations and orders. On Twitter, users can tweet "order" or "#order" to the company to start an order. Soon the system may serve up messages to prompt orders, such as if it sees a Twitter user posting about being hungry for Wingstop wings.
"In a sense, this is a social media hack," Mr. Dekker said of the overall social ordering process. "It really allows us to pinpoint, very surgically, guests who are ready to make that decision and we just have to give them a prompt."
Wingstop began promoting the process on Facebook and Twitter on Monday.
Wingstop is working on the social ordering process with Conversable, which helps companies create automated chat experiences on messaging apps including Facebook Messenger and Twitter, as well as through Slack and SMS.
"There's a major commerce disruption coming where customers are going to interact with brands directly on the messaging apps we use every day," Conversable Co-Founder and CEO Ben Lamm said in a statement. "Wingstop's millennial audience is at the forefront of the messaging trend and our platform is enabling Wingstop to meet their customers in the channels where they already are."
Texas-based Conversable, co-founded by Mr. Lamm and Andrew Busey, began quietly and is getting some public attention this week as Wingstop's social ordering processes roll out.
Mr. Dekker said Wingstop looked at the success Domino's has had with various ordering techniques when thinking about the project.
"I think the gold standard in the restaurant business right now is Domino's. They've really hung their hat on being technology-forward and they've done a great job," Mr. Dekker said.