Yum! Brands Acquires Tictuk, Escalates QSR Tech Stack Arms Race


Behind the barricades of the headline-grabbing chicken sandwich “wars” is a quiet and much bigger QSR battle involving technology stacks.

Yum! Brands Inc. disclosed this week that it has acquired Israeli omnichannel ordering and marketing platform Tictuk.

Users of Tictuk can place orders and interact with brands through a variety of social media and chat channels—including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, SMS, QR codes and email.

The Tictuk deal followed the March 2 announcement that Yum! will acquire the artificial intelligence-based consumer insights and marketing analytics business of Kvantum, Inc.

Meanwhile, Brinker International’s “virtual” brand It’s Just Wings said yesterday that it’s now integrated with Google Search and Google Maps for meal ordering and pickup. The move expands the single-channel, delivery-only relationship It’s Just Wings has had with DoorDash since launching last year.

Yum!’s KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell chains already use Tictuk’s technology platform in approximately 900 KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants in 35 countries.

Asked by Marketing Daily when Yum! plans to deploy Tictuk in the United States, a Yum! rep said the brand “has not yet set a specific date and is not sharing its roadmap.”

Tictuk “has a proven track record of driving increased conversion, loyalty and sales by making it even easier for customers to order our brands through their preferred social media or conversational channel,” Yum! chief digital and technology officer Clay Johnson said in a news release.

In 2020, Yum!’s digital sales hit a record $17 billion—roughly a 45% increase over the prior year.

In the deal with Kvantum, Yum! said it plans to combine the company’s artificial intelligence and machine learning approach to understanding human behavior with the assets of Collider Lab, which Yum! acquired in 2015.

Meanwhile, since Brinker launched It’s Just Wings, it’s been a delivery-only offering with DoorDash.

Now, people who search for "It's Just Wings near me" can place orders for pickup at more than 1,000 Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy locations where It’s Just Wings food is prepared. Google Pay is among the payment options.

In a Jan. 27 earnings call with financial analysts, Brinker president and CEO Wyman Roberts said that the year 2020 “fundamentally changed us as consumers."

Citing advancements in ordering technology along with new delivery and pickup options, Roberts added, “And now that we have experienced greater convenience and control over our experience, we are not likely to give it all back.”

Asked by Telsey Advisory Group analyst Robert Derrington about consumer data It’s Just Wings gets from DoorDash, Roberts said, “DoorDash is a great partner. They share a lot of information in broad terms. They don’t share individual guests’ contact information."

He added, “We are working with them to be more aggressive and to partner at a higher level with regard to trading loyalty data or at least giving guests the opportunity to become Chili’s loyalty guests through the DoorDash app.”

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