Gone are the days that consumers used to have to pick up a phone to order a pizza. These days, all it takes is a couple of taps on a smartphone to bring a hot pie to your front door.
Now Subway is jumping into the action. The sub shop on Tuesday launched a chatbot for Facebook Messenger at more than 26,500 domestic locations, allowing its tech-savvy customers to place an order with ease.
“It’s really about connecting and engaging with customers,” Carman Wenkoff, chief information and digital officer for Subway, told CNBC.
Subway is by no means the first restaurant to allow customers to order via Facebook Messenger. Taco Bell and Domino’s were among the early adopters of the technology and for good reason. More and more consumers, particularly younger ones, are gravitating toward digital ordering and it’s a boon for restaurants.
Across the industry, mobile order checks could be as much as 20 to 30 percent higher than a traditional in-store check, according to Andrew Feinberg, a principal at consulting group Deloitte.
Digital orders have increased by 45 percent since 2014, according to The NPD Group, and now account for nearly 1.7 billion in foodservice visits. While data isn’t available for chatbot usage, it is a small, but growing portion, of that number.
Wenkoff said that the company is relaunching its entire digital platform from the ground up, starting with the Messenger bot.
“Facebook messenger has got over 1.2 billion customers using it now and the target customers overlay perfectly with the demographics of our customers,” Wenkoff said. “It allowed us to dabble more in the innovation space… we just thought it was a perfect marriage between Facebook and Masterpass.”
While Subway’s current mobile order and pay app gets tens of thousands of users each day, its Facebook page has more than 25.4 million likes, giving the brand a chance of converting its followers into customers.