In a South African context, the KFC team prioritised catering to the youth market. But, to do this, KFC needed to reach young people on a platform they already loved. They needed an effective digital communication solution that would make interactions as seamless and cost-effective as possible while staying true to the brand’s spirit.
“We realised we had to come up with a truly innovative digital solution that would turn the eCommerce space in South Africa on its head while delivering a seamless customer interaction,” says Cremeandran Govender, Senior Digital and Technology Manager at Yum! Brands, the local representative company for KFC. “However, we knew we had to overcome some serious barriers in the form of exorbitant data costs that prevent consumers from downloading an app or keeping it installed on their mobile device.”
After consulting and working closely with the teams at Yonder Media and CM.com, KFC was ready to break new ground by expanding digitally. The company introduced the QSR South African market to the KFC WhatsApp chat-commerce channel, allowing KFC fans to place their order via WhatsApp and collect their food in-store ─ a technological first in South Africa.
The team at Yonder Media built and refined the eCommerce system and functionalities, underlining what is available within the chat ordering system. CM.com provisioned access to the WhatsApp Business API, as a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider. These two tech partners ensured that the ordering platform was 100% automated and leveraged natural language processing in communication with KFC’s customers.
Govender and his team felt the pressure of launching this digital innovation. They wanted to make sure they had the right partnership in place to ensure there was no delay in communication and that their technology partner could scale according to evolving demands.
“Working with the team at CM.com has been seamless. From integrating the tech solutions and using the analytics dashboard to upgrading and maintaining the platform’s infrastructure, CM.com has been exceptional in looking after KFC’s needs,” says Govender.
For the very first time, South African consumers get to choose their meals and place their KFC orders on the same channel. The steps involve adding KFC as a contact, saying “Hi” on WhatsApp, choosing a meal option, selecting a restaurant that offers the service, and then paying for and collecting your order in-store.
“WhatsApp gives us exactly what we’ve been looking for: a cost-sensitive, secure, and reliable solution that makes it possible to interact and engage with the people who love our brand in a direct, personalised, and targeted way,” says Govender.
Given that WhatsApp is used by more than two billion users monthly in over 100 countries, it has become one of the world’s most popular apps for personal and business conversations. With its significantly lower data usage requirements, WhatsApp is the perfect channel for the South African market, giving local brands the opportunity to interact with their audience without excluding anyone.
“Strengthening our brand position by making the most of this powerful solution was a no-brainer for us. WhatsApp made sense because it meant we could extend our services to a channel that’s already familiar and preferred by people, making our service even more efficient,” continues Govender.
Its immense user base and user-friendly functionality make the WhatsApp Business Platform a viable option for larger enterprises. This platform follows the pay-to-use approach and allows for multiple users, providing opportunities for both sales and customer service teams to interact with customers. Most importantly, it levels the playing field for South African business owners in accelerating their digital journey.
“While WhatsApp is mostly used for communication, it’s an indispensable channel that should be put to work in the world of eCommerce. Our research supports this and shows that the app holds immense growth potential for businesses,” says Stewart Mackay, Team Lead for New Business and Account Management at CM.com.
Integrating CM.com’s WhatsApp Business Platform and Yonder Media’s chatbot technology has helped KFC elevate its customer journey by creating a value-adding interaction that not only caters to customers’ individual needs but also captures the tone and messaging of the KFC brand.
Stuart Steedman, Chief Technical Officer at Yonder Media, had this to say about WhatsApp’s role in eCommerce:
“For the Yonder Media team, it’s always been imperative to deliver technology-based solutions that are available to everyone. This is exactly what WhatsApp has brought to the table as a platform already installed on most South African mobile users’ phones and used regularly. Because it’s fast, useful, and relevant, WhatsApp has been the clear winner all along.”
Stuart believes that WhatsApp, and by extension CM.com as a business solution provider, has been able to fill a vacuum that hadn’t been considered before. Because so much of eCommerce is Euro-centric in its approach, there are assumptions about hardware and data capabilities that aren't necessarily true for the South African market.
With the number of active users growing exponentially, the first-to-market WhatsApp chat-commerce channel has become immensely popular. As a result, an urgent upgrade of KFC’s high throughput capacity (HTC) line for its WhatsApp customers was needed. Due to the volume of WhatsApp interactions and the month-on-month growth in the channel’s transactional engagement, page views, and point of sales (POS) system engagement, CM.com had to facilitate more bandwidth to cater for the additional strain on the HTC line.
KFC’s WhatsApp chat ordering service is currently only available for ‘click and collect’, but the brand plans to integrate delivery as part of this channel rollout. Additionally, consumers will be able to pay securely via WhatsApp.
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