- Chick-fil-A added online ordering for its full menu on Monday after a test in Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., over the summer. Previously, customers could only place orders for catering via the brand's website, according to a company release.
- The feature is similar to the brand's app, which was introduced in 2016. Customers who place their order on the website are provided with the options of collecting their orders via drive-thru, carryout or curbside. Loyalty members can also accumulate points through the new feature.
- Digital ordering has become table stakes in the pandemic environment, and a robust ecosystem that includes both a mobile app and a website is critical. Twenty-nine percent of diners place an online order a few times a month, 25% report they do so a few times a week and 22% do so once a week, according to a Toast report. With this new point of access, Chick-fil-A could capture a new set of lucrative customers.
Chick-fil-A seems to be late to the game when it comes to online ordering, especially considering the robust digital ecosystem the chain already had in place. The restaurant added dine-in mobile ordering nationwide in 2019, for example, allowing customers to order from the table without waiting in line. The company also started accepting mobile payments through its app in 2014.
Meanwhile, many of its quick-service peers began embracing online ordering well before the COVID-19 pandemic set in, a move that has helped those brands through the crisis. KFC, for instance, introduced its online ordering capabilities late last year. Chief Information Officer Christopher Caldwell told Restaurant Business the chain saw "a big uptick in orders right off the bat."
That uptick has no doubt accelerated during the pandemic, as digital orders across the board are up significantly amid dine-in restrictions. In fact, during parent company Yum Brands' Q2 earnings call, CEO David Gibbs said the chain's launch of kfc.com for pickup and delivery ordering "contributed to a fantastic quarter," and the chain saw its highest average sales per store in the brand's history in early May.
Brands that already offer online ordering are also working to enhance this channel. During Wingstop's Q3 earnings call, for example, CEO Charlie Morrison said the company continues to bolster its user experience from online ordering, which the company "believe we can accelerate given our experience through this timeframe." Chipotle also just unveiled its first digital-only restaurant, which offers pickup and delivery only for customers who order in advance via the chain's app or website.
By expanding into online ordering, Chick-fil-A has created a new path for customers to engage with its loyalty program, which could deepen diner ties to the chain. The chicken restaurant already earns top marks for brand intimacy and engagement, and this new offering could sharpen its competitive edge.