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Is Voice Activation the Next Big Ordering Trend?

October 13, 2017

An estimated 25 percent of 16–24-year-olds use voice search on mobile. Is your brand ready?

Alexa: Order a pizza. Pay for it. Oh, and eat it for me.

Well, the burgeoning world of voice activation isn’t quite there yet. But, much like mobile ordering became the go-to place for millennials and Gen Z to score their meals, voice-activated ordering is fast evolving into fast food’s next big thing.

The numbers are mind-boggling. An estimated 25 percent of 16–24-year-olds use voice search on mobile, reports the Global Web Index. Some 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, estimates comScore. A whopping 50 percent of people are now using voice search when researching products, says the website Social Media Today.

A lot to swallow? Perhaps. But for quick-service and fast-casual chains with one eye on sales growth and another eye on the future, voice-activated ordering already is in fourth gear. Major chains from Domino’s to Pizza Hut to Wingstop to KFC are embracing voice activation—though none claim to have perfected it.

Few chains are pushing harder in the world of voice-activated ordering than Wingstop, the Dallas-based chain known for its chicken wings. With takeout being such a huge part of Wingstop’s business—making ordering ahead increasingly common—it launched voice-activated ordering early in 2017.

The key target is millennials. “Voice activation has become common in their homes and on their phones,” says Kevin Fish, vice president of digital technology at Wingstop, which has 1,031 locations globally and is in all 50 states.

Wingstop was an early adopter of digital ordering, rolling out the platform in 2009. Fast-forward to today and digital ordering across all channels—including voice activation—now accounts for more than 20 percent of sales, Fish says. Its recent move to use Amazon’s Alexa “forced us to rethink the ordering process from the ground up,” he says.

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