Here's How Wendy's Is Driving Customer Experience Through Digital

Brought to you by WBR Insights

The fast food business is highly competitive - especially here in the United States. Options in places such as the UK are fewer, but the US has a ton of brands to choose from - from McDonald's and Burger King to Taco Bell and Wendy's. This creates an environment where customer experience is everything, and those brands which fail to meet the needs and expectations of their clientele are likely to find themselves in dire straits before long.

Let's be frank for a moment: People generally aren't visiting a fast food joint because they want a top tier gourmet dining experience. They are, however, looking for decent food at an appropriate price and to have a fun and relaxing environment in which to enjoy it.

The best and most successful fast food brands understand the importance of customer experience all too well, and Wendy's is using digital technology to polish its customer experience to a mirror shine.


Wendy's has been successfully improving its customer experience at almost every level of the dining journey. The chain's recent marketing around its burgers being fresh and never frozen is a perfect exemplar of that - showing that the brand understands quality expectations are shifting and they must shift with them.

However, here in 2019, the fast food brand is focusing on growing its digital ordering and delivery capabilities. The last year has seen Wendy's digital and delivery sales explode by 325 percent. Digital sales only make up two percent of Wendy's overall sales in the US, but the brand wants to see that hit ten percent by 2024.

Aside from providing customers with the speed and convenience of digital and delivery ordering options, there is also a bottom-line motivation for focusing on these areas. For delivery sales, orders are typically between 50 and 60 percent larger than in-restaurant ones, and for mobile ordering, it's 20 percent.

Delivery times are, on average, less than 30 minutes. However, Wendy's believes it can shave three to five minutes from this time through a new POS integration system. The new system will enable digital orders to be sent directly to the restaurant in real-time by creating a seamless connection between the Wendy's smartphone app and its physical locations. To give more delivery options than ever before, Wendy's, which currently partners with DoorDash, will expand its partnerships with Uber Eats and Grubhub next year.

"Speed and convenience and really driving consistency of operations are core themes," said Wendy's CEO, Todd Penegor. "You think about how you can continue to drive speed. The digital journey is a big one. How do we drive folks into mobile ordering? How do we drive awareness on mobile ordering? What we do see is when folks mobile order the check size is about 20 percent higher. Those are just great opportunities to continue to connect to that next generation of consumer and create a better experience and gather even more data to connect with them into the future."

Data is key in this new landscape. Wendy's is also expanding its capabilities in this area and using it to drive even deeper customer experience focused decisions.

Fast Food Data

One of the biggest advantages of digital ordering and engagement platforms are the huge volumes of data that they produce. This data can be leveraged by brands to gain an ever-greater understanding of their customers' wants and needs and use that insight to make real change.

Wendy's has been using data to understand what its customers want in terms of new menu items. The brand recently announced that it will be taking another run at serving breakfast items in 2020 - the last time was back in 2014. McDonald's has become famous for its breakfast menu, with many customers stating it's the only time they use the restaurants. Wendy's has been analyzing its own data and market-wide information and concluded that the time is right to explore these options once again.

Another expanding demographic that Wendy's has identified through data is those who desire plant-based proteins. There are approximately 1.6 million vegans in the US today and the sales of plant-based food items have increased considerably over the last few years. Wendy's has recognized this desire and has stated that it's looking to introduce plant-based options to its menu soon.

"We would want to do it the 'Wendy's Way,'" said Penegor. "Something that's unique to Wendy's, something that's not overly complex in our restaurants, but something that really hits for the consumer with the appropriate nutritional profile and something the consumers are delighted with, but our operators are equally happy with."

Final Thoughts

By leveraging the power of digital technology, Wendy's can offer a superior customer experience while simultaneously gaining insights that allow it to bring new products to the customers who desire them.

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