Smoothie King pilots text-based ordering

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Smoothie King is beginning to roll out a text-to-order solution.

The world’s largest smoothie brand is testing a new solution for placing mobile pick-up orders at local stores.

Smoothie King Franchises Inc. is piloting a text-to-order platform in Chicago and Jacksonville, with the goal of offering a more modern customer experience while driving top-line digital sales for franchisees. Through a partnership with cloud-based restaurant management technology provider HungerRush and its OrderAI solution, the company is enabling customers in its test markets to use a four- or five-digit code to place and pay for their order with the nearest Smoothie King location via SMS text message, and then visit the store to pick up their smoothie.

From an operational standpoint, through the use of artificial intelligence (AI), OrderAI learns and understands Smoothie King's menu and begins to track preferences and predict orders – with the goal of ultimately increasing the likelihood that guests will order again.  Once an order is placed via text message, it comes through like any other order at the store level, reducing the amount of time employees spend fielding phone orders and improving order accuracy by what HungerRush estimates to be a 99% increase.

The text-to-order pilot launch comes on the heels of other new technology solutions Smoothie King has introduced in the past year. These include a healthy rewards app, online ordering for pickup and delivery, multiple third-party delivery partners, and the introduction of tablet devices for drive-thru locations.

Previously, the company said it had focused on refining its digital-ordering platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic to better align with customer purchasing behaviors to maintain its development momentum. Since their creation and introduction at the beginning of the pandemic, the company says its online ordering, curbside pickup and delivery capabilities have continued to grow.

Unifying payment processing
In addition, Smoothie King recently selected the unified commerce cloud platform from ParTech Inc., a subsidiary of Par Technology Corp., to manage secure, compliant payment processing services across its store network. As part of a systemwide payments processing upgrade, Smoothie King had been seeking a single payments partner that would provide a streamlined underwriting and approval process, frictionless onboarding, competitive pricing, and centralized support.

Ultimately, Smoothie King wanted to substantially improve the payments experience for both its customers and franchisees. The focus of the company in 2022 is to continue ramping up unit-level economics and system-wide growth through the introduction of new consumer-facing technology, product lines, and tools for franchisee success. 

"At Smoothie King, we are 100% dedicated to two things – providing our guests with more ways to enjoy our smoothies, and increasing sales and profitability for our franchise owners," said Chris Andrews, CIO of Smoothie King. "The rollout of our text-to-order platform is just another way that our brand continues to innovate and stay one step ahead of our competition. We are the first to market in the QSR space for this feature and look forward to launching it in markets across the country throughout the year."

Founded in 1973, Smoothie King Franchises Inc. is a privately-held, Dallas-based franchise company with over 1,300 locations worldwide.