Review

KFC ordering
  • KFC is now taking orders, for collection in store, via a WhatsApp channel.
  • Using the chatbot, you can claim the same "online exclusive" offers you'll get for ordering via the KFC website.
  • Those are genuinely worth up to 25% off, compared to what you would pay if you walked into a store and ordered over the counter.
  • If you can order via the website, though, you'll cut out a lot of annoyance.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

KFC South Africa on Wednesday announced it was taking orders via WhatsApp, in what it claims to be a first for quick-service restaurants in South Africa.

The KFC chatbot is standing by, on the number 087 153 1074, where it is "[c]onnecting with, and catering to, the youth market" that may find data expensive, the chain said in a statement.

The offers on the WhatsApp channel are identical to those on the KFC ordering website, a review by Business Insider South Africa found, down to savings of up to 25% on some bundles. Those offers are now available to people on WhatsApp package bundles who may not be able to use the website or, as KFC puts it, simply want to order using the same platform on which they are discussing dinner with friends.

But it is more annoying than ordering on the website.

Though the chatbot claims to be able to accept payment via the WhatsApp channel, that function is not yet turned on. The system is for click-and-collect only, with no delivery option in sight. Slight response delays – and headline specials that are not available – also make the WhatsApp ordering system a pain to use.

Here's what we found when we tried to order KFC via WhatsApp.

The specials really are as good as advertised, worth up to 25%

KFC saving

On Wednesday there were two headline offers on the WhatsApp channel, pushed via enticing images while the rest of the menu was in text only: a Streetwise 5 meal for R70, and a four-Colonel Burger combo for R119.70. That is an 18% saving on the Streetwise meal, and a genuinely free burger on the Colonel combo (an effective 25% saving) compared to what you'd pay in store.

Those are also the "online exclusive" prices available if you buy directly on the KFC website.

There's no chat in this 'chat commerce'; you'll be punching in numbers

KFC natural language

KFC says its system "leverages natural language processing", which suggests you can talk to it as you would to a human.

This is not the case.

If you want to order efficiently, you'll find yourself punching in the numbers assigned to menu options, which sometimes means scrolling back up the screen to hunt out the right digits.

It is a little annoying when you have to confirm your location for no obvious reason...

Please confirm your location, for some reason

... but not nearly as annoying as when the special you are trying to order is not available at your local KFC

Not for you

We could not secure the Streetwise 5 special – a simple combination of KFCs two mainstays, fried chicken pieces and chips – at the KFC restaurants close to the Business Insider South Africa offices in either Cape Town or Johannesburg.

Once your order fails because it is, somehow, not available, you have to start from scratch and risk having the same thing happen again; there is no menu of what is available at your chosen location.

If your chosen order is available, you are asked to consent to marketing messages

KFC promotions

When you successfully secure your meal, you get a sudden burst of emoticons

Success!

As of Wednesday, the KFC website listed 39 stores from which WhatsApp ordering was not possible:

  • KFC Witbank (Watermeyer Street)
  • KFC Brakpan
  • KFC Jouberton (Tower Mall)
  • KFC Ben Fleur
  • KFC Mhluzi Midstone Mall
  • KFC Yarona Shopping Centre
  • KFC Ennerdale
  • KFC Brixton
  • KFC Mahwelereng Shopping Centre
  • KFC Klerksdorp Matlosana Mall
  • KFC Safari Gardens
  • KFC Malamulele Masingita Crossing
  • KFC Klerksdorp Wilkoppies
  • KFC Canary Walk
  • KFC Steilloop
  • KFC Phahladira
  • KFC Bp Meadowlands
  • KFC Dalton
  • KFC Alex Mall
  • KFC Melrose Crossing
  • KFC Tshilamba
  • KFC Mahlakung Centre
  • KFC Thavani Mall
  • KFC Moutsiya Mall
  • KFC Tibanefontein
  • KFC Mokopane (Nelson Mandela Dr)
  • KFC Sibasa Noor Centre (Thohoyandou)
  • KFC Tzaneen (Danie Joubert Str)
  • KFC Phalaborwa
  • KFC Duiwelskloof
  • KFC Klerksdorp (OR Tambo Street)
  • KFC Potchefstroom (Nelson Mandela Rd)
  • KFC Rustenburg (Nelson Mandela Dr)
  • KFC Rustenburg (Beneden Street)
  • KFC Kwagga Plaza
  • KFC Moloto
  • KFC Witbank (Mandela Street)
  • KFC Potchefstroom (Govan Mbeki Str)
  • KFC Hartbeespoort (Sediba)

Get the best of our site emailed to you every weekday.

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.