krispy kreme kiosks

Krispy Kreme cuts drive-thru journey times by 22% with Theravada

Krispy Kreme offers a unique product. Its doughnuts not only taste amazing and melt in the mouth, but they create an emotional connection with consumers. When a consumer engages with Krispy Kreme, it brings a smile to their face and lifts the mood, that’s what makes it stand out from the crowd.

Krispy Kreme serves three distinct groups of customer: office heroes, caring sharers and smart snackers. In recent years, and even more so with the emergence of COVID-19, its audience’s expectations have been changing; consumers want companies to provide a faster, safer service. For Krispy Kreme’s younger customers (aged 17-24) drive-thrus represent the ideal way to engage with the brand.

Krispy Kreme Drive-Thru Goals

In 2020, the drive thru was thrust forward with a fresh wave of popularity as COVID-19 diverted consumers from in-restaurant dining and walk-up takeout. The world’s leading brands, Krispy Kreme among them, reacted quickly, adapting operations to make it easier and safer for customers to enjoy their menus.

For Krispy Kreme, the virus arrived at a time when the company was already examining its point of sale offering. It had been noting a shift among its younger customers towards digital ordering, and specifically the drive-thru. As pandemic restrictions were enacted, that trend accelerated. With in-store ordering limited, it was essential that customers knew of and felt comfortable with the alternative ordering options on offer.

While Krispy Kreme had 10 existing drive-thrus, its success was curtailed by the data it collected through the service. This made setting service KPIs tricky; was unable to accurately evaluate speed of service, or identify areas of improvement. It therefore sought a digital solution to enhance its brand presentation, measurably accelerate service and grow its average transaction value.  

In seeking a fresh solution, the team had a tight set of criteria; it wanted to work with a partner that could take complete ownership of the project, upgrading five sites initially. The successful company needed to align closely in terms of its own values and beliefs, and would be expected to deliver the project within a firm timeline and budget. With a history of managing exceptional digital projects for Krispy Kreme, Theravada was a natural choice.

Rob Craig, Theravada’s MD commented on their selection: “We are delighted to have a long-standing and trusted relationship with a brand as inspiring and exciting as Krispy Kreme. This is a company that believes in digital innovation and isn’t afraid to step forward and lead the way; there is no doubt in these difficult times, being prepared to invest, to think and do things differently, requires courage and vision. We consider it an honour and a privilege to be working in partnership with Krispy Kreme and in helping to deliver these very positive outcomes


Roll-out of the upgraded digital drive-thrus was fast; each site was completed in just three days, and despite the challenges provided by COVID, every deadline was met.

Starting with five of the ten sites, Theravada thoroughly analysed the existing drive-thrus, drawing up plans to overhaul, not just the technology in place, but the visual presentation of each. All analogue signage and printed collateral was removed and replaced with light boxes and illuminated signage to enhance brand visibility. Rather than installing traditional menu boards and two-way communication systems, Theravada recommended digital wall mounted cabinets; these could be installed at greater speed and without the need for any disruptive groundworks.

Furthermore, Theravada installed loop vehicle detection, connected with HME’s ZOOM Nitro Drive-Thru Timer, making it possible for Krispy Kreme to collect and analyse drive-thru data for the first time. 

Krispy Kreme Drive-Thru Results

Krispy Kreme set a high bar with objectives, and KPIs included a 10% increase in average transaction value. Two months since the final site went live and it’s well on track to meeting those targets. Visibility of the drive-thru at each site has greatly improved, while the fresh signage is presenting a modern expression of the brand to audiences.

Vitally, in that time, the ETE (end to end time) has reduced by 22%, from 3.14 minutes to 2.38 minutes, while revenue growth from the enhanced digital drive-thrus is 3 times higher than those not yet upgraded (30% versus 9%).

Commenting on the new drive-thrus, Emma Colquhoun, Chief Marketing Officer, Krispy Kreme said: “Our new digital drive-thrus have given us insight into an area of our business that we simply didn’t have before. The information we are gathering is allowing us to optimise our operations and give our customers a faster, smoother drive-thru service than ever before. What’s more, we have greater confidence in the brand we are presenting and believe the visibility of our drive-thrus is now comparable with other brands in the area, this is giving passing traffic a greater clarity of choice.”

The positive impact has also been felt internally. Krispy Kremers (staff at the company) have been given extensive training on the new digital drive-thru technologies and have been extremely positive in their feedback. With operations also reviewed and renewed, they feel the solution has equipped them to better respond to customer demand.

“Making such a significant investment at what is known to be a challenging time in the hospitality industry might seem unusual, but we have a strong belief in the future of drive-thru for our business. Its importance in the UK is continuing to grow and we see it being a vital part of our strategy in the coming months and years.

“We’ve been delighted with Theravada; they’ve proved the ideal partner for this project, they have delivered in all areas: cost, time and trust. Our journey with the team is ongoing, it doesn’t end with the technology installation, and we look forward to continuing along this road with them.”