We’ve already seen a change in consumer spending habits within the retail sector, with more brick and mortar stores closing as shopping methods change. We are now also seeing a shift within restaurants as well, as consumers change the way they dine. People want an experience, whether that is something new and exciting, or simply great customer service. Here, Kelly Fairchild, Business Development Americas, explains how the same analytics, which are helping retailers to meet new challenges, can also be used by restaurateurs to increase traffic and successful conversions.
What retail analytics technology is currently being used in the restaurant sector?
The recent National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago raised some interesting points regarding the changing face of consumer behavior, and, perhaps more importantly, how brands must now adapt to these. We are seeing that more people want to eat at home, which is readily available at the click of a button with the ease of delivery and mobile ordering. Interestingly, according to the National Restaurant Association, 37 percent of restaurant operators believe the most important area of technology development in the next five years is customer ordering. Currently, only 32 percent of restaurants offer mobile payment options, but expect this to increase significantly.
The industry has also seen a rise of ‘virtual restaurants’, which offer delivery only. Green Summit Group took advantage of this gap in the market and currently occupies a space with nine other restaurants sharing a central kitchen, with a steady flow of people coming to pick up orders from the same address. This trend answers the question of the difficulties of hiring great chefs, with lower margins when food is eaten away from a physical store. Most importantly, however, is the fact that people want convenience – on their terms.
It’s now absolutely crucial that brands understand their customers by gathering as much data as possible, and customizing the experience according to their needs. A great example of this is the Cali Group, which operates Caliburger along with five other technology platforms. It has introduced kiosks with facial recognition, which can remember a customer’s order, with AI robots that prepare the food in the kitchen, along with gaming to connect with guests with one another. Another example of this innovation is Bear Robotics, which also introduced a robot that can learn a restaurant layout, recognize the difference between a human and a table and can even say, “excuse me”.
How can retail analytics focus more on the customer experience?
Despite the hype around technology, robots, and data, there was a common theme discussed that technology is there to enhance the experience, and not completely remove the human touch. John Miller of Cali Group explained that the robots can do the preparation more efficiently than a human, but customers still want a human server to connect with. For retailers and restaurants, the focus will be on a combined effort to integrate both technology and humans into the customer experience.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that it is still highly important that brands understand their customer. More restaurants are adding kiosks, with 41 percent of millennials stating they would use one, but other demographics, such as Baby Boomers, preferring to order via a person. The message is simple; don’t just add technology for the sake of adding it, it has to fit your business.
This is where using data and analytics in the restaurant sector can take traffic and conversions to another level. For example, do you know what time of day you are the busiest? Do you know when your lines are the longest and when customers are most likely to abandon it? Are you aware of how layout can be optimized to prevent bottlenecks? Ipsos Retail Performance provides this type of intelligence to its clients so they improve the customer experience.
As futurist Daniel Burres said, “legacy thinking is worse than legacy tech. Don’t think of either or, think of both.” It’s an exciting time and I’m looking forward to seeing how many restaurants can seize the opportunity to create a truly amazing experience that increases customer traffic, while also keeping them engaged.
To hear more about how using analytics in the restaurant sector can optimize the customer experience, contact Kelly or book a demo with the team.
Business Development, Americas
Ipsos Retail Performance, Chicago