Food Service

Food Traffic: Using IT and Big Data to Increase Sales

October 20, 2017

Jennifer Powell

CMO of Installation & Service Technologies (IST)

Ever heard the saying the more you know, the better you do? Companies can never have too much knowledge, too much background or too much research when planning how best to accomplish goals and increase profit.

With this mindset, we’re lucky to live in a time of big data. Large amounts of knowledge are at our disposal to help corporate America learn more about its consumers. And speaking as an IT service provider, the data is literally at our finger tips.

For the food service industry, we have seen IT and big data play a pivotal role in helping restaurants know their customers on a deeper level, and as a direct result, opening new revenue streams for increasing sales and food traffic. Through the IT systems restaurants install, such as in-store Wi-Fi, large amounts of data can be gathered about customers’ habits and preferences. Restaurants’ IT and marketing teams can then read this data, notice its trends and make an action plan to increase sales.

Any time a restaurant offers an online resource for customers, like Wi-Fi, rewards programs or mobile applications, customers are creating a digital footprint of their preferences, habits and interests. Restaurants can then use analytical programs built into these offerings to access data and define customer groups and personas. The more familiar the restaurant becomes with its customers, the better it can target them to increase sales.

In addition, exploring customers’ habits and preferences allows restaurants to have a predictive analysis advantage. If you can predict the likely actions of customers, you can build relationships with them on a new, personalized level. As a restaurant leverages predictive data to tailor its services, advertisements and other offerings to fit customers’ needs, customers notice their journey with stores and their relationships with the brand begin to develop more trust. Big data is essentially the best loyalty program a restaurant has to offer, as it creates a significant profit-making advantage.

For example, an analytics tool can create targeted in-store messaging through the restaurant’s Wi-Fi services. When guests log on to the restaurant’s free Wi-Fi, they accept the terms of use and are sent to a landing page of customized content, such as new menu items or special events. Big data can allow restaurants to infer which digital platform customers prefer to interact with the brand and which special offerings are out-performing others. With this targeted approach, restaurants would increase visibility of the promotion, and therefore, increase the sales that come as a result.

Beyond promotional announcements, restaurants can use big data for:

  • Inventory Management – By correlating buying trends and demographic data, restaurant owners can better predict what menu items will sell and be able to stock inventory accordingly.
  • Staff Scheduling – Different restaurant locations have peak hours at different times. By analyzing sales data, demographic data, and regional trends you can better predict when additional staff will be needed.
  • New Location Planning – Using demographic data gathered through loyalty programs, social media and other survey methods, a restaurant can know where to place new locations or franchises.
  • Feasibility Planning – By better understanding the purchasing patterns of a guest, a restaurant is better able to determine their needs. Given this, a restaurant can determine the feasibility of new endeavors, such as new dishes, menu category, delivery programs or the need for a brand refresh.

If you want to talk about how we can help your restaurant utilize analytics to increase sales, give us a call today.

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