Ray Camillo – Founder & CEO, Blue Orbit Restaurant Consulting
Every industry is taking advantage of cutting-edge technology in some form or fashion, and the fast casual dining space is no exception. Fast casual restaurants are uniquely positioned to benefit from incorporating consumer behavior and smartphone device detection to serve up personalized menu items.
To start, I recently sat next to a woman on a plane ride from Raleigh to Atlanta who told me she works for an analytics company that is using data much like Amazon or Google to anticipate a consumer’s next purchase. The twist with her company (SAS) is that they’re targeting fast casual dining.
Restaurants have long tried to use dossier systems imbedded in seating software like Open Table, Zomato or Resy. These systems rely on manual information entry, whether volunteered by the guest in the reservation-making process or by servers and hosts who glean the info through interacting with the guest (i.e. they remember that the guest likes Manhattans or that it is someone’s birthday) and are diligent enough to return to the system’s CPU and enter it. These systems are only as good as the participant’s willingness to accurately enter the data.
On the verified purchase side, credit card processing companies like Upserve are offering analytics based on information pulled from credit card purchases such as dining frequency, transactional time of day, and correlation to social media…all of this for free in exchange for the restaurant’s credit card processing business. What my Delta-flight-row-mate told me was they were merging analytics tied to individuals based on all purchases made through anything they can get their hands on (website searches, product searches on retail sites, etc.) to predict preferences related to the fast casual restaurant’s menu…and then tie it either to imagery that scrolls on the digital menu boards above the cashier or to prompt the employee to recommend something.
For example, if a consumer recently purchased a Big Green Egg, they frequently look up Myron Mixon BBQ videos on YouTube, they also recently purchased Jeff Phillips’ book “Smoking Meat” …and they enter an Arby’s…and if Arby’s has this technology, the menu board might switch to the images of the Arby’s Bourbon BBQ Brisket Sandwich just as the customer is detected in the store. It reminds me of the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report when the talking advertising posters personalized their voiced marketing pitch to Cruise’s character as he walked by based on a retina scan.
Thenext best thing to retina scans are smart phones… and it’s virtually assured that the majority of humans are carrying one. The smart phone carries incredibly powerful data about the behavior of its owner and SAS aims to pull it out and use it to beyond simply flashing an image on the side car of your Google search of the shoes you’re thinking about buying.
That’s just one example of how fast casual dining spaces can use cutting-edge technology to improve the guest experience, but there are many other ways restaurants use technology.