According to a recent National Restaurant Association’s State of the Industry Report, one in three restaurant customers surveyed say they’re using more restaurant technologies now compared to two years ago. As technology becomes an increasingly integral part of the consumer dining experience, the lines between restaurant marketing and IT operations have become blurred, making it more important than ever for the two departments to work together to drive success.
To what extent does the marketing expert need to understand technology, and the IT expert understand the customer buyer journey? In the early days of restaurant marketing, the C-suite would hire various marketers and agencies to drive customer acquisition—one to handle the TV ads, another to handle social media, a third to handle graphics and design, and so forth. But, as customers began going beyond the restaurant’s four walls and ordering from the comforts of their devices, suddenly restaurant brands were given data at the intersection of IT and marketing: digital customer data that allowed brands to better track a customer’s journey, better personalize the experience and as a result, better understand what marketing efforts moved the needle. Marketing departments have generally gotten smaller yet provide more targeted efforts. They are more efficient but are also relying more directly on IT and technology partners to drive insights and restaurant profitability.
And with this shift, the role of the IT specialist has also evolved. Since online and mobile ordering is one of the fastest growing drivers of restaurant profitability, acquiring actionable data has become an important part of the IT specialist job description. New areas are critical to success—understanding how the restaurant’s mobile and online ordering platform integrates with the POS system, how the sales funnel translates to automated marketing efforts, or understanding how the digital ecosystem works. In addition to the shifting relationship between marketing and IT, these efforts also must work well with operations teams; all of the technology being implemented has to work at the restaurant level and among the front-line team. Is it easy to use? How complicated is it to manage? The effort must be to connect all of these teams seamlessly.
Enter the technology partner. It is unrealistic to expect the IT specialist to be a marketing expert, or an operations executive to understand the customer buying journey, or for marketers to have a depth of IT knowledge. As such, technology partners can be brought in to complete the team, bridging the gap between internal teams, providing “best in class” knowledge and ideas and allowing decision makers to gain access to data that can influence the direction needed to move the brand forward across many platforms.
The Top Reasons Restaurants Invest in Digital and Online Ordering Tech:
Remove Human Shortcomings from The Equation. Technology doesn’t have the same problems that a human may face. When you were ordering your sandwich last week, did the cashier ask you if you wanted to add guacamole, get the same order as last time or add that cookie for a $1 more? Maybe. But with technology, you know those questions are being asked 100 percent of the time, allowing a restaurant to maximize the dollar amount of every customer order, while also creating greater satisfaction. By being able to optimize the customer experience to each person, restaurants are able to up-sell, cross-sell, expedite re-orders, and drive higher margins each and every time.
Better Gross Margin. Speaking of guacamole, if your company knows that certain add-ons are the highest gross margin, you can put them at the forefront of every online or mobile ordering experience. You can influence the top line, and more importantly, the bottom line.
The Secret Sauce. Using data gathered from each customer’s online buying experience, restaurants can see how a product may correlate to another. Tech can reveal that a sauce pairs well with the traditional burger based on consumer ordering trends. Through digital ordering, we are able to take that flavor pairing, and make it a suggestion to the online restaurant order. Not only does it provide the customer with a preferred flavor profile, but it also benefits the restaurant brand by getting to up-sell the high-margin secret sauce, resulting in not-so-secret revenue increases.
Tech Online Impacts Offline. Often times the data for online ordering can also work on the front line. Restaurant brands have seen benefits from taking the data or results from customers online and institute suggestions in-restaurant. It’s like having a real-time survey of your customers telling you what they want at any given time period. This allows your marketing team to make quick decisions that can benefit not only the brand, but the local restaurants as well.
Securing the right technology partner to support digital and online ordering efforts can be the missing link for a restaurant brand. Since the tech partner can decipher customer data, the brand’s internal team can create a cohesive digital buying experience for restaurant guests that impacts not only the systemwide bottom line, but also for local restaurant franchises or locations. When marketing, IT, operations and technology partners operate together, a dream team is formed. One look at ROI will tell you that.