Outside Insights | November 2017

How Restaurant Execs Can Use Big Data to Increase Sales

Online ordering platforms are a gold mine of data.
Online ordering platforms are a gold mine of data.
Restaurants can gather data from their POS system, loyalty provider, customer surveys, and more. Thinkstock
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Data analytics and business intelligence are driving business decisions today more than ever. Why? Knowledge is power, and there are more and more avenues to collect data than ever before. Take online ordering platforms, for example. These platforms are a gold mine of data and can augment a restaurant company’s existing analytics. Collecting consumer-driven data leads to better business decisions, which ultimately generates additional sales revenue. What business wouldn’t want to become the “fly on the wall,” astutely observing consumer preference and behaviors as they unfold in real-time?

Whether the ordering data is sent directly to restaurant companies for input into their own databases or the data is sent to their Google Analytics account, marketers can analyze that information to determine everything from what menu items sell best online, what promotions are working, which day part has the highest online ordering rate and more. If marketers aren’t interpreting consumer habits and preferences, they are not utilizing their data to its full marketing potential. 

On a side note, the issue might be out of a marketer’s control. For example, some restaurant companies are lagging behind with outdated technologies, while others have the innovation in place, but they don’t have the tech-savvy personnel who are well-schooled in analytics. In these instances, restaurants can look at simplified dashboards or reports that pull their data together in a digestible, actionable way. Either way, marketers must start somewhere to capture and leverage big data.

The good news is that there are countless data sources. Restaurants can gather data from their POS system, loyalty provider, customer surveys, etc. One of the best places to start is with their online ordering software. 

“The key is getting all of your data in one place where it can be managed logically. We utilize Google Analytics and our online ordering provider, orderTalk, does a live feed of all of our online ordering data into our Google Analytics account. This allows us to track digital marketing campaigns and consumer conversion funnels,” says Amy Schuster, director of IT at Jason’s Deli. “In addition, they provide a daily [secure] feed that is used for our CRM database and outgoing marketing efforts.”

What is a marketing executive to do with all this big data?

Working with one or two data sources can streamline the sheer volume of big data available. For example, marketing executives who want to increase their restaurant company’s online food sales in 2018 would want to extract and analyze certain data trends from the company’s online ordering system in 2017 to assess the brand’s strengths and weaknesses. What is the consumer really demanding, and is the brand effectively promoting its food products to meet that demand? A close look at menu item popularity, sales volume at various locations, popular (and unpopular) day parts or days of the week, seasonal guest traffic, repeat consumer base, demographics, loyalty program usage and online check averages all help to tell the story.

Once marketers understand that story, they can make data-driven decisions that move a particular needle. For example, if data reveals that online ordering during the Wednesday lunch time day part is consistently slow, a savvy marketer may consider a weekly Wednesday lunch special, available as an online ordering promotion only. Not only does this promotion have the potential to increase transactions from current customers, it also has the potential to attract new customers.

And with a superior online ordering system, marketers also have access to advanced sales-driven functionality options such as location specifications, menu customization, up-selling, special offerings, etc.

While many factors play into ROI, one sure path to stronger sales, higher check averages, decreased overhead costs, and happy customers is through the optimization of the data a restaurant already has.  A great source for this data can be a restaurant’s online ordering platform.

Patrick Eldon is the chief executive officer for orderTalk, Inc. Since joining orderTalk and launching it as a software and service provider in 2004, Eldon has served as CEO. Under his leadership, orderTalk has provided digital ordering solutions for the restaurant industry worldwide offering expedient, dependable and secure online ordering systems.  As CEO of orderTalk, Patrick leads the sales, technology, projects and marketing teams responsible for implementing the company’s strategic direction. Under his leadership, orderTalk has unveiled Erica, a patent-pending universal artificial intelligence plug and play POS integration. The easy-to-install software will input third-party delivery food orders directly into a restaurant’s POS system without the need for employee intervention or tablet monitoring. He can be reached at [email protected].