According to The NPD Group, online ordering grew 117 percent during the first two years of the pandemic. This sea change sent operators scrambling to implement off-premises channels like mobile ordering, curbside pickup, and third-party delivery in order to meet demand.
Now, most brands have made the adjustment, and these off-premises channels have become omnipresent. This has created a new series of challenges. Most can be boiled down into this: How does a brand elevate its customer service experience to the next level within the confines of a digital-first world?
In searching for the answer to that question, Coby Berman, co-founder of Radar Labs, Inc. suggests operators revisit what made consumers gravitate toward mobile ordering in the first place: convenience. In fact, a recent study from Intouch Insight found that 68 percent of consumers ordering food from a restaurant via a mobile app did so because they prioritize convenience.
Convenience often boils down to something that feels personalized and frictionless, Berman says, and these are areas where brands will have to excel in order to stay competitive into the future.
“It’s no longer good enough to just have the best burger and fries in town,” Berman says. “If the digital experience that’s paired with that is bad—for example, if every time I show up my food is not ready when I arrive, or if my food is cold—then a brand is missing out on a critically important component of establishing brand loyalty in 2022.”
Radar has been working with many of the top quick-service brands—at least five of QSR magazine’s Top 50 brands, in fact—to help them leverage geofencing technology and improve the customer experience. Here’s a closer look at three different ways geofencing technology from Radar can improve outcomes for restaurants and consumers alike.
Shorter Wait Times
Radar works like this: the software is installed inside a brand’s mobile ordering app. Through location infrastructure using first-party user location data, Radar is able to establish where a consumer is once they have opted-in to location sharing. Once an order is placed, Radar tracks location events as a customer approaches the restaurant, and the kitchen is alerted to fire the order at the appropriate time.
So why is this so pivotal? According to that same study by Intouch Insight, temperature of food was the third-most pivotal factor for consumers making a mobile order from a restaurant, trailing only order accuracy and speed of service.
“To pull off a great online-ordering experience is incredibly challenging,” Berman says. “It’s all about getting the right items out to the right people at the right time. It’s why all of these digitally innovative brands are turning to location technology to make that easier.”
Food Waste Reduction
One of the biggest wins for brands using Radar is a reduction in food waste. Knowing where a customer is, and when they are en route to the restaurant, greatly increases the chances that a restaurant will create an order that matches the standards of the restaurant and consumer alike, reducing food waste in the process.
“A lot of the companies we work with have internal standards that say they toss food and have to remake it after, say, 10 minutes,” Berman says. “They no longer consider it fresh. That is a double whammy: now you have to cook food you already cooked again, while you also are wasting food.”
This is especially pivotal now: according to a recent Datassential survey, 89 percent of operators have experienced inflated food costs in 2022. That means any lost revenue due to food waste is going to be felt that much more acutely.
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Radar can also help brands send push notifications in a way that feels timely and relevant. For example, say a customer often leaves the office at 5 p.m. on a Thursday and orders food. Radar can help identify that pattern so that brands can market to that individual in a way that creates a personalized connection.
Operators might think of it like this: in the pre-digital age, consumers frequented restaurants where the person behind the counter knew their name and order. Radar helps brands accomplish the digital version of that relationship.
“The smartest companies in the quick-service world are delivering not only great speed of service, and order accuracy, and all of that,” Berman says. “They are also doing things that surprise and delight their customers. You see this with companies like Shake Shack: they say, ‘Hey, you’re a loyal member. We want to let you in on a new menu item for our app users, and it’s available to you and nobody else.’ Knowing your customers’ habits is a critically important aspect of being able to do things like that.”
Radar isn’t the only company offering location technology to quick-service restaurant brands, but Berman likes to believe it’s the best. He points to three things he believes differentiate the brand from competitors.
First, he says the brand places the utmost importance on protecting the sensitive data that it is dealing with. All location data is anonymized, and Radar doesn’t capture personal identifiable information (PII). Radar helps its customers to collect the minimal amount of data possible to power user experiences. Moreover, Radar has built privacy features, including custom data retention settings, rule-based access controls, and SSO—to put it simply, this is something Berman says his team has thought about a ton, and it’s why they offer best-in-class privacy.
Secondly, he points to his company’s experience working with some of the top brands in implementing its solution at scale. “Tools need to be easy in order for operators to actually like and use it,” Berman says. “This data has to seamlessly flow with the rest of their tech stack—the tools they use for push notifications their loyalty platform—it has to be quick and easy, and we have a ton of experience in that regard.”
Finally, Berman says he’ll put Radar’s location accuracy up against any competitor’s. The geofencing technology tracks movements down to a couple of meters. And yet, perhaps most importantly, Berman explains that Radar aims to provide all-in-one location technology that will deliver something that’s easy for operators to understand: repeat business, and a return on investment.
“Location is one of those things that, at Radar, we make it feel not intimidating,” Berman says. “There’s a right and wrong way to use location. Our entire approach around what we’ve built, we’ve figured out how to do this in a way that doesn’t feel intimidating. We’re using it to help brands create a great customer experience. And the ROI is pretty impactful once you start using it. It’s all about reducing friction for the end customer and earning their repeat business.”
For more on implementing Radar into your tech stack, visit the company’s website.