How Mobile Technology is helping restaurants gain the upper hand

Thursday 7th September

By Tom Dewhurst

Ordoo is an app for busy people to save time collecting food and drink. You can order ahead at cafes, coffee shops, lunch spots and bars to beat the queue and earn loyalty rewards. Please get in touch with Tom to find out more about mobile ordering.

As an industry based on face-to-face interactions, customer service is everything in the hospitality industry. So does mobile technology hinder or enhance the customer experience? We spoke to Tom Dewhurst, CEO of hospitality tech startup Ordoo about why he thinks adding a digital touch to customer interactions is the future of restaurant and cafe service.

In the F&B industry, understanding and anticipating a customer’s needs has always been of paramount importance to the  business. Keeping them happy will keep them loyal but we have since come a long way  from simply remembering that extra shot in a cappuccino. Today, technology promises a plethora of audience insights from top-level demographic breakdowns to a detailed attitude analysis.

But why the need for technology in an industry based on face-to-face interaction?

The truth is, times are changing and so are customers and their dining habits. What was once considered an occasional treat reserved for birthdays and special occasions has now become a weekly occurrence. Down in part to a greater amount of disposable income and an “on-the-go” culture, there is now an overwhelming choice of casual dining options serving high quality food at budget prices.

With a street food stall on every corner, more options means more competition. As a result, it’s now much harder to maintain a customer’s attention and loyalty which makes it more important than ever to harness the power of technology to personalise customer experiences.

Coffee shop

Mobile ordering apps might just provide the answer.

Already set to be a 38 billion-dollar industry by 2020, brands are realising the value that mobile apps bring to both their operations and customer engagement. For example, Starbucks – one of the earliest adopters of mobile ordering technology – saw an increase in sales with mobile ordering contributing to 10% of total transactions at their high volume stores.

But it’s not just the big brands – smaller venues are catching on too with many independent coffee shops developing their own solutions such as London’s Grind. Coffee shop by day, bar by nighttheir app has an order-ahead functionality and even includes an integrated loyalty card.

At the moment, if customers pay via cash or card, the restaurant receives no information on who they are or what they’ve ordered. If they order via their smartphone, they’re inadvertently building up a purchasing history that can be analysed. This is fast becoming a must-have Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. Some experts even warn that small business may be at risk of losing out and falling behind if they don’t adapt, noting that the restaurant industry is around 15 years behind retailers in using online ordering.

So how exactly does mobile ordering help businesses understand customers better?

Mobile ordering platforms store information such as ordering preferences, frequency and times. Unlike humans, remembering this information does more than just to anticipate whether an order is going to be for brown or white bread. When analysed effectively, it can used be to create a powerful, personalised marketing channel.

However, processing various data sources can be a daunting task likely to scare off many operators. The beauty of technology is it can break down this data and present it at the right time, for instance, presenting a customer’s profile on each order ticket. This enables staff to engage customers using their name and initiate personal conversations based on their favourite orders, time since last order, total order history and so on. “Hey Jim, we’ve not seen in you a couple of weeks, why haven’t you been getting your regular latte?” This is a common example of how personalised re-engagement can encourage customers to keep coming back.   

The potential of personalised marketing extends to other areas of the customer journey. Crunching historic order times and product data enables customers to receive tailored lunch and coffee recommendations around the time they might be getting hungry or thirsty.

This kind of personalised communication has proven to be effective. You only need to look at Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign which reversed declining sales – all because people could buy their own “personalised” coke bottle. Personalisation has also been reported to increase marketing spend efficiency by 10 – 30% which presents a cost-effective way to gain and retain customer loyalty.

Far from being creepy, a more personalised approach is what most customers have now come to expect – 79 percent of US and UK customers to be exact. Those of which are perfectly happy to share their data if it means they can get a tailored experience.

It’s all part of a shift in how we view brands. Influenced social media influence, the current climate of distrust in institutions and the rise of content marketing has led to it  no longer being purely a product-based relationship. Instead, it has now become a two-way conversation that we judge on the beliefs and opinions being represented by a brand. So much so that 57 percent of people won’t buy a brand because of its social stance. Couple this with the deluge of advertising that consumers are bombarded with every day, it’s no wonder that in today’s world they expect something a little more different. Something with the personal touch.


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