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16 October 2018

Restaurants utilising big data

Restaurant owners are stepping up the competition, through the powerful tool of consumer data, which allows them to improve their services by understanding customer preferences and even dietary requirements via mobile apps and online reservation systems.

Starbucks, one of the biggest chains in the world utilises the mobile apps to improve customer satisfaction. At first their mobile app could only be accessed by Starbucks Rewards loyalty members, although they found that this only obtained the data of existing and loyal customers, which is why they opened the app up to everyone in March this year.

The coffee chain also required customers who visited stores during “Happy Hour” to register on the Starbucks app. As well as introducing email sign-up for customers who wished to access in-store Wi-Fi.

Kevin Johnson, the Chief Executive at Starbucks informed investors that Starbucks obtained data from an additional 5 million customers in just 90 days, increasing their “digital relationships”. He also discussed their ongoing growth, stating:

“Over the next three to four years, we’re going to consistently find ways to acquire new customers and now engage deeper.”

A number of companies are aiming to delve deeper in to more personalised service in order to increase customer experience and footfall. Including the well-established Italian restauranteurs, the Altamarea Group which operates 16 restaurants around the world, where they offer their customers a tailored service via SevenRooms’ online reservation system.

Jonna Gerlich, the group’s managing director of marketing and sales discussed how they utilise their customer’s prior dining experience to improve service. She says that if a staff member has access to a customer’s order from a previous restaurant, they may offer a similar preference to the customer’s satisfaction.

One food vendor that is aiming to delve deeper is US-based salad chain, Sweetgreen Inc, who intend to improve their own mobile app in order to understand customers’ needs and preferences. Sweetgreen’s co-founder Jonathan Neman discussed the need to obtain detailed data:

“We want to crack the code around food decisions.”

“We’re trying to understand what’s underneath food choices: Do you like beets because of their sweetness or crunchiness?”.

Sweetgreen intends to completely upgrade the app in the next few years, providing customers with food recommendations and tailored nutritional information based on their thoughts about certain foods.

Mr Neman also stated that “The challenge for any personalized experience is how you create a sense of discovery. There’s a huge opportunity to do that in food.”.

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