Have You Added Data Science to the Menu Yet?

We’re smack dab in the middle of a whole new world for the restaurant industry. While the National Restaurant Association predicts sales will rise 20% to $789B in 2021, that’s still below the $864B the industry saw in sales before the pandemic. At the same time, wholesale food prices are 12.7% higher than they were in 2020, and labor costs are rising too, with restaurants increasing their wages and offering signing bonuses to secure talent.

That’s why we can’t help but ask — have you added data science to the menu yet?

Part of this whole new world is whole new interactions with customers. Back at the turn of the millennium, pizza and Chinese were basically the only meals you could have delivered right to your door. Now, everything from burritos to filet mignon is available at the tap of a finger. Millennials and Gen Zers preferred the convenience of prepared meals years ago, and the pandemic only strengthened this desire for convenience, and has done so across all generations.

Fortunately, all of those new types of interactions give you near-endless opportunities to collect data.

Every time a customer interacts with you — whether it’s in your app, in your restaurant, on your website, in a text message, or in an email — he’s telling you a little bit about himself. For example, does this specific customer prefer to order online and pick up curbside? Does this customer always order the same thing? Does this customer spend special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries, with you? The more you can learn about him, the more opportunities you have to upsell, cross-sell, increase his frequency, and increase his average order value.

After all, customers expect you to base their experience on individual preferences like these.

According to Celtra’s recent findings, 45% of QSR customers say that personalized offers and discounts entice them to spend more per order and visit more often. Interestingly, only 32% say that a loyalty program creates these same enticements — which proves why it’s so important to make your loyalty program data-driven.

Additionally, 45% of QSR customers say that email is the most relevant platform for them to receive a brand’s content and news updates. That’s great because email gives you a long list of engagement metrics to track. Every time you click “send”, you can rest easy knowing that a ton of individual preference and purchase data will be the unofficial reply.

As powerful as these individual insights are, they create a whole new type of power when you combine them with data insights from your other customers. 

The aggregate will enable you to identify trends, build marketing segments, and determine who’s most likely to move from sporadic guest to loyal customer, along with the best ways to encourage them to do it. In the end, you’ll wind up with a fully-optimized marketing spend, which will help combat the increases you’re currently seeing in food and labor costs.

Of course, none of this can happen if your data sources are siloed. 

Adding data science to your menu means adding technology that can link everything together. That way, you end up with data that tells a story and helps you reveal strengths and weaknesses across not just your marketing initiatives, but your business operations as a whole.

Here are some examples:

  • Combining your POS data with your CRM data will help you define audience segments and nurture customer loyalty.
  • Combining your POS data with your loyalty data will tell you about specific guest preferences.
  • Combining your POS data with your inventory data will help you find opportunities to reduce food waste and identify seasonal and/or local ordering trends.
  • Combining your POS data with your offer management data can tell you when to offer specific discounts and to whom, along with your campaign ROI.
  • Combining your POS data with your customer review data can highlight successes and failures in your menu.
  • Combining your POS data with your in app and online ordering data can help you identify trends and determine if there’s a difference between on- and off-premise experiences.

Now that you’ve seen just how powerful data science can be, hopefully you’re hungry for all the insights you can dish up!