Big data is one of the biggest economic game changers of the 21st-century. Technology giants such as Amazon and Microsoft were some of the first companies to use big data. The benefits of big data in the technology sector are clear. However, big data is being widely used in the restaurant industry as well. Did you know that many companies are using Big Data to improve their online marketing?
Restaurants have a high failure rate, especially during economic downturns. Data driven solutions are helping them hone their competitive edge. Abraham Zaiderman lists some reasons many restaurants are investing it.
Identifying Peak Business Hours
A growing number of restaurants are using services such as OpenTable to manage their reservations. While these services very convenient for both customers and restauranteurs, the real value is hidden in billions of lines of ones and zeros.
Restaurant marketers can look at reservation histories to determine when establishments are the busiest. This is an important benefit, because the trends are often surprising and don’t always align with anecdotal observations.
This is important for a number of reasons. It enables managers to ensure their restaurant is adequately staffed at all times. It also minimizes food waste by preventing them from thawing and preparing food that won’t be consumed before it goes bad.
Updating Menus to Reflect Changing Customer Tastes
Customer preferences change over time for a variety of reasons. News stories about health risks associated with certain types of food, fad diets and social media trends all play a very important role. Unfortunately, keeping up with evolving customer tastes can be very difficult. Some restaurants haven’t changed their menus in at least a decade, because they don’t feel they could confidently predict these changes.
Big data makes it much easier to keep up with these trends. Restaurants can collaborate with vendors to find out what types of foods are ordered the most. They can also ask for data on the locations and types of restaurants that order this food, so they can see if there is a lot of overlap between the trends and their target demographic. Some experts have stated that big data can accurately forecast sales over the course of 18 months or more, although models may be less reliable over longer time intervals.
Noticing Small Variables that Influence Sales
Lots of small variables can have a profound impact on sales. The weather, rising unemployment rate and new commercial construction are just a few of the factors.
Identifying the causal relationships between these variables and restaurant sales can be quite challenging. According to Inc. Magazine’s Shama Hyder, services such as Marketing Vitals are helping them find the links.
While shrinkage isn’t as big of a concern in the restaurant industry as retail, it is still costly to restaurant owners. Employees can steal food while the manager isn’t around or make certain types of meals for themselves that aren’t allowed under the company food plan allowances. Big data can help them identify employees that are more likely to be responsible for shrinkage. However, it will need to be used in conjunction with more innovative inventory management systems that can detect changes in inventory based on weight and cross-reference them against customer orders. This will allow them to pinpoint the period when the goods were used and whether they were used for a real order.