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Scott Lamb to Speak on Cornell RRM Roundtable

Scott Lamb, Olo’s VP of Account Management will be speaking on customer-facing restaurant technologies at this week’s Cornell Restaurant Revenue Management Roundtable. Scott's team is focused on helping large restaurant brands drive revenue and create new digital connections with their customer base within their existing Point of Sale, Payment, CRM, and Loyalty infrastructures.

Restaurant Revenue Management Roundtable

The Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) is pleased to present the Restaurant Revenue Management Roundtable October 2-3, 2014. We have invited a select group of industry leaders representing different areas of the hospitality industry.

The roundtable will cover the following topics:
Restaurant Pricing, Menu Design, Role of Customer-Facing Technology, Restaurant Performance Measurement, and Customer Relationship Management and System Integration.

Roundtable Chair:
Sheryl Kimes PhD, Professor, Services Operations Management | Menschel Distinguished Teaching Fellow, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration

Online ordering provides the holy grail of customer-level data

Originally published in QSRweb

By Noah Glass, Founder & CEO

My high school chemistry class taught me the difference between a “by-product” and a “co-product.” Both are secondary and derived alongside the main product, but the co-product has unique inherent value, whereas the by-product may not. Tech experts have added to my Chemistry 101 education, recognizing that co-products also can be sold or reused profitably.

Restaurant industry analysts have asked me to explain the recent surge in popularity of digital ordering among quick-service restaurant and casual dining restaurant operators alike. In doing so, I’ve thought a lot about the co-products of my own product, digital ordering for restaurants. It turns out the co-product of digital ordering is also restaurant operators’ holy grail: customer-level data. The primary product adds great value to a brand – customers receive orders faster and feel like VIPs when they skip the line, and automated order taking and tender allow for greater transaction capacity. But the digital ordering process also unlocks a deep understanding of brands’ best customers and unearths marketing insights that yield game-changing results. 

One such co-product is being able to visualize hungry customers’ physical locations when they’re thinking about your brand and your food. No, this doesn’t require Minority Report-like “pre-cogs.” These insights are derived from digital ordering searches. Ordering is compiled in the cloud, and our company creates a heatmap that shows where customers are when they initiate the digital search for a specific restaurant or food item. National restaurants can benefit from a city-by-city search, while local operators can get data down to the street level.

When compared against your current store locations, a geographic overlay of brand demand would give the development team incredible clues as to where to locate your next store, based on the key metric of digital demand. Now, what if you could layer in additional metrics, like which devices these would-be customers were using for their search and how usage compares to that of your loyal customers? For instance, you may realize that users of the latest Android device represent a meaningful audience profile for your brand. In that case, you might seek out digital order search hotspots that originate from the same kinds of devices.

Digital ordering represents a growing percentage of sales when an ordering platform is in place. Even for brands in which digital ordering represents a small percentage of total sales, digital ordering search traffic and order traffic represents a meaningful sample size from which brands can glean valuable insights about their best customers.

Digital ordering data is just one customer data stream in this growing field of big and little data. Companies like Beanstalk Data and Zipscene are changing the way organizations individualize data and communicate offers. Thanks to their work, the thick Sunday circular full of printed coupons may not be recognizable to coming generations. Customer profiles gleaned from a wide range of data are getting smarter. They provide insight into both on- and off-premise behaviors, including past orders, daypart habits, and guest survey responses. Nimble innovators like Food Genius are mining over 50 million menu items to help brands better define their item pricing strategy – and sharing some fun insights about how we eat, state by state, in the process.

Moreover, it’s not just the operator that benefits from insights into individual customer behavior. The customer gains the potential for new experiences and money-saving offers. Knowing that Mary only picks up lattes after 4 p.m. in the middle of the week, never orders from the breakfast menu, and has opted into text updates is a powerful insight – and could be a boon for Mary when she is offered a free coupon to try coffee cake with her latte every Wednesday in October.

By understanding more about who our customers are, where they are, which devices they use, and more, brands can better serve these customers and find more potential customers who share the same characteristics. That’s the holy grail for success in a food service landscape that is increasingly competitive.

Beanstalk Data Announces Strategic Partnership with Olo

CHARLOTTE N.C., September 16, 2014 – Beanstalk Data, a B2C CRM software provider, announces today a strategic partnership with Olo, the leading provider of mobile and online ordering for restaurant groups like Five Guys Burgers & Fries® and Baskin-Robbins.

Described as a “game changer” by marketing professionals in the restaurant industry space, Beanstalk Data’s SaaS platform allows brands to connect multiple silos of customer data into one user-friendly database where they segment customers, launch targeted multi-channel campaigns, and analyze results in real time.

Beanstalk Data will integrate its CRM Marketing Master with Olo’s digital ordering platform. Olo’s SaaS based commerce platform allows over 6 million end-users to Skip The Line ® and receive faster, more accurate, and more personal service at the restaurants they love.

“Selecting best in breed partners is important to Beanstalk Data,” said Scott Nowokunski, CEO of Beanstalk Data. “Olo has made digital ordering easier for an ever growing number of diners while also demonstrating that their platform scales in support of those diners.”

Read more

The “Uberization” of money

The mobile payments conversation just got way more interesting. Good thing Olo COO Matthew Tucker is speaking tomorrow at CTIA Super Mobility Week!


Charles Napier, Managing Director, Incode Consulting
Matthew Tucker, Chief Operating Officer, Olo
Aunkur Arya, GM Mobile, Braintree
Safwan Zaheer, Director of Mobile Payments & Commerce Strategy, Barclaycard
Andrew D’Souza, President, Bionym

If you talk to fans of the Uber car service, they often say the best part of the ride is the intuitive mobile application and no need to pay the driver. The process of paying is invisible. Amazon and Starbucks are creating this kind of “no payment transaction” experience with their Prime program and mobile app. Increasingly, a compelling user experience makes the act of payment disappear. What does this mean for the future of money, payments, and customer experience? How can companies and financial institutions respond and capitalize on this trend? What will it take to drive rapid adoption with Millennials?

Read more on The Money Event site.

Surge pricing is the next wave of digital ordering

Originally published in SmartBlogs

By Noah Glass, Founder & CEO

If you followed this summer’s public debate surrounding ride sharing, specifically the car service Uber, you might have heard the term “surge pricing.” The term incensed high-ranking government officials, but surge pricing illustrates the most basic of economic concepts: When demand is high, charge more.

Airlines and hotels have been surge pricing for years. But other than a “market price” for fresh fish or other rare commodities, the restaurant industry has largely stayed away. All this could soon change as mobile ordering gains momentum. Uber raises pricing on the fly based on real-time data gathered via mobile devices, the primary source for ride requests. Digital ordering for restaurants allows a similar opportunity by enabling fluid pricing. If, for example, a concert lets out at Madison Square Garden, Uber might charge higher rates to encourage drivers to come to the area. The local burger shop might also experience a flood of mobile orders. Algorithms via mobile device data could calculate that demand and create real-time price increases for the restaurant, while direct connections to POS systems allow changes in price to be displayed across the digital ordering interface — website, mobile app or in-store kiosk. Moreover, all this can be accomplished without human intervention and in real time.

Varying price to drive demand is nothing new to restaurants — just look at the wave of deep discounting in recent years. Similarly, daily-deals services like Groupon offer discounts to drive traffic. Even daypart-based pricing, charging a lower price for a cheeseburger at lunch, for example, is a way operators change pricing to drive demand. So what’s new about surge pricing? In surge pricing, the arrow of causality reverses direction. Demand drives price, rather than price driving demand, a reversal that could reap rewards for the industry.

Managing supply and demand based on real-time data isn’t just a moneymaking tactic (as Uber is quick to point out). Uber manages its finite number of cars by incentivizing its drivers during peak times — an incentive made possible by dynamic pricing.

These days, the restaurant industry is smack in the middle of the minimum wage debate. What if fast casual workers could earn extra pay? Surge pricing could create a scenario in which operators subcontract trained workers who earn a fixed percentage of sales, just like Uber. Using mobile ordering, an operator could see a traffic spike and blast out a message to his workforce offering greater pay if workers pitch in during a real-time surge in demand. The combination of digital ordering and surge pricing could make that a reality. Surge wages could also help ensure consistency in an operator’s profit margin, while maximizing employee wages and throughput capacity.

Demand-driven pricing also can support marketing programs that smooth out the demand curve. Imagine pushing promotional offers to loyal customers during certain off-peak times of day. I’m not talking about a premeditated Early Bird Special or Happy Hour. I’m talking about a real-time knowledge of surge demand and forecasting excess capacity. Operators with multiple units could level off demand throughout a city, showing a range of prices at locations across a metro area at different times of day (think about flying out of a metropolis like New York City and choosing flights from JFK, LaGuardia or Newark). That may seem silly for an individual order, but it could be meaningful to the operator and the customer in the case of a catering order in which the customer is less sensitive to which franchise prepares the order for pickup or delivery.

The bottom line is this: The combination of surge and off-surge pricing could positively affect the bottom line, allowing restaurants to push as much demand through their four walls as possible, every day, while managing labor costs and employee satisfaction. It’s hard to believe, but all this operational magic is in your pocket — and the pocket of your customer. It’s as simple as mobile ordering.

5 insights from mobile restaurant customers: the new shopper mindset

Originally published in QSRweb

By Jackie Berg

Every day, more people are relying on only mobile devices to make purchase decisions – even when a PC is nearby. xAd, Telmetrics, and Nielsen recently tapped insights from over 8,000 Smartphone and Tablet users in the 2014 “Mobile Path to Purchase” study, which is a fascinating read. The study analyzes mobile purchase funnels and behavior across four key industries: telecom, restaurant, auto, and entertainment. Here are five key research insights foodservice operators will want to take note of:

1. The majority of your mobile customers are choosing where to eat without the help of a desktop.
60% of restaurant consumers in the study used only their mobile devices in making a purchase decision. Mobile-only usage for restaurants trumped all other categories in the study – the next closest being entertainment, where 40% reported using only mobile.

2. Most mobile users only have a general idea of what they’re looking for at the start of their search. Surprisingly, restaurant mobile users know exactly what they’re looking for just 25% of the time. Most claim to have just a general idea, leaving an open window for limited-time offers to push their cravings in a specific direction.

3. Device usage climbs steadily during the day and peaks during dinnertime. The dinner segment is an opportunity to explore options outside of a normal routine. Tablet usage has the steepest dinnertime climb, presumably after people return back home.

4. Dining decisions happen quickly on mobile. 64% of mobile users in the restaurant category (the highest studied category in terms of immediacy) are looking to complete their purchase and be on with their day within the hour. QSR and fast casual brands offering added conveniences of credit cards and favorite orders will have a better shot at staying top of mind with customers looking for a self-service experience.

5. A big segment of your customers are now spending more time on mobile than desktop. We’ve recently learned about how Smartphone sessions have eclipsed desktop sessions – the same is true, as it turns out, for the restaurant segment specifically. The restaurant segment also had the highest mobile conversion rate in the study, with 80% of restaurant users reporting a transaction.

These findings are a wake up call to brands investing millions in their web presence and still designing their mobile experience as a secondary, afterthought initiative. Read the full study at mobilepathtopurchase.com.

Teaching in-store and digital ordering to play nice →

The majority of customers are ready for mobile ordering. Is your restaurant ready to serve them?

Restaurant operators: ever worried about keeping order flow in balance? Olo founder & CEO Noah Glass gives his advice in FastCasual.

Olo’s Greg Shackles to speak at Xamarin Evolve 2014

Today Xamarin announced their lineup of expert-led training sessions for this year’s mobile development event, which will be held in Atlanta on October 6-10th.

Register to hear Olo’s own Greg Shackles present on testing and continuous integration!


Cousins Subs Enhances Online Ordering Website and Mobile Apps With Olo →

Cousins saw their average check increase by 33% during the test period. Check out the web, iOS, and Android apps today!