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Integrated Digital Loyalty Is Dining Table Stakes For 2021

We’re all pretty clear on what happened this year in mobile order-ahead (MOA) dining and its twin, the “order to eat” (OTE) phenomenon. Only, it’s not a singularity. This is the way things are now. What directions it all takes depends on consumer preference and business response.

The PYMNTS December 2020 Order To Eat Tracker(R) done in collaboration with Paytronix, looks at the issue through the loyalty lens, as beefing up these programs is having a transformative effect on customer sentiment, order size, frequency of visits — in a word, “loyalty.”

“We have data that shows how loyalty programs can return 10-times multiples on the initial investment, but to see that, you must have the right measurements in place,” Paytronix CEO Andrew Robbins told PYMNTS. “With credit card token data, we can compare the same consumers pre- and post-joining their loyalty programs, and every time, this analysis shows that we increase guest purchasing behavior by as much as 29 percent.”

Getting near a 30 percent growth rate from one’s loyalty program is exactly what the doctor orders in the time of COVID-19, and the new Order To Eat Tracker(R) offers prescriptive insights on supercharging loyalty as part of the post-pandemic overhaul of basically everything.

Listening Skills Pay Off

Part of having a great loyalty program is being a good listener and, at commercial scale, that’s the job of data. Steph So, head of digital experience at Shake Shack, told PYMNTS, “We listened to our guests and witnessed the experiences they were having, and we worked flexibly and quickly to provide them with an array of options that gave them the accessibility and comfort they desired.” That’s about optionality in its many forms, from menu item to payment method.

“Our digital strategy is all about bringing enlightened hospitality to a digital scale and providing a personal, not just personalized, experience for each of our guests,” she said. “While we don’t have any plans to share just yet, we are looking at components such as AI to build into our toolkit.”

Again, this is the way of things during, and more so after, COVID. “A recent study reported that the new way of doing business is directed not just by lawmakers but also by customers who are telling restaurants how they want to be served,” per the new Order To Eat Tracker(R). “The sector had already been moving in this direction as consumers demanded convenience and frictionless digital engagement, but the pandemic accelerated this trend. Access to drive-thru, takeout and delivery are now becoming table stakes as customers value heightened safety measures, with 71 percent of consumers re- questing contactless delivery, for example.”

Munching On Analytics

This strange time will extend beyond calendar 2020, but initiatives set in motion this year promise to bear fruit for quick-service restaurants (QSRs), fast-casual eateries, and fine dining too.

Deploying enhancements to loyalty programs is proving out as a moneymaking, cash flow-enriching strategy, and as platforms perform more of analytics, it’s quantifiably positive.

“[Our] customers measure their campaigns against a control group, enabling them to test their innovative ideas in a scientific fashion and find the ones that make them the most money. Using this type of scientific process can take extra work to accomplish and is a change in how they approach promotions,” Paytronix’s Robbins said.

“Also, often the true results are meaningful over months, thanks to a positive impact on incremental sales. That can add greatly to the top line when you look at quarterly growth.”

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