In the bustling kitchen of commercial food service, something is stirring. There is certainly a sense of something new about the industry, and it’s not simply AI restaurant technologies. Instead, it called “restaurant intelligence,“ and it’s the reason such technologies become valuable.
Restaurant data intelligence is a way to understand, to grow. But, what is it? It’s the close and careful analysis of data where patterns emerge. It’s also the place and intersection of restaurant data and technologies where tastes and preferences reveal themselves.
Restaurant intelligence is ultimately the crossroads where brands begin to change and adapt. As you listen to big data for restaurants and the trends of industry giants, let restaurant intelligence become your guide.
Take the cases of McDonald’s, Domino’s, Starbucks, Panera Bread, and Shake Shack as they exude digital transformation, social listening, streamlined operations, brand expansion, and more. Look for yourself, and forge a unique path by exploring online ordering platforms to satisfy your growing restaurant intelligence needs.
Key Takeaway: Restaurant intelligence supports decisions, refines service, and deepens customer understanding. Its technologies fuel growth and innovation in the hotly contested hospitality industry.
5 Trends in Restaurant Intelligence (and Their Enterprise Examples)
While steering a restaurant, restaurant intelligence navigates us, plotting the course through online ordering integration and real-time personalization.
With the rise of digital solutions and delivery services, restaurant intelligence acts as compass and map, ensuring food reaches patrons with maximum efficiency. It’s also the coursing veins of loyalty programs, the primary way to nurture relationships with customers through rewards and recognition.
Restaurant intelligence is also a careful curator of healthy, sales-rejuvenating digital menus, selecting ingredients and reformulating menus in alignment with sustainable restaurant tech. Finally, it serves your brand expansion. Food data and technology colliding are the force that drives business into new territories with a clear strategy for the new landscape.
In the fast-paced, ever-changing industry, restaurant intelligence responds to trends, but it also originates and shapes them. Data increasingly refines and molds our operations, helping them serve our core goals: satisfaction and success.
1. Defining Digital Transformation
In business intelligence, digital transformation refers to the integration of technology and data directly into operations.
The purpose is to bring competitive advantage. At its core, digital transformation harnesses tools like AI, Machine Learning, and food data analytics to process vast sources of information. By using these tools in coordination, organizations discover valuable patterns, trends, and relationships within their databases.
Following these traces of customer taste, restaurant’s make decisions, streamline processes, and aim to enhance the customer experience. McDonald’s is an excellent example of embracing a data-driven world of business and buying.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, McDonald's perceived the significance of digital ordering and delivery within their sales. A digital customer engagement team was created, charged with responsibilities such as digital ordering, personalization, payment handling, loyalty programs, and delivery coordination.
Investment in digital innovations and technology became a priority as they aimed to improve the customer experience by satisfying ease and simplicity. Digital menus now grace McDonald's drive-throughs, allowing for tailored promotions. Initiatives like My McDonald's Rewards have launched to enhance digital interaction and to appeal to a new generation of patrons.
2. Expanding Customer Retention
Customer retention, in the context of the restaurant intelligence, is a gentle cultivation rather than a brash demand.
It's the art of holding a diner's loyalty by the hand, not by hooks and clasps. Through consistent appeal and a touch of tasteful promotion, it's the science of knowing your guest, not as a number in a ledger, but as a familiar face across the counter—a name linked with a favorite dish.
Through their data, a restaurant learns to greet the patron with the meaning of hospitality — naturally, warmly, as if it were the most expected thing in the world. It's more than good business practice; it's an ongoing relationship, where the restaurant and guest grow and break bread together.
In a bustling marketplace filled with clamor and choice, customer retention is that quiet corner booth where your data can find something precious and undiscovered. Something that brings them back, time and again—like it did for Starbucks.
The Starbucks Rewards program, a beacon among restaurant chains, has drawn to itself a might following.
Their 16 million active members by 2019 accounted for 40% of the company's total sales. Then, it was named the most profitable restaurant in America. In the second quarter of 2018, the numbers spoke at full volume: 7% increases in store sales and an 11% rise in their loyalty base.
If there is a secret to restaurant intelligence and acting in response, it lies in the timing. Do you use real-time personalization to send the right offer at the exact moment it’s needed? Starbucks, with a quiet calculated approach and an eye on the long game, used its customer loyalty metrics to achieve this ability.
As a warehouse of business intelligence, your loyalty program is not merely points and perks. Starbucks recognizes that the customer is a partner, and that a cup of coffee can be a conversation. Their technology acts accordingly.
3. Exceeding Delivery Expectations
What is delivery innovation? Delivery innovation is an added ability for your restaurant to reach off-premise customers. It’s also much more. It imagines new possibilities for the dining experience—and new frontiers of opportunity for restaurants.
After innovation, operators anticipate customer desires, satisfy yearly goals, and supercharge the volume of meals served. The same grace and efficiency that would have been unthinkable in a less connected age—now restaurants have it with innovative restaurant tech solutions.
In 2008, Domino’s opened a window into the kitchen with their "Pizza Tracker" technology, allowing the eager eater to follow an order's journey from oven to doorstep.
By 2011, they had eased the path even further with a high-rated mobile application to smooth the consumer's experience. But their curiosity and craving for putting their data to use did not stop at the digital doorstep.
They turned their gaze to the road, experimenting with a vehicle designed solely for pizza delivery. Such focused innovation, on combining technology and transportation, made for digital ease and delicious arrival.
Domino’s has not gone unrewarded. An 11% growth year over year has fattened the company's bottom line by a net of $400 million. Domino's, driving to improve its systems, transformed the simple slice of pizza into a healthy serving of business success.
Their warm and winning formula in a highly competitive field is not far from other brands. They can easily demo the technology that brings their data and diners together into dashboards, rewards, and more.
4. Testing Brand Expansion
Think of the delicate task of kneading dough, each motion a blend of precision and intuition, guided by a subtle, watchful intelligence. It’s not so different with restaurant intelligence and “kneading” or optimizing your operations.
Online ordering software can be your always-on chef , making decisions from the concoction of market analysis, demographic targeting, site selection, franchise modeling, and operational alignment.
Each ingredient, used carefully, contributes to the rich flavor of growth and opportunity. The challenge is in the integration of technology and taste, data and dining toward a clear strategy.
For a multi-location restaurant, explore Shake Shack as a model of brand expansion from the core—a place not merely for eating, but for experiences.
Shake Shack was once just that sprightly offspring of a hot dog stand in New York City.
It’s been growing up, and growing out. While others have hesitated, Shake Shack has looked abroad, opening a fresh venue in Mexico City and laying plans for 36 to 40 new restaurants in one year.
The path has not been without pebbles and pitfalls. Every expansion adds its pressures on profitability, its struggles with shrinking profit margins, and its daring in the face of inflation, competition, and potential catastrophe.
Yet Shake Shack goes onward, with the confidence of a brand that knows itself. The business knows the texture and taste of its very purpose: to delight. Their use of digital experiences to deepen the guest's enjoyment is not an add-on or a necessity.
In a world devoted to growth, restaurants can match Shake Shack’s exuberance for data-based expansion. Will you stand firm atop the billions of data points your restaurant holds for each meal, order fulfillment, and customer interaction? Savor that possibility.
5. Choosing Sustainable Optimization
In the restaurant intelligence business, there is a delicate need to balance two appetites: the desire to design the perfect promotion to a diner's taste, and then the commitment to a frugal use of resources. Food data analytics can help.
The recipe for balanced success—sales volumes your business can keep up—calls for green strategies like clean menu planning and recyclable packing materials. The result should be meals that satisfy both tastes.
Do you want a way of doing business that adds a fresh new flavor to profiting and a clear conscience to consumption? See how Panera Bread has made menu management a catalyst of change.
Panera Bread, in a world of false flavors and additives, took a stand in the name of simplicity and authenticity.
In 2014, with a public campaign, they committed themselves to the idea of clean food, a concept as pure and clear as mountain spring bottled water. They set about the task of reimagining offerings, rooting out more than 150 artificial items—flavors, sweeteners, colors with no natural place on our plate.
By the end of 2016, the menu optimization and brand transformation was complete. Panera’s new menu was “fake food”-free zone. Free of the artificial, full of the genuine, the restaurant made a bold move to set themselves apart.
Panera's commitment to clean eating became a defining feature, a statement that a meal could be more than pleasure, it could carry the taste of integrity, the essence of goodness. That’s a flavor customer’s can support: a company's believing in something larger than itself.
In the noisy marketplace of today's restaurants, brands seeking sustainability in restaurants will find powerful help from online ordering solutions to provide tips on improving your most popular dishes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Restaurant Intelligence
Where orders rage and flavors mix, a quiet but potent force shapes success: information, data, knowledge, insight—whatever you call it by name. Test your knowledge with this FAQ. What are restaurant analytics, KPIs, and why do they matter in this vibrant industry?
Explore these questions from other enterprise restaurants, and get the answers you need to inform growth.
What is restaurant intelligence?
Restaurant intelligence is the systematic utilization of data to enhance decision-making, customer engagement, and operational efficiency in the restaurant industry.
What are restaurant analytics?
Restaurant data analytics examine information specific to your eatery (or multiple locations) to gather insight and boost performance. It is like peering into a well-stocked freezer and understanding the items on the shelves as well as how to combine the ingredients for pleasing profits.
The combined understanding of restaurant analytics extends beyond “Indicators,” telling a story from the histories of orders, promotions, stock levels, and more.
What does KPI mean in restaurants?
As a restaurant, tracking your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) checks the pulse of your enterprise through customer retention, customer acquisition, and customer experience metrics.
A daily, weekly, or monthly ritual of routinely measuring and monitoring informs the health and vitality of your business. These “key” indicators serve as markers on a path, allowing you to milestone, evaluate, and improve restaurant operations accordingly.