Big Data Ready to Serve Foodservice


As industry analysts predict flat restaurant growth and increasing competition, foodservice operators are looking to squeeze more profit from existing traffic. Enter Big Data.

Erik Oberholtzer, a founder and CEO of Tender Greens, an emerging quick-service, salad-focused chain based in Los Angeles, is convinced that data mining can help guide the company’s East Coast expansion. And well-known chef Tom Colicchio is using high-tech strategies to revamp and expand his chain of ‘Wichcraft sandwich shops.

“Both start-ups and established companies are scrambling to deliver up-to-the-minute data on sales, customers, staff performance or competitors by merging the information that restaurants already have with all sorts of data from outside sources: social media, tracking apps, reservation systems, review sites, even weather reports,” The New York Times noted.

A single restaurant, for example, may be using three or more systems to track inventory, take onsite and online orders and arrange staffing. Often one system doesn’t talk with another. Better data systems can solve connectivity problems while delving deeper into workflow snags, waste-reduction strategies and even the finer points of customer preferences. For instance, if a regular customer pays with an airline credit card, servers can be clued in to chat about travel during service points.

The message to restaurateurs is simple: Ignore data at your peril, said Damian Mogavero, author of “The Underground Culinary Tour,” which explores how data have transformed the restaurant industry.

Grocerant-Ready Ideas:

  • Point-of-sales systems that connect to inventory control
  • Self-serve kiosks for prepared food orders only
  • Curated menus for online orders and quicker service
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