The restaurant and hospitality industry has always been extremely competitive. Which is why the seemingly smallest edge can become a significant advantage for new establishments and brands attempting to either find their footing or maintain their market share.
More and more, data analytics are proving to be that edge. From a micro level — for instance, identifying the best operating hours — to a macro level such as looking for exploitable gaps in the market, data analytics are playing an increasingly important role in foodservice growth and success.
The use of data analytics in the food industry is nothing new. Large restaurant chains were using consumer surveys to determine locations and menu offerings well before the digital era.
What is new, however, is that, unlike more traditional restaurant reporting and surveys that tend to look at data on a small scale, today’s more holistic, aggregate analytics involve large sets of information.
What’s also new is that user-friendly technology is making these analytics easily accessible to foodservice professionals at all levels in the industry. That includes restaurants — both chains and independents — as well as manufacturers, distributors, and any other business that buys or distributes food or related equipment and services.
All of these businesses, big and small alike now have the ability to harness the potential of big data — and it’s having a huge impact right across the industry.
A growing number of leading foodservice brands are discovering what a tremendous enabler analytics are. Among the benefits they’re seeing:
Analytics can help identify suppliers offering the optimal cost for value. This alone is a significant competitive edge: Raw food products are always one of the biggest expenses in any foodservice operation.
Restaurant data analytics can be invaluable for accurately estimating delivery times. In addition to distance, restaurants collect and analyze information like weather, additional orders, and traffic volume in order to provide more accurate delivery estimates.
Just a couple of decades ago, restaurant owners essentially needed a crystal ball (perhaps combined with good business intuition) to make decisions around new product development and market expansion.
Today, whether they’re deciding what POS to buy, whether to invest in kitchen robotics, which delivery platform is best, or even what to put on the menu, foodservice operators, manufacturers and distributors are making many key decisions by analyzing a solid food industry database.
The extremely competitive nature of foodservice means that relationships with partners and suppliers are crucial. And strong relationships are built on good service — which stems from knowing your market and always having the products and services that your customers need (even before they ask for them).
Again, analytics offer a deep-dive perspective on what businesses — and consumers — are looking for. Not only can this insight identify areas with the most business potential, the right analytics can also ensure that suppliers continue to serve these markets well, helping them reinforce their reliability.
The fact is, everyone is online these days. They are buying online, getting directions online, doing research online. So as a foodservice operator — particularly a restaurant — you need to be online too. And you need to invest in building a positive online and social media presence.
Data analytics can provide helpful insight into what competitors are doing online with their businesses, and where they’re most active.
Adopting a new POS or delivery platform or kitchen automation solution involves research. What are other establishments using? Which systems are most popular? A platform like Brizo FoodMetrics can provide that insight. So that if you’re a restaurant, it can shorten the research phase of your buying journey. And if you’re a food technology developer, you can build a shortlist of features to include in your solution and ultimately deliver a better solution.
One of the keys to reducing food waste is through more targeted portion sizing. Portion sizing is also a critical factor in determining accurate menu pricing. These are two ways that the size of your portions can have a profound impact on your operations. And data analytics — gaining insight into portion sizing of your competitors — can help with both, enabling you to refine your menu strategy.
Location, location, location. Where a restaurant is situated is often as important than the quality of the food or service. Aside from factors like market size and potential exposure, your address also dictates the food and equipment suppliers you have available, while also influencing your customers’ perception of you.
Overall, analytics can fast-track your location selection by showing you which markets are growing, and for what kinds of food establishments. They can tell you whether these operations are independent or are part of larger chains. They can reveal cultural influences and regional cuisine preferences that will help you determine what will work best on your menu.
Restaurant analytics are truly a game-changer when it comes to optimizing everything from choosing your location to adopting technology to setting menu prices. Data-driven insight helps you operate faster, more efficiently, and more cost-effectively.
Analytics are also a great way to speed up your ROI: Rather than waste money and time on fruitless research and prospecting, you’re able to get right to the markets and suppliers that you need to be successful.