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5 lessons restaurants can learn from Uber, Amazon

Uber and Amazon have bridged the gap between digital and physical experiences in a way that has reset consumer expectations for how they interact with all their favorite brands.

With Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Foods expanding the company’s footprint in grocery, and UberEats gaining traction (UberEats is ranked as the top online food delivery app in the Apple App Store), it may only be a matter of time before Amazon and Uber start to cut into restaurant profits and market share. Amazon is already experimenting with food kits, which could impact consumer spending at restaurants.

To compete, restaurants need to cement their brand with consumers now — and that means utilizing rich, mobile technology that can bring experiences similar to those of Amazon and Uber. This requires thinking beyond a “beautiful app.”

Here are five lessons restaurants can learn from Amazon and Uber.

1. Own customer relationships and data.
Amazon has built its business on its ability to manage customer relationships and control customer data themselves.  This enables them to personalize consumer experiences in a way that inspires loyalty and sales. In order for restaurants to control a consumer’s experience from order to delivery and beyond, they need to own, not outsource, their CRM to third parties like OpenTable, or delivery to Uber Eats. Hotels which had largely relied upon third-party aggregators like Expedia and Kayak have also begun to take this approach and reclaim their customer data.

2. Experience must be personalized online and in-store.
Amazon wouldn’t be Amazon if it didn’t offer superior delivery capabilities following an online order and keep a consumer engaged by predicting what might interest them in the future. Similarly, restaurants need to remember the digital and physical worlds are not two separate entities and offer an integrated marketing approach. For example, technology now enables restaurants to utilize past purchase data to recognize a loyal customers when they walk in, show them to their favorite table, offer to order their favorite foods, and alert them as to when they have earned a reward.

3. Convenience is critical
Amazon and its infamous Amazon Prime have mastered the economics of product distribution, providing a consumer with any product they need which can, in many cases, can be delivered to their door within a couple of hours. In a similar way, Uber is not only able to match a consumer with a driver in near real-time at the push of a button but is able to offer a personalized experience by predicting how long it will take for the driver to reach the passenger, and arrive at their destination. Technology now enables restaurants to control consumer engagement in ways similar to Amazon and Uber, bringing personalized, convenient digital experiences for everything from rewards, offers, ordering, mobile payments, games, and more.

4. Connect everything
Uber and Amazon record the purchase history, shopping habits and preferences of every consumer and align suggestions, promotions and deals accordingly. This is only possible by ensuring every interaction point online and offline are connected, bringing a 360-degree view of a consumer. Restaurants need to adopt this approach, gathering historical data from point of sale whether it be mobile, online, or in-store, as well as other interactions, which can also be predictively linked to in-store inventory and influences based on the calendar, weather and more.

5. Next-generation tech can give a leg up
Consider how next-generation technology such as Amazon’s Alexa already enables voice-based ordering of merchandise and even food. Restaurants have the ability to integrate messaging chatbots that not just answer simple questions or place orders, but earn and redeem loyalty points even without a mobile app. Further, beacon technology is being adopted now that has the capability of recognizing customers when they are near a restaurant or in-store, not only enabling restaurants to better manage order volumes, but on-time food preparation.

Restaurants that think the most important part of customer experience is in-store will be disrupted by Uber and Amazon — it is only a matter of time. Restaurants must match consumers to their preferences through a sophisticated technology backbone that is predictive and personalized.  Being able to offer an experience backed by data bridging the digital and physical worlds will not only ensure that restaurants can keep pace with the evolving expectations of consumers being driven by Uber and Amazon, but also protect and strengthen their brand and its connection to their consumers into the future.

Cover photo: iStock