ShopAdvisor – Helping Restaurants And Stores Draw More Diners And Shoppers Through Mobile Proximity Marketing

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Below is our recent interview with Jeff Papows, CEO at ShopAdvisor:

Jeff Papows

Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to ShopAdvisor?

A: Simply put, ShopAdvisor provides a proximity marketing solution that intelligently engages consumers with contextually relevant offers and ads on their smartphones, tablets and even desktops. These promotions entice them to visit the nearest restaurant or store where they can purchase that offering.

Our solution, which is used by restaurants, brands, retailers and digital agencies, spans audience and geographic targeting; rich media creative design and delivery; campaign execution, management and optimization; and post-campaign analysis.

Q: How has restaurant industry changed in the last 60 years?

A: The biggest change is the emergence of the fast food segment. In 1955, when Ray Kroc started franchising McDonald’s nobody could have imagined how much the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) and Fast Casual dining concepts would come to dominate the restaurant industry. Now there are nearly 200,000 quick service restaurant establishments in the U.S generating $290.2 billion in consumer spending in 2017. These restaurants have become so ubiquitous that they are defining icons of American culture.

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Q: What are the benefits of quick service restaurants?

A: It’s their consistency in terms of convenience, menu, service, design, experience, pricing and branding that have made them popular choices for every type of consumer.

Q: With there being 200,000 restaurants in this segment the competition is huge. How is it possible to stand out?

A: It’s getting harder and harder that’s for sure. Their consistency is a great strength but it also brings its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to how can one stand out from another and establish customer loyalty? Increasingly the answer is technology, and more specifically, mobile marketing campaigns.

Today around 80 percent of the U.S. population use smartphones for a multitude of everyday tasks, including helping to locate restaurants, get directions, review menus, place orders and make payments. Simply put, mobile rules. As a channel, it represents a huge opportunity to improve overall dining experiences and deliver results that matter to operators. Many quick-serves today are using mobile technology to attract new customers and increase average order size. The return on investment for those brands willing to invest in mobile is undeniable. That’s why quick-serves open to building dynamic, customized mobile customer experiences will be rewarded by gaining a greater share of customers and a competitive advantage.

Q: What should these mobile marketing campaigns look like?

A: We believe it’s all about personalization and proximity. While an app may be the starting point for engaging the diner, it’s the experience delivered by that app and how it can engage the user and compel them to place an order online, or better yet, go into the restaurant itself. Couple this with the Millennial and GenZ desire for something more than a quick in and out experience and you now have operators looking to exploit both on- and off-premise dining. Further, once you have a diner on premise there is greater opportunity to increase sales of more items — appetizer specials, drinks, deserts — than the core meal itself.

So if the desired end is to get the diner into the restaurant, what should a mobile marketing campaign look like? Here are three examples.

New location launch
As with any chain restaurant, expansion is inevitable and also a sign of success as your brand grows. These days, moving into new areas where there is hefty competition requires so much more than putting ads in local papers; placing signage across your restaurant proudly pronouncing “grand opening;” or staging inflatable air dancers to catch consumer attention. It also requires leveraging technology as much as possible, especially mobile.
One key feature of a mobile marketing campaign for this kind of situation is a restaurant finder. Once the consumer is engaged with the promotion things like mapped out directions, hours of operations, access to menu items, phone numbers to call for reservations or to place orders and options for take out or delivery can all be conveyed succinctly. To make this happen ShopAdvisor’s geofencing capabilities can identify and engage with potential consumers within a logical area such as three to five miles, alert them to your location and include promotions to increase foot traffic. Why is this important for a new location? Well unlike brick and mortar retail stores where shoppers often enter to browse but not buy, when a customer walks into a QSR or fast-casual restaurant they looking for something to eat and the odds of purchases food or drink are extremely high.

Off Hours Promotion
Every restaurant has those off-peak times when seats are hard to fill. If you’re a restaurant owner, you’ve probably tried a variety of ways to increase the number of customers during these hours. Obviously, it’s not as simple as introducing a new menu or placing signage outside of your establishment. Boosting sales during slow times can be one of the most challenging tasks for a restaurant. Often times, you have to grab customers’ attention at just the precise time with contextually intelligent offer, say for a mid-afternoon drink or a late-evening snack. This means implementing some creative real-time marketing efforts. Real- time marketing uses information and data of new or existing customers, including personal trends and spending history, to send targeted instant offers that will get them in the door and encourage them to purchase more. It can also include external information that can play a role in influencing that consumer. For example, during summer heat waves a promotion offering a 2 for 1 deal on a new refreshing drink could bring not just one customer, but their friend to a location as well, and once there, the operator has the chance to increase sales with other enticing offers.

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Loyalty Reward Offers for Menu Item
As has become somewhat the norm with various restaurant and fast-food apps, there are always new menu items or staples which are offered as a loyalty reward, on sale, or part of a special promotional campaign. There are a myriad of reasons for this, but the main one is that the establishment wants to develop and nurture repeat customers, who are more likely to return to a restaurant that has a loyalty reward program. According to Nielsen, 60% of customers say they are more likely to return to a restaurant because of an appealing loyalty program. It is also important to remember that you cannot expect customers to be impressed with a random menu item, just because it is free. You should be offering incentives that people love, and rewarding them with the best of what your restaurant has to offer.

Q: What can we expect from ShopAdvisor in the future?

A: Well, we’re very excited about some campaigns we’re powering in this space, but can’t talk about at this time. But we expect that will change later this year. So right now this segment is a major focus for us. However, we continue to work with digital agencies brands and retailers in our traditional CPG segments. Bottom line is the market is there, the consumer is ready, and the technology is capable of enhancing the consumer experience while adding to the owner/operator’s bottom line.