By Jeffrey Green (@epaymentsguy)
Restaurants now can connect their menus, staff performance, and customer insights from social media into a graphical interface that helps managers to identify key trends in their operations.
The Winter 14 cloud-based platform released today by Swipely, a Providence, R.I.-based company that helps merchants understand their customers better through information from in-store systems and the social Web, provides even deeper data
and more actionable insights to help grow sales through improved menus, service and marketing, the company says.
“The key to growing loyal customers is having the right products and great service,” Angus Davis, Swipely founder and CEO, told PYMNTS.com in an interview. “We bring the data to the merchants because merchants don’t have the time to go looking for it themselves.”
2 target areas
About two-thirds of the company’s customers operate in the hospitality sector, including 1,000 restaurants and bars in 33 states. Swipely, which targets restaurants that gross more than $500,000 annually, organized the new Winter 14 features into two areas, Menu Intelligence and Server Performance.
The Menu Intelligence feature enables restaurants to gain quick insights to improve their menus by providing via chart illustrations answers to such questions as which entrees are most likely to generate loyal customers? What do customers say online about this dish? And what is my best customer’s favorite glass of wine?
Swipely pulls together for merchants data from three key areas, including from the payment network that processes customers’ card transactions, in-store point-of-sale operations, and online via Twitter, Yelp, Open Table and other sources, Angus said. “Merchants can see all the data come together to see which dish is doing best,” he said.
Best performers ID’d
Some 13 million people work at U.S. restaurants, and the workforce represents the biggest cost generally, Davis noted. The Server Performance feature enables restaurants to use performance data to help managers coach staff, increase sales, and reward their best performers using leaderboards and analytics. Similar to the Menu Intelligence function, Winter 14 also provides graphical information to help restaurants answer such questions as, who are my top servers, measured by sales, customer retention and table turn? Who does the best job turning a first-time customer into a repeat customer? And who does the best job selling desserts and could share tips with colleagues?
Historically, storing customer payment card data and receipts was a chore. What Swipely has done is take the information and use it to track best customers by name, what they ate and how often they return. This, in turn, can help the restaurant owner to cater their menus to specific customers, while also helping staff to provide them with service that has best met their needs in the past.
Newbies vs. repeats
“We can see new versus repeat customers, and what people are saying about their business online,” Davis said. “We can then compare that against other businesses in the neighborhood.
Swipely negotiates its terms individually with each merchant. Winter 14 appears to be a good addition to help the independently operated offline restaurants that Swipely targets. It’s likely worth the extra cost, especially when it comes to complementing the company’s existing ability to track the performance of rewards programs and special marketing initiatives.