Splitit Redefining Retail May 2024 Banner

Toast Debuts Restaurant Marketing Tools as Diners Show Caution


Restaurant technology platform Toast has debuted digital storefront and marketing tools.

Toast’s Digital Storefront Suite offers website and online ordering capabilities, while its Marketing Suite combines marketing tools and automation technology, according to a Monday (May 1) news release.

“Together, the suites create a seamless digital hospitality experience for restaurants, integrate across the Toast platform, and allow restaurants to gather guest data from online and point-of-sale (POS) transactions,” the company said in its announcement.

This data, Toast added, helps drive automated, targeted campaigns and customized guest experiences, leading to an “engaging online environment” that attracts guests and leads to return restaurant visits and repeat orders.

“Our Digital Storefront and Marketing Suites extend that enhanced guest experience online using tools like Toast’s new AI-powered writing assistant, search engine-optimized websites and online menus, promotional offers, loyalty programs, and automated marketing campaigns that work together to draw guests in and keep them coming back,” Steve Fredette, president and co-founder of Toast, said in the release.

Restaurants can use some assistance when it comes to keeping customers coming back these days, as the current earnings season suggests customers are more cautious about dining out.

As PYMNTS wrote Monday, this was illustrated in recent comments by McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski.

“Consumers continue to be even more discriminating with every dollar that they spend as they faced elevated prices in their day-to-day spending,” he said during an earnings call.

The McDonald’s earnings release shows some evidence of those pressures, as foot traffic, per management, was flat or even down in many markets, and comparable sales were in the low single-digit percentage points, but as seen here in the latest annual report, in 2023, global comp sales were 9% higher and guest counts were up 3%.

The Big Mac maker wasn’t the only dining chain having trouble. As noted here, Brinker International CEO Kevin Hochman told analysts: “Our social media team has been watching the conversation that the consumer is frustrated by fast food prices” as the company tries to convince diners its casual dining fare provides more value.

Brinker, which owns Chili’s, reported sales were marked by slowing growth. In the latest fiscal third quarter, same store sales were 3.3% higher versus a year ago. That tally was 10.8% in the year before the fiscal third quarter.

And as PYMNTS reported, Starbucks turned in “disappointing” second-quarter results as the coffee chain saw “fewer visits from our more occasional customers,” Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan said on an earnings call. Revenues were down 1% since last year, and same-store sales dipped 4%.