big data in restaurantsIn recent years, big data has been something a lot of people have been talking about in terms of its possibilities for everything from economics to curing disease. However, it is also something businesses have been able to use very effectively to better understand what their customers want, how people engage with the companies they use, and where their marketing has been successful.

The restaurant business is no exception. While small, independent restaurants may not gather that much data by themselves, they can use external data around factors that affect their customers to see things, for instance, if they sell more of a certain menu item when the weather is good, or whether people book tables for larger parties around holidays.

Larger restaurant chains can use the information they gather using their own systems, such as point of sale systems like Cake POS, to look at how popular certain things are, average spend in different restaurant branches on different days, and much more.

Here are three ways the restaurant world uses big data:

Menu Improvement

With big data analysis techniques, you can not only see where certain items are popular or unpopular but also where certain tweaks are asked for regularly. Do people often ask for a dish without its usual rich, creamy sauce? Maybe you should add a lighter option to the menu. Is your least popular menu item your vegan option? Maybe people who are vegan just aren’t coming to your restaurant because you don’t offer enough choice, or maybe your brand just doesn’t appeal to that market (for instance, you are a steak specialist) and you could drop it altogether. Big data can help you make these menu tweaks.

Promotion

Restaurants can also use big data analysis to find out where and when a special offer is effective, or which customers haven’t been back for a while and should be targeted with an offer. To do this, of course, restaurants need to be able to tie bookings or purchases to people, so they can see who has and hasn’t received an offer. An easy way to do this is by using a loyalty program, which customers can register for. Loyalty programs in almost all sectors are largely used for data attribution.

Stock

A restaurant doesn’t want to sell out of a popular wine or an ingredient essential to a dish if there is a rush on, and data can be used to predict this. When you run a special seafood dish, does white wine go up in popularity as it pairs better? Do people order far more of a given menu item when it is cold, or choose your lower calorie options more in January? Data helps predict sales trends and can allow you to stock up better.

There are dozens of applications of data analysis that can make restaurants more efficient and help them appeal even more to their customers, but these are some very good examples of how big data is used in this sector.

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