The rise of proximity technology in QSRs

The more you know about who and where your customers are, the more useful you can be to them. Here's a quick overview of the possible uses of proximity technology for QSRs and other restaurant brands. 

In-store beacons light the way

Beacons are typically one of the first proximity technologies to be connected to a restaurant's Internet of Things, and they're growing in popularity - Juniper research suggests 1.6 billion offers annually will be sent via beacon by 2020. These devices are Bluetooth(LE) transmitters that Bluetooth-enabled phones can interact with when in range. They have obvious utility: delivering on the spot rewards for check-ins and orders, reporting on wait time, managing queues and promoting offers. Data from in-store beacons can also be used to show dwell time; indicating a preference for dine-in vs take-out and providing yet more opportunity for personalization and up-sell.

One of the cooler uses of beacon technology in QSRs and other restaurants though is not just reporting behavior, but measuring behavior change. Combining beacon with app and PoS data, brands can uncover which customers visit at different parts of the day or week, then target offers accordingly and see how redeeming an offer changes behavior compared to a control group. It could become obvious that non-breakfast eaters who redeemed a breakfast offer now come in for breakfast more often than people who didn’t redeem – easily proving the effectiveness of that marketing campaign.

A 2014 inMarket study found that beacons positively impacted both in-store and app activity:

  • Interactions with advertised products increased by 19x for users who received a beacon message.
  • In-store app usage was 16.5x greater for users who received a beacon message.
  • Shoppers who received a beacon message were 6.4x more likely to keep an app on their phone, versus those who did not.

For more detail on the practical uses of beacons in retail and restaurants, check out this recorded webinar. Plexure's Kai Crow and Christopher Dawson present an in-depth look at how beacons can drive real benefit for your business - and how to avoid the potential problems they can cause.

Geofencing - put a ring on it

The use of geofences extends the idea of beacons beyond the store and into the outside world. These are are virtual perimeters that trigger a response when crossed – like the more commonly used zip codes and Designated Marketing Areas, but geofences can be a matter of feet instead of miles. Your own stores can be fenced so you know when customers are approaching (and fire their order ready for service when they reach the counter), or you can set up a geofence around the competition (so you know when you need to send a push message bringing customers back to yours). This geo-conquesting is essentially the mobile equivalent of bidding on a competitor’s name on Adwords, and it can pay off: a Verve study found people served ads around a competing outlet were 3.1 times more likely to go to the advertiser’s restaurant and 18% less likely to patronize the competitor’s.

Customizing menus in the moment with dynamic displays and digital signage

For QSRs with drive-thrus particularly, digital displays add a lot to the ordering process: making it easy to promote best sellers and day-part menu options, increasing ordering speed and accuracy - blessedly making static speakers a thing of the past - decreasing frustration and increasing upsell opportunities. Just stopped in for a burger? How about upgrading to a meal for just $1 more? And would you like a dessert with that? Or if the day’s cold and miserable, it’s a matter of minutes to push a coffee-and-pie add-on to capture additional business.

But beyond the ease of updating digital menu boards (not to mention the cost savings), digital displays can be programmed to detect a known mobile device coming into proximity, or to display content according to data received from a connected camera. So menus and offers displayed can be made more relevant to not only time of day and weather in the area, but to specific customers for even better results.