Deployment of Digital Solutions Needed for Survival, Growth
Mega chains with internal IT and marketing departments have been aggressively implementing new technology to stay in front, allowing them to squeeze independent operators out of markets they have been in for decades. Some of these operators have looked to partnerships and the deployment of affordable pay-as-you-go solutions to stay competitive.
SWIPEBY, offers a customizable 360⁰ direct ordering platform for geo-fenced curbside, no commission delivery and other features that drive new and repeat online customers. The company works with hundreds of independent retailers and has partnerships with leading retail e-commerce players such as Avalara, Door Dash, Toast, Quality Mart, and Restaurant.com. In discussions with these partners, customers and industry pundits, SWIPEBY identified five key predictions restaurants, c-stores, and other retailers should consider in 2023.
Here are SWIPEBY’s top 5 predictions for retail and consumer-facing food tech in 2023.
- Must Own the Online Experience to Build Brand Loyalty – With inflation continuing and recession rumblings, operators will look to lure consumers with cost savings. Since 2019, retailers and restaurants have been launching their own apps that entice consumers with loyalty rewards programs. This will shift as consumers get overloaded with separate apps, especially for the smaller players. They will expect their reward points to be built into a brand’s online ordering system to automatically track their order history and assign rewards. The problem is many independent players don’t control their online ordering; third party companies do. Successful restaurants and retailers of any size will need to own the online ordering experience. Otherwise, the brand loyalty doesn’t go to the restaurant or retailer, it goes to the third-party company along with the consumer data.
- 2023 Will Be The Year of The Customer Data Wars – Third-party companies will move aggressively into setting up their own ghost warehouses that compete directly with their restaurant and retailer business customers. Additionally, ghost kitchens and dark warehouses will ‘un-ghost’ or go ‘un-dark’ opening up their locations for pickup and onsite kiosk ordering to capture more traffic and capitalize on locations. In response, restaurants and retailers will need to take an offensive posture by launching their own online ordering with curbside pickup and delivery they control. They’ll need to be hyper aware as to how they show up in Google searches so online ordering isn’t usurped by a third-party company. By taking command of the Google Business and social media platform experiences, they’ll ensure consumers can connect to their brand online ordering so they capture their customer’s data and deliver a personalized experience that drives engagement and loyalty beyond what a third-party company could deliver.
- Consumers Will Be More Willing to Trade Personal Data for Personalization and Convenience – As mentioned earlier, there is a struggle between staffing shortages and consumer demands. Kiosks and online ordering will help alleviate some off-premises pain points. Fortunately, consumers are willing to trade their data and location information for personalization and convenience. First, they’ve been trained by online retailers like Amazon and Etsy and quick serve restaurants (QSRs) to know how to shop online and do not need or want human interaction much of the time. This allows operators to take advantage of customization, upsell and cross-sell opportunities that are less awkward than when done human-to-human. Also, click-and-collect still reigns so restaurants and retailers will be focusing on delivering an exceptional off-premises communication experience. With a customer’s location information they can deliver on-brand messages to their customer based on location driven by geo-fencing technology.
- Technology Will Be Key to Understanding the Psychological and Operational Difference Between In-Person and Online Ordering – There’s a difference, though, between how retailers and restaurants must deal with consumers who are shopping in person or dining in versus those ordering online for quick delivery or pick-up. In 2023, operators will use technology to solve for the different psychological and operational aspects at play between the two. In-store and dining-in considerations will involve location-based discounts and offers, increased touchless POS solutions and human interaction only when necessary. Imagine approaching the frozen food section of your local grocery store and getting a text letting you know that you qualify for a discount on Häagen Dazs ice cream. In contrast, online orders need to be fulfilled efficiently. Predictive consumer data will help manage inventory decisions and location information will drive fulfillment timing so that consumers can get what they want when and where they want it.
- Online Ordering With Curbside Pickup Will Proliferate Among C-Stores – Convenience stores will be the rising stars and key challengers in the market in 2023. Historically, they’ve used old school manual technology, but big players such as Wawa and 7-11 have upgraded and adapted new technology that competes with QSRs, including adding drive-thru lanes. Shell has launched an app encouraging consumers to tour the best Shell station food. Buc-ee’s advertises fresh hot food made to order 24 hours a day. Even small, independent c-stores will offer online ordering with curbside pickup and delivery to satisfy most any craving any time of the day or night.
“We’re seeing successful operators deploying digital solutions that drive new and repeat business,” said Carl Turner, CEO and Founder of SWIPEBY. “Food is hot when the customer pulls up to the virtual drive-thru lane of a local Mexican restaurant thanks to geo-fencing location technology. Affordable quick delivery is available for practically anything when a consumer doesn’t want to leave a houseful of guests. A customer places an order or enrolls in a subscription with a c-store so that their morning coffee (with two creams) is delivered to them at the gas pump. All is a result of technology’s impact on independent retailers.”
As a stalwart in digitization of retail, SWIPEBY continues to monitor the pulse of the industry and is excited that in 2023 more independent operators will stay relevant and competitive through innovative technology deployment.