Google continues to double down on visual search and navigation. Its latest move came last week with updates to its Live View visual navigation to help users identify and qualify local businesses. This follows soon after its Earth Cloud Anchors that will let users create digital content on physical places.
Both developments tell us something about what may well be the future of local search: augmented reality-enhanced visuals.
We expect to see a continued rise in touchless retail shopping and contactless transactions à la Amazon Go Stores.
But one of the less-discussed technologies in the Covid-advantaged bucket is self-serve mobile restaurant ordering. The idea is that ordering and paying from your table can reduce server interaction — which has Covid and non-Covid benefits considering it can save diners’ lives and their time.
AR’s impact on local is playing out in many ways, including Google’s “internet of places” aspirations to let you point your phone at storefronts to reveal information like business details and reviews. It’s also happening in brand advertising activations to let consumers visualize products in 3D through mobile AR interfaces.
M7 founder Matt Maher tells us there are several advantages to this new flavor of brand marketing. AR’s immersion creates strong consumer engagement, which can be seen in metrics like session lengths. In-store activations mean lower-funnel impact near the point of purchase.
Email is often the primary channel for restaurants to stay in touch with customers and let them know about changes. When email is done right, there are many small ways restaurants can use it to personalize messaging, drive more engagement, and make their lives easier with scalable best practices.
Restaurant chains like Wingstop, Domino’s, Panera, and Round Table have created their own skills to make it easier for people to place orders through voice assistants like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. But before voice ordering can truly disrupt the restaurant industry, restaurants have to find ways to reduce the friction and eliminate the kinds of errors that lead to the wrong orders being delivered.
Here’s how some of the country’s top restaurant chains are overcoming the challenges associated with voice ordering and developing more frictionless customer experiences.
The numbers suggest consumers might be ready to start ordering food and beverages via voice, and voice shopping via at-home smart speakers is projected to reach $40 million in revenue by 2022. In 2020, we’ll see consumers leveraging this technology at a growing rate. In advance of this increase in adoption, restaurants will need to ensure they will be compatible with connected consumer devices.
In order to keep up with the likes of Dunkin’, Denny’s and Domino’s, restaurants of all sizes need to optimize their tech stacks and diversify their strategies.
On this week’s Location-Based Marketing Association podcast: 7-Eleven launching mobile voice ordering, Adidas testing AR Instagram in London, Amex launching a mobile restaurant booking app, Augmented Reality wine labeling with Winerytale app, Toys R Us first in Canada to use Snapchats Portal Lens, and Factual introducing predictive & loyalty audiences.
For Brandify’s local search consumer survey, consumers were asked to name the tools they’ve used in the last 30 days to find information about businesses nearby. Though a vast majority of 77% named Google Maps over any other tool, there was a significant “second tier” group including Facebook at 38%, Yelp at 35%, and business websites at 32%.
The study also asked consumers about the frequency of searches, the range of businesses for which they searched, preferred devices, and the likelihood of visiting a business after searching.
On this week’s Location-Based Marketing Association podcast: Republican campaign using beacon-enabled lawn signs, &Pizza + Lyft, WeChat battles fake GPS data, Nordstrom will deliver food to you in store, Jägermeister summons “Darke Spirits”, Chick-Fil-A launches dine-in mobile app.
The putative benefits of competing in vertically oriented channels come at a greater cost than was the case when GMB provided a unitary platform for all industries. Simply put, Google is serving the specialized needs of price-conscious travelers or those who want greater assurances when hiring a service professional, and in so doing, the company is creating additional channels to generate revenue through ads. More and more businesses will have to get used to spending their way toward greater exposure to their desired audiences — which is only odd in light of the fact that so much of local marketing has historically been organic in nature.
Ninety percent of consumers research restaurants online before dining—more than any other business type—and the vast majority of those web searches start on Google. The search giant plays an important role in the success of restaurant marketing online, making it a desirable partner for any digital platform serving the restaurant industry.
Partnering with Google often means increased search traffic and a strengthened position within the restaurant vertical, which helps to explain the enthusiasm coming from Olo’s recent announcement that it will be working with Google to allow its restaurant partners to receive orders directly from Google Search, Maps, and Google Assistant.
One area where restaurants have particularly specific needs is in promoting customer loyalty. Vertical-specific loyalty platforms for restaurants tend to have features and capabilities that more generalized loyalty platforms do not. For example, many loyalty platforms for restaurants are tied to reservation systems, so waiters know customers’ preferences before seating them at their tables.
Although the number of loyalty platforms for restaurants is growing every day, we’ve put together a list of seven important players that anyone who is interested in this space should be following.
Pared, the platform matching restaurant and hospitality workers with businesses in need of staff to cover shifts, is expanding to DC. Pared is already live in New York and San Francisco, and it plans to expand to Philadelphia, Boston, and other locations in 2020.
The San Francisco-headquartered startup claims its service offers a prime deal for workers and businesses alike. It says it offers hospitality and food service workers higher wages and flexibility while offering businesses a ready workforce amid perennially high turnover in the industry.
Jeff Bezos likes to say, “Your margin is my opportunity.” Like with Whole Foods and grocery, Amazon moves into new verticals and applies its logistics-first approach to carve out margins, then undercut competitors. It is even getting into shipping, in a move to own its delivery infrastructure.
The next local conquest could be restaurants. For Amazon, it’s not just about serving food, but doing so in a way that aligns with its forte: delivering things to your home. The biggest clues and synergies lie in its established delivery and logistics playbook as well as its recent $575 million investment in Deliveroo.
Enter the cloud kitchen.
Blumenthal to Mihm: It seems to me that Google could take the fake listings issue off the table by seriously investing in cleaning up the fake listing and fake review issue. I just don’t think that they think that way.
At a minimum, as the company that has the monopoly in the local space, Google faces the expectation and responsibility to provide a service that truly serves the public and businesses. And they seem to forget that.
Mihm to Blumenthal: I’m not averse to the idea of the government regulating Google’s practices in Maps or local search, but it feels like rewarding Yelp in particular is not going to bring consumers any particular benefit, nor will it meaningfully benefit small businesses, as Elizabeth Warren seems to indicate is a primary goal of her plan.
If anything, Google has gone out of its way to help small businesses compete in its search results with the introduction of the local pack and the Venice update, whereas small businesses continue to rate Yelp as poorly as any company in tech.
Standing out in the mobile ordering space isn’t easy. GrubHub, Uber Eats, Door Dash, and dozens of other mobile ordering platforms are competing for business in what’s already become a tight market. So how does an outsider break into the business, and break away from the competition?
For companies like Allset, the answer is to create entirely new services that competitors aren’t offering.
Brushing aside customer surveys and other imprecise measures of customer loyalty, location intelligence firm Foursquare released a location-based report this morning that evaluates best practices and practitioners in loyalty among casual restaurant chains.
Most importantly for future considerations, the report suggests that brands can improve loyalty in all four of the areas that contributed to its index.
Restaurant management software provider Toast announced $250 million in additional funding on Monday, valuing the firm at $2.7 billion and cementing its lead position in the SaaS market for restaurants. TCV and Tiger Global Management led the Series E round.
Rodion Yeroshek: The majority of restaurant businesses, especially the small ones, remain slow adopters and non-adopters of AI technology. People may think that the introduction of AI in small restaurant operations is nothing more than jumping on the bandwagon. However, research on the impact of AI on the world economy by McKinsey Global Institute warns the naysayers. The research predicts that by 2030 active adopters of AI technologies could double their cash flow, while non-adopters could lose up to 20% of theirs. This is a hint for restaurant managers who plan to stay in business for the next 10-15 years that it’s time they embrace AI tools or prepare to lose a big part of their market share for good.