How data can boost retail performance

How can the food retail sector improve efficiency and customer spend? It comes down to technology, suggests Jonathan Britton, a co-founder of Shift 8.

“Being able to access data in real time and make decisions quickly is really important for franchisors. Data can be a massive subject, but it needs to be processed correctly otherwise the franchisor gets lost. A management suite allows the franchisor to pull up the appropriate reports,” says Britton.

What are the top two franchisor data needs?

1.       Ease of use: information gathered automatically

2.       Easy access to the site

What data do franchisors most want?

1.       Topline sales growth

2.       Average sales

3.       Loyalty component

“The biggest change is the push into more loyalty driven data,” says Britton. How franchise brands interact outside their stores is increasingly relevant too. “Change is predominantly driven by the franchisor’s request to build a function,” he explains.

Today the trend within food retail is for customers to order ahead, says Britton. “We’ve recently partnered with Beat The Q [an online ordering program] which pops the customer’s order straight into the retailer’s PoS system. The technology was slow to start but now it’s getting out there, it’s really taking off and the growth is phenomenal.”

Customers can view a list of local venues on the Beat the Q site, choose a store, select from the menu and pay for their order online. Ordering ahead is not just being used in the obvious venues where speed is essential – airports and hospitals – but in suburban shopping centres, because of the convenience to customers, he says.

Speed and convenience are key factors in customer choice in locations like food courts. “If there’s a queue at one outlet, it’s easy to go to the next store,” he says.

Technology is boosting efficiencies in other areas too, such as customer spend. “The challenge is to dynamically prompt and upsell,” says Britton. So Shift 8 has just introduced a prompted basket upsell function designed to encourage sales staff to improve customer spend.  “The program looks at what is in the basket and recommends extra items based on trends. We just rolled it out two weeks ago.”

The prompted basket upsell links to other programs such as customer loyalty. “The functionality allows you to view a customer’s repeat and recent purchases.”

Linking this to the loyalty card program helps improve efficiency and customer service too. Customers can show their loyalty card before they order, and the staff member can ask if they want to repeat their order.

Business benefits

When brands transfer from either a traditional cash register system or disjointed electronic system to a completely integrated and modern point of sale system, the franchisors can expect some reductions in service times. “Customers see an average of a 24.2 percent reduction in the time taken to place an order. Where the data is captured there is also an average reduction of 8.9 percent fulfilment time (i.e. once the order has been placed to the customer receiving the product).”

There is also a seven percent reduction in keystroke and clerk errors with a well-designed electronic point of sale system, Britton points out.

These figures are based on 45 quick service retail clients with 830 outlets, 1460 terminals and roughly $960,000,000 annual sales.

  • Former FoodCo financial controller Britton and franchising specialists Yvette Anelli, Amy Renae and Alden Zhou launched Shift 8 in May 2012 with one customer – Ali Baba. Now the company has just been named the FCA Supplier of the Year 2014.