Five ways the catering industry can boost customer sales and footfall through a mobile-led payments and loyalty strategy

| July 11, 2018 | By

With Yoyo fast becoming the dominant form of payment across thousands of catering outlets in the UK, CEO Michael Rolph reveals his top tips on how caterers, big and small, can successfully increase sales and footfall, including a need for speed on the ground, being able to unlock payment data and empowering site-level catering teams.

Five ways the catering industry can boost customer sales and footfall through a mobile-led payments and loyalty strategy

Last week, Yoyo launched its new order ahead offering through a strategic partnership with digital ordering platform Preoday.

This new order ahead functionality is going to be seamlessly integrated into Yoyo to enable our catering, as well as retail, partners deliver the best pre-ordering experiences to customers, on top of mobile payment, automated loyalty, personalised rewards, and digital receipts.

While we continue to expand across the British high street, our presence in the catering sector is also growing considerably, with Yoyo now present in thousands of catering outlets across both business and education sectors.

So with Yoyo adding yet another customer experience layer to its offering, it seems like a good time to talk about our work with the catering sector and consider how caterers of all sizes can significantly boost sales and footfall, as well as add value, through a combined payment, loyalty, pre-ordering and rewards strategy.

After countless conversations with caterers big and small, we’ve identified five key themes all caterers should be thinking about now!

1. Speed on the ground

Speed of transaction is essential for caterers. Whether a customer is grabbing lunch at their work canteen or queuing for a beer during halftime at a football match, caterers want to get as many people through their tills during those key trading times.

The longer a customer spends at the till, shuffling with cash, payment cards, and/or separate loyalty cards, the longer the queues during peak times and the bigger the frustration for customers and cashiers – resulting in increased dissatisfaction and a dent to sales, both long and short term.

A combined payment, loyalty and rewards experience that frictionlessly takes place in one moment at the point-of-sale will cut queues, boost sales volumes and prove popular with customers and ground staff alike.Bringing pre-ordering into the fold is, of course, only going to speed up the process further. When the catering and events team at The Aviva Stadium wanted to enhance its service during breaks on match days (when 60% of the day’s total food and drink sales are made), it decided to introduce Preoday functionality. It came to be known as RapidQ, was soon downloaded 10,000 times and saw an average of 2.5 orders per customer.

(Interestingly, it was found that 45% of orders were placed up to three hours before kick off and 42% were made during the match before half time.)

2. Stand out from competitors by unlocking the power of your basket data to engage customers

Know your customers! It’s a phrase that’s being bandied around by range of sectors at the moment, and a particularly tricky issue for the catering industry, which tends to have several target customer-bases depending on the type of outlet(s).

The customer experience with one type of outlet needs to be different from another when it comes to delivering a successful personalised strategy (think visit frequency, in-store experience, product types etc), requiring advanced data techniques to identify and engage different customer segments.

One overlying experience that all customers in catering outlets share is payment. It’s this common customer / caterer interaction where the most valuable data insight that matters can be gained.

By tapping into the point-of-sale through a simple transaction API, caterers can gain full SKU level customer basket data (the individual items that make up each and every customer transaction), which turns anonymous shoppers into individual customers with tastes and preferences.

This data can be used to vastly improve the customer experience by delivering personalised services, rewards, deals and offers based on past purchases.

What’s more, this basket data can be utilized to create and run hyper-targeted marketing and CRM campaigns that can be judged, not by traditional marketing metrics, but in real-time changes to customer purchasing behaviour

3. Empower your site-level catering teams

Different catering outlets face different opportunities and challenges. For instance, a customer strategy for a bar in a concert arena is unlikely to be suitable for a corporate canteen.

Whether part of a small or large scale catering company, it’s important that local and regional site managers have the tools to create short or long-term campaigns that can react quickly to the changing behaviours of their customer base(s).

Through Yoyo’s unique insight dashboard and campaign manager, Yoyo Engage (more on that later), site managers have been empowered to do just that!

For instance, we’ve seen outlets with higher customer frequency (like corporate canteens), choose highly-successful “product push” campaigns.

Created and launched on the same day, these short-term marketing campaigns have rewarded points, stamps or freebies to customers who buy items that have been identified by site managers as needing an extra incentive to purchase.

Then there are catering outlets which have high footfall but less frequent customers (like a museum café). They found longer-term marketing campaigns, which reward customers for spending over a certain amount, more effective.

Here’s a good example of how powerful these types of campaigns can be:

Yoyo Loyalty Campaign Free Chips Friday

4. Be quid pro quo with customer data and deliver delightful experiences

Now more than ever, customers are aware that data means power. If they are sent personalised marketing campaign content – they’ll quickly realise it’s because of some form of data exchange. 

Basket data insight may be used by caterers to push certain products or drive footfall during quieter times, but there also needs to be a clear quid pro pro relationship, where this basket data is also used to deliver experiences that customers actually want.

Recent research carried out by Yoyo and YouGov found that, among the most desired experiences that customers wanted to receive, personalised deals/discounts tailored to past purchases, the ability to order in advance and digital itemised receipts came top of the list.

Basket data insight, as well as in-built pre-odering functionality, is able to achieve two key things: it not only drastically improves personalised marketing activity and campaign measurement, it can also deliver all of these desired services and more.

Rewarding customers for choosing your outlet is also important, as catering environments tend to face competition from big high street brand names and “cool” boutiques. Sometimes it’s a case of customers simply wanting to get away from their surroundings (i.e. their workspace).

So it becomes essential for customers to encounter rewards that are most likely to incentivise them. 

With the right data to hand, instant notifications could be sent to customer’s smartphone when the items they like most have become available in their nearby catering outlet.

Imagine a customer receives a push notification from their staff canteen just as they’re making their way into the office: “Your favourite snack is back on sale from today and because you like it so much, you’ll get a free one on us this morning.”

(On a side note, remember that catering environments often have a major ace up their sleeves – convenience! It’s important to take advantage and maximise this opportunity. Think about the potential of the following campaign: “Spend over £4.00 with us during lunch and you’ll get a free coffee between 3pm and 5pm to get you through the afternoon.”)

5. Have both a site-level and holistic view of your catering business

Finally, whether made up of 10 or 1000 outlets, a catering company’s senior management team needs to have an holistic view of customer footfall and business performance across multiple sites.

At the same time, being able to compare the performance of one outlet against another allows a caterer to analyse the different dynamics behind customer and product behaviour.

It was through this combined lens that we created Yoyo Engage to provide deep understanding into customer behaviour and ensure data-led decision-making on how products and services could be better merchandised, both on-site and at a wider business level.

It’s through this unique platform that caterers create and measure the effectiveness of their tailor-made local, regional and wider loyalty programmes. What’s more, they get to see full up-to-the-minute trading reports on all three levels.

Of course, ensuring that Yoyo Engage delivers the most effective personalised marketing campaigns, as well as the most accurate picture of a caterer’s business performance, requires high customer adoption of the Yoyo app experience.

This is where Yoyo has really cracked it! If you analyse the share of checkout in any catering environment where Yoyo is live, we average 50 to 70 percent (trying not to toot the Yoyo horn too much, but that really is unheard of!).