3 reasons why a platform approach is the only answer to your digital strategy dilemmas
CMOs in the Hospitality industry are sitting on a technology systems time bomb. The past few years have seen brands in the industry go from tentatively considering web ordering as the next stage of their evolution to a full blown omni-channel land grab frantically testing kiosk, mobile and tablet ordering with suppliers of all shapes and sizes. As lauded as this enthusiasm should be, it has led to many operators facing big digital strategy dilemmas. Should they focus their efforts on one guest-facing channel? To integrate or not to integrate? And indeed, what to integrate? One digital ordering supplier or separate channel ‘specialists’?
This blog addresses these dilemmas head on and boldly nails our colours to a ‘platform-approach’ mast. As self-serving (no pun intended) as this position might be, hear us out, these are our top 3 reasons why taming underlying systems complexities with a wide-reaching, integration platform can solve the digital strategy dilemmas that keep you up at night.
1. One platform to rule them all
Tolkien had the right idea here – “One platform to bring them all and in the darkness, bind them.”
As brands try and reconcile their FOMO by hurried purchases of the latest trending technology with a differentiated customer experience and the complexities of multi-systems integration, they’re recognising the dire need for a better, smarter way of working.
Where the last few years have been about testing various consumer channels such as self-service kiosks with one provider and mobile food ordering and payment apps with another provider, the next few years will be about consolidation. No more spaghetti junction of back end systems, disparate databases and an endless list of different suppliers.
Cue the move towards one simple integration platform. A master data exchange service. This platform approach will be the ultimate translation service for back end systems that previously couldn’t speak to each other. The beauty of this wider integration play is that it is now no longer about the consumer channel – these can be turned on and off as it suits the brand. It is about being able to harness the power of your POS, your existing CRM systems and databases, payment solutions, marketing and loyalty platforms and more and allowing each system to let their particular functionality loose on the front end for the customer’s benefit and for the benefit of your bottom line.
Imagine your CRM being able to inform your loyalty platform about a particular group of high value customers. Your loyalty system then issues highly targeted offers based on the individual customer’s past behaviours. The customer is then able to use their phone, kiosk or tablet to redeem the offer which is logged at the POS, enabled by existing payment technologies and recorded as redeemed in the loyalty system. This type of closed loop activity can only happen with one common underlying platform that can draw information from one system and use it to inform others and vice versa. As your digital strategy develops, this type of master integration platform will only serve to simplify mounting complexities around silo-ed back-end systems.
2. A consistent and differentiated brand experience
As we touched on in the above point, by taking a single platform approach, you can harness the power of all your back-end systems, making the front-end guest experience significantly better. Not only better, but consistent across your brand regardless of how thy choose to interact with you.
The problem many operators have after choosing one provider to do their self-service kiosks and other to do their mobile app and yet another to do their at-table tablet ordering, is that as customers move between channels, their experience isn’t the same. The purchasing flow and look and feel might be noticeably different and that’s damaging to your brand. Customers don’t see your mobile site as different to your website or kiosk journey, they see it all as your brand so consistency really is the key.
Channel consistency aside, a platform approach also allows customers to maintain the context of their journey regardless of channel. For example, a customer might choose to start their browsing on their tablet at home and finish it on their mobile in your restaurant. By allowing guests to continue their journey where they left off on whatever device they choose to use offers huge convenience and brand differentiation.
3. Get more from existing tech investment
POS systems aren’t cheap. Neither are loyalty systems, marketing automation systems or any other back-end technology your brand has invested in. So when it comes to your digital strategy, wouldn’t it be great if you could make the most of your existing technologies without having to reinvent the wheel?
A platform approach allows you to do just that. By unifying your back-end systems and offering the full suite of front-end self-service channels, your brand can get more out of its existing investments. For example, switching on mobile, tablet, web and kiosk self-service channels allows you to effectively bring the POS out of the back of house and into the hands of your customers giving them the power to order what they want, how and when they want it.
Another good example is the ability for an integration platform to pull together marketing automation, CRM, loyalty and other services such as Survey Monkey to offer a complete 360-degree view of your customers. By acting as an exchange service for these technologies and offering multiple touchpoints through web, mobile and kiosk, you have the power to completely transform your brand’s digital success. You will have in-depth, highly detailed information about your customers, their behaviours and preferences. You can use this data and emerging trends to boost marketing and loyalty campaigns and communications and you will more easily be able to manage analytics and reporting.
As the technology landscape for Hospitality gets more saturated, diverse and complicated, we see a unifying platform approach as a truly effective antidote to the pains of separate, often expensive and non-integrated back-end solutions. From brand consistency and consumer experience to channel flexibility and maximising the potential of existing technologies, it’s hard to see another way forward for brands looking to successfully evolve and innovate their digital strategy.
Stay tuned for a blog post coming soon specifically for you CXO and CMO types. This post will focus on the front-end benefits and how it can really transform the guest-experience by capitalising on this back-end platform set-up.