By now you’ve probably heard of the term, Big Data. Technology is making it possible to collect the  information that we are producing all the time and to analyse it for different reasons. Big Data has been used for a range of purposes from medical (using DNA analysis to inform medical decisions) to rescuing people in natural disasters (by making disaster maps based on tweets). It can also provide an insight into consumer needs by supplying information on spending that can be used to tailor business offerings. So how can Big Data be used in the restaurant industry?

The information revelation

Before data on consumer spending became available, marketing was a bit like taking a shot in the dark. Now that restaurants can track spending, they are in a better position to make changes that will benefit their businesses. Restaurant owners can use information to make decisions on advertising, menu offerings and server behaviour.

Let the numbers talk

Analytics and data can also help restaurant owners decide what to serve when (like a salad buffet at lunchtime, or ice cream in summer), or when more servers might be needed during busy periods. Technology provided by Big Data can help restaurant owners to promote their specials and match them to demographics. Restaurateurs no longer have to rely on their intuition or learn by trial and error.

Pick out problems

Big Data also helps you to become aware of problem areas. For example, you could look at your sales reports and notice that an item often shows up on bills as being voided. This information is valuable to restaurant owners because every void is a loss in earnings. Investigating the reason for the void with back-of-house staff might show the item is not being prepared properly or that the ingredients are not fresh – this gives restaurant owners the opportunity to rectify the issue. Restaurant owners can also monitor servers’ performances by checking up on their sales and tips.

Marketing plans for different target segments

Different target segments have different preferences and activities and Big Data can help restaurant owners devise marketing strategies especially for them. For instance, knowing that pizza-loving Millennials spend a large portion of their time on social media every week, they can ensure that their pizza adverts appear on social media and specifically target this age group.

Focus on the regulars

Regular customers are an important part of a restaurant’s success. Big Data can help restaurant owners ensure that they stay close to their customers’ hearts by providing information from repeat customers. This helps servers to make suggestions on new items their regulars might like. You can also provide regular customers with loyalty points or coupons.

Monitor your inventory

When it comes to inventory, Big Data can also save restaurant owners big bucks. Restaurants that cook food using fresh ingredients can make use of information so  they can order the correct amount to prevent left-over ingredients from going to waste. Gone are the days when restaurants relied on projections, previous orders, expected sales, shelf lives, the chef’s gut feeling, or other evidence that can be unreliable. Technology can alert restaurant owners when stocks are running low to ensure they can always serve up their signature dish.