What’s the future of technology in relation to the food industry, and more specifically, to restaurants? This is a question we often ask ourselves. At the end of the day, in order to stay relevant and top-of-mind, being a few steps ahead of the game is one of the major keys to a successful business – that applies to any market. Case-in-point: Blackberry’s lack of innovation has led them to a severely dismal state. Years ago, the company was a huge player in the mobile market until Apple – one of the most influential innovators of our time – came out with the iPhone. A computer company swooping its way to the top of the mobile ranks? Who would have thunk? Steve Jobs, that’s who. Apple was able to see the future of mobile without anyone else laying it out for them. And it’s a risk, for sure. But risks are ultimately what shift a niche market from good to better. As Jobs famously said in a commencement speech, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
iBeacon: A Hands-Free Check-In
If you want to know where the future of technology is going, Apple (again) has something to show for it, as does Foodable (specifically for the restaurant industry). Imagine a mobile world where check-ins were no longer a necessity in location-based actions. What if a retailer could, through a small device, track a consumer’s habits, reveal in-store promotions as the consumer walked through the front door, or remind someone to grab milk when they walk by the dairy section of a grocery store? This is the future.
Apple’s iBeacon technology, which was announced in the summer of 2013 and has been built into its operating systems ever since, is essentially a transmitter that picks up on whether a smartphone is nearby. These transmitters are low-cost and low-energy, running on Bluetooth LE. Connected with the built-in smartphone software, which provides opt-in actions like push button alerts to your smartphone, the consumer experience is now being driven by the retailer or business owner.
VenueBeacon: The Next Era of Restaurant Tech
With this iBeacon development comes VenueBeacon, a DigitalCoCo (sister company to Foodable) product for the restaurant & hospitality industry. VenueBeacon works in conjunction to our proprietary Restaurant Social Media Index data, which currently tracks more than 55 million U.S. consumers across 17 social platforms. We tie all mobile actions to the Index to match up every visit from every mobile user on low energy Bluetooth devices. Since the beacons broadcast only a tiny amount of information, we fetch signal matches to our RSMI cloud-based storage of social consumer and pair with restaurant behavior in your location.
The benefits of using VenueBeacon? The small device allows those in the restaurant & hospitality space to measure sidewalk traffic (are people spending time in front of your location but not going in?), measure time in store by zones (in which areas are guests spending most time?), competitive habit tracking (where are your customers dining outside of your location?), and other various consumer data.
As was laid out in our 2014 Predictions: Branding & Social Culture blog, in 2014, we expect predictive analysis to take over when it comes to consumer social behavior. When dealing with check-ins and social media conversations that are directed by a brand itself, who’s to say a consumer is being honest regarding sentiment? Anyone can wear a mask and control who they are on different platforms. A lot of the time, hype plays into this facade. For example, a hot new restaurant that’s gotten a lot of coverage and nods from the who’s who crowd, may cause consumers to play into the hype, whether their experience at that restaurant was great or not.
Big Brother-esque as it may sound, as the old adage goes, “actions speak louder than words.” And beginning this year, tracking consumer behavior – how consumers act, what they search, and where they actually go – will become more important than what they say.
For more information about DigitalCoCo’s VenueBeacon, click here.