Pepsi's new Digital Lab will help restaurants understand customers. Source: Shutterstock

Pepsi’s new Digital Lab will help restaurants understand customers. Source: Shutterstock

Pepsi builds new digital data platform to help restaurants

RESTAURANTS understand the need to go digital because of their direct interaction with customers, but aside from accepting digital payment and setting up an online presence, most seem to be struggling with their digital transformation.

This is especially true for smaller restaurant owners with either a single establishment or a small chain in a few cities.

Pepsi-owner PepsiCo understands this. The food and beverage company, a part of whose sales are closely tied to the success of restaurants, therefore, has recently launched a new “Foodservice Digital Lab”.

The aim of the digital initiative is to provide restaurant owners with intelligent insights about their customers and to help them understand how technology adoption can improve the experience they provide.

According to PepsiCo, this is a first-of-its-kind suite of capabilities built to connect foodservice operators with the companies, services, insights, and solutions best suited for their specific digital and online needs.

The Foodservice Digital Lab has been created after conducting thorough proprietary and syndicated research into restaurant and food ordering interactions as part of the consumer digital journey.

PepsiCo collaborated with customers and partners, such as Grubhub, to identify and remedy friction points restaurants experience when fulfilling online ordering and delivery for beverages and snacks.

The team also talked with vendors providing loyalty and digital consumer engagement services to find opportunities to improve incremental occasions for brands and deliver personalized experiences that delight consumers.

“PepsiCo is helping our customers stay ahead of the curve in regard to understanding the latest technology and consumer trends impacting the foodservice industry,” claimed PepsiCo Foodservice Global CMO Scott Finlow.

“With the customer-focused Digital Lab, we created a one-stop service for operators to access the resources and knowledge needed to drive a better consumer experience and impactful business results in the digital era.”

PepsiCo’s press release reveals that its Foodservice Digital Lab aims to help restaurant owners and operators identify and deploy technology solutions that benefit their business through four elements:

# 1 | Digital insights

Using proprietary and partner inputs, PepsiCo will share unique insights with its customers, including the digital habits of their target demographics.

# 2 | Digital Playbooks

The Lab will provide operators with comprehensive solutions to make digital tools approachable, achievable, and effective for businesses of any size – from the small pizza place on the corner to global quick serve food chains.

# 3 | Digital Activation

PepsiCo will partner with operators to optimize the execution and activation of digital solutions such as online ordering and delivery platforms to increase beverage and snack sales.

# 4 | Digital Innovation

Tapping into tools like voice, augmented reality, and machine learning, PepsiCo will experiment with the latest digital innovations and build into practice through customers’ platforms.

Do restaurant owners really need data-driven insights?

“The digital age has disrupted everything – including the way people order, eat and experience food and beverages,” said PepsiCo’s Finlow.

As a result, it’s obvious that restaurants need to do more with technology in order to provide a better experience to customers and meet expectations.

According to a recent study of 1,108 diners, it’s the overall experience, not the taste of the food, that dictates their lasting impression of the meal.

Many, for example, love the fact that voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa can help them find restaurants near them and read out reviews, that local apps can help make reservations, and that chatbots created by restaurant operators can help answer questions about ingredients to help manage allergies.

Of course, there’s a lot that can be done with digital in the restaurant space — but understanding which must be a priority and make an immediate impact on customers is a challenge.

In fact, a recent survey of foodservice operators found that nearly half (47 percent) felt unsure about the longevity of emerging technology and whether it’s here to stay. Still, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) say they plan to upgrade their foodservice tech in some ways this year.

Many respondents, however, expressed frustration about the time and energy needed to research and onboard the best solutions for their business.

With help from PepsiCo’s ecosystem and possibly through better dissemination of information and research from restaurant technology vendors in the market, this gap will soon be filled, allowing restaurants to continue to delight customers in the digital age.