I recently asked out loud whether beacons, or iBeacons in the specific case of Apple, make sense in restaurants.
(And then I said yes, they do and gave you a handful of scenarios.)
And yes, to reiterate: beacons rely on apps to operate. You’ll ultimately have to have a custom app with some beacon provider’s SDK built-in to pull this off. Pulsate, Footmarks, Estimote, Swirl, there are many out there to take a look at.
Despite the mindset that they’re a retailer-focused opportunity, I can’t help but imagine how they’ll be used by enterprising restaurateurs. In this post I’m going to outline three more specific scenarios that I can picture.
Cafe, Coffee shop, or QSR? Let your customer order ahead, but don’t prepare the order until they’re close.
Footmarks gives this exact scenario as one the ways their solution can be used with in-venue beacons.
It would be a frustrating experience for a customer to order online or via mobile app when they’re away from your location, only to have to wait for their coffee or their lunch when they arrive. That undermines the whole point.
Install a long-range beacon, and when they’re within some customized distance from your location — and only then — your kitchen or baristas get pinged to start cracking.
Short wait, if any, for the customer, and your restaurant team is only building the meal when it’s the right time.
Casual dining? Ping a customer with one of their preferred favorites when they’re nearby between certain times.
Imagine one of your loyal customers having trouble deciding between a couple entrees on her last visit. She could bookmark the other one in your app. When she’s near your location the next time and dinner is drawing near, an automatic push notification could gently remind her of that and invite her in, with or without a coupon.
With some of these burgeoning beacon providers, their software will allow you to setup geofences that trigger app notifications separate from the beacon. So, how about the above scenario being triggered only when that loyal customer is, say, strolling down a “restaurant alley” you’ve pre-designated that’s away from your location? Crazy, isn’t it? But it’s absolutely possible — and not blue-sky.
She’s about to eat somewhere else — and you entice with your offer and that favorite she was wanting to try.
Sports bar? Trigger customized, automated push notifications based on their last visit.
Let’s say you’ve influenced a customer to download your sports bar’s app — unlocking fun and interesting drinks they can learn how to mix at home, a secret menu for their next visit, and the ability to guarantee a seat when you televise the next UFC fight.
All of those are awesome use cases. But want to make a customer love you while selling more?
Give them a free hangover remedy if they stop by in the morning, after a late night the night before. Sure, they’re going to sleep in if they were in your location until 2:00 a.m. You could send automated push notifications with different remedies on different days of the week — or forget the freebie and the sell latest energy drink.
Get them to swing back by in the morning not for another drink, but to love how you took care of them!