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Pizza operators have had it good for years. No other restaurant business has the ability to track customer data as accurately as a delivery operation that gets the customer's name, address, order preferences and purchasing frequency — marketing gold others only dream about.

Ever seen a state-of-the-art, point-of-sale system at work in a pizza shop? It's darn-near Orwellian. A customer rings the pizzeria and caller I.D. brings their name to the order taker's screen. Right before her is that customer's name and order history, allowing her to make upsell pitches ... "Did you like the hot wings you ordered last time? How about trying the barbecued wings this time? They're on special tonight."

If the pizzeria utilizes online ordering, it can go even further by getting customers' birthdates (and sending them a text, email or push notification freebie) and encouraging them to nickname regular order bundles in their accounts (Dad's Favorite = large sausage and onion, garlic bread, 2-liter of soda). Using a favorite, ordering from customers' mobile phones is a one-click pick because their credit card info is stored online.

What's just as powerful is using this same data to reengage customers who haven't purchased in a while. The POS system can be programed to notify the operator that Mr. Smith hasn't ordered in 30 days, giving him the option of emailing, texting or sending a push notification to Mr. Smith. It could be a "We miss you" offer based on his past orders ... something like, "Long time no eat! Order your favorite large sausage and onion with garlic bread, and the Pepsi's on us."

But why would the pizza operator even wait for the customer to become "lazy" when he has the ability to target him directly and regularly? In his blog titled, "The case for a monthly social cadence," marketing expert Marko Muellner recommends retailers use product promotion in a strategic and repetitive fashion that trains customers to expect regular offers.

"(A) monthly cadence of product-specific marketing is what really drives success. The more integrated your product promotion, messaging, experiences and offers are with the cadence of social-mobile customers, the more successful your efforts will become."

Notice how Muellner mentions "social-mobile customers," folks on the go and dependent on their smartphones — not desktop computers — for communication. (Again, the pizza guys have it good here because many are longtime users of mobile ordering apps.) With push notifications fast becoming the preferred means of third-party messaging, restaurateurs using this tool have a distinct advantage in reaching customers where they are at all times.

What the POS databank also provides operators is an accurate measurement of every promotion's success. If they send 1,000 customers a particular offer, they know for certain that 200 bought it. They also know that sales data is permanently linked to those customers' preferences, giving them more and richer information about how to market to their fans. Samir Wagle, chief operating officer at Boudin Bakeries, wants to mine such data regularly to lead regular customers to new options.

"We already know what they like, so when we introduce something new that's similar, we want to present them with an offer to try it," said Wagle. "So for a customer who likes turkey cranberry sandwich, we want to be able to offer our new chicken sandwich. If they respond positively, we will know we're on to something. If not, we return to what worked before."

With such precision available through POS and smartphone technology, why would anyone choose to market blindly through print advertising whose effectiveness is nearly impossible to measure accurately? Compared to modern options now widely available, it's at best a low-tech gamble that yields no customer data for future marketing.

In short, wise operators use automated electronic data gathering to reengage customers based on established purchases. Building on that information, they market new and similar products customers might like through non-intrusive messaging, such as push notifications, texting or emails. And with every promotion, they measure effectiveness. More measurement means more accuracy, which means more satisfied customers — and more profits, of course.

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Latest posts by Jitendra Gupta
Jitendra Gupta
Jitendra Gupta is CEO of Punchh, a mobile CRM suite that includes branded mobile apps for campaigns, games, loyalty, online ordering, payments, referrals, reviews, gift cards, surveys, and integrates with social networks and operators’ POS systems to gather 360° customer insights. Punchh helps restaurants increase same store sales and profitability by driving repeat visits, word of mouth, new customer referrals, and higher returns from marketing campaigns.
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