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Exit41 has officially launched a new web-based solution that will let Facebook fans of restaurant brands order meals via the social networking site. The app also will let fans on Facebook share and “Like” their favorite menu items within their social network.
The application builds on Exit41’s online and mobile ordering platform, and has been in test for more than five months with concepts such as Wow Bao, Silver Diner, Hello Pasta, Bravo! Cucina Italiana and Famous Dave’s.
“Social media is one of our top initiatives and we are heavily investing in solutions that drive results,” said Aric Nissen, VP Marketing Famous Dave’s, in a news release. “Not only did Exit41 meet all of our ‘checkbox’ feature/function requirements for web and mobile ordering, they were the only vendor to offer a complete social ordering solution. These products complement our own social media strategy perfectly and allow us to maximize investments in this area.”
The Exit41 solution includes an online application optimized for social sharing with Facebook. Facebook “Likes” are posted to the consumer’s profile page and integrated into their social stream, which features a menu item image and description along with a link back to the restaurant’s website.
The second component is a Facebook application that includes an online ordering tab. The tab is added to a restaurant’s Facebook page and lets fans begin the ordering process by adding featured items to their cart before seamlessly completing the order on the restaurant’s online ordering site.
Consumers can also “Share” the online ordering tab within their network, creating a viral marketing opportunity for the restaurant.
The third feature is a mobile application and location-awareness program that leads customers to the closest restaurant that also provides a secure mobile payment option.
Exit41 CEO Joseph Gagnon said the company’s goal is to keep the restaurant industry ahead of the social media curve by providing a way to drive sales and guest loyalty through Facebook. In addition to the first five or six restaurants that have publicly announced their use of the Exit41 solution, Gagnon said at least 50 others are in some stage of product implementation.
For example, Ruby Tuesday’s is preparing to launch the service to drive visits to its Faceboook page and le Madeleine is preparing to officially add the tab to its Facebook page promoting restaurants in the Dallas and Houston markets, he said.
Once the application is posted on a restaurant’s Facbook page, users are redirected to Exit41’s online ordering web page. Guests are then prompted to order and pay through a secure, PCI-compliant system. After the guest order is placed, the ticket is immediately sent to the restaurant’s POS system for order fulfillment.
Gagnon said each transaction that occurs through Facebook will be used to track user history based on individual customer patterns.
“We’re capturing all of this information by customer rather than transaction so you know when they order via Facebook or mobile … and so you can start to see the patterns that are more behavioral,” he said. “You can then start to influence behavior if you know what they’re doing.”
The Facebook application is a new strategy for Exit41 and should prove popular given that more restaurant brands haven’t utilized Facebook as an online ordering vehicle.
“We have to create an awareness in the mind of the consumer that it can be used as another channel to order,” Gagnon said. “What we want the restaurant to be able to do is give their customers the ability to choose whatever interface their customer wants to use in that moment (to order).”
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