CEO: EMN8 rebrands to keep up with digital, international trends
Digital ordering and engagement platform provider EMN8 announced its rebranding today. Effective immediately, the company will now be known as Tillster. The move comes after the company acquired Snapfinger in the summer, and raised $50M to accelerate growth both domestically and internationally.
The new name is derived from the word "till," a common reference to "check" in the restaurant industry. The company will continue to work with its heavy-hitting roster of chain restaurants, including Burger King, California Pizza Kitchen, Domino's, Subway, McAlister's and Yum! Brands, and will even extend services to their international businesses in some cases.
"We started as a kiosk company and over the past 2½ years, we've invested heavily to transform to a full digital company. When we brought Snapfinger in, the timing became perfect to rebrand and to tell the story of what the company is today," said Tillster CEO Perse Faily, adding that the $50M in funding is being used to focus on continued growth, digital platforms and international business.
"When you work with large, global brands, you have to make sure you have the right resources in place to support them and we're fortunate enough to be expanding internationally," she said.
Loyalty program added
Additionally, the company announced the launch of a new loyalty application, which adds to its suite of services that includes kiosk, online, mobile, call center, tablet and group ordering. Tillster's first two loyalty customers will be announced shortly.
Having a loyalty solution in place will help marketers have a "real view" of purchasing behavior, Faily said. "From our perspective, it's a toolkit to help brands have a relationship with their consumers. It's focusing on their behavior rather than pushing items," she said.
Being able to track loyalty data — whether through coupon use, purchase history, points collected, etc. — personalizes the experience for customers, which is what they want now, according to the company.
The loyalty feature will also be available through multiple channels, which hits on another trend.
"Some days, customers will want to order food online. Other days, they may want to do it from their mobile device, or stop in on their way home. Customers are now ordering food whenever and however they want, and this loyalty program is all on the same platform, which reduces complexity for them and makes it easier — habitual — for them to come back," Faily said. "That's the goal for all brands."
According to Tillster, 45 percent of customers said they would visit a restaurant more frequently if it had a loyalty incentive. That number rises for younger customers, who expect such a program.
Loyalty just one growing trend
In addition to a demand for loyalty programs, the accelerated use of digital and mobile channels by consumers has led to a handful of other trends infiltrating the restaurant industry. Faily provided an overview of these trends, from her perspective.
One-to-one marketing."The challenge brands have now is, 'how do we go from mass marketing to targeted marketing?' Brands need to think about how they engage with customers on a personal level because that is the most effective way to drive behaviors they want from those customers," she said.
As an extension of personalized promotions, marketing departments are now "a partner at the table," Faily said, alongside IT and operations.
Mobile."Obviously there is a lot of interest in mobile and a significant interest in taking loyalty and other services to mobile. The intersection of mobile and online is significant," she said. Most major brands will have deployed a mobile component by next year, including loyalty and ordering, she predicts. Others will have moved on to more robust applications.
"For example, having totally personalized menus indicating preferences, will add to the customer engagement demand," Faily said. "So, someone who has a gluten-free diet will be able to call up relevant brands and menus when they go to order on their device."
Kiosks.When Tillster first started as EMN8 in 2002, its main focus was kiosks. With the advent of mobile and online technologies, the interest in kiosks hasn't dwindled as much as some may think. Some brands continue to use the technology for in-store ordering and line-busting. Nontraditional locations are also adding kiosks, providing a way for brands to extend their reach beyond their traditional brick-and-mortar locations. There are kiosks in university dorms (see: Domino's), military barracks and hotel lobbies, for example.
Outside of the U.S., kiosks are even more popular as the drive-thru footprint is significantly smaller. Faily said international markets are opposite U.S. markets in terms of drive-thru versus in-store dining business. Kiosks provide a solution for many brands during high-traffic dayparts.
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Alicia Kelso / Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with FastCasual.com, QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.