Sponsored by Koala
What started as a necessary pivot during the COVID crisis has now become a critical mainstay of the restaurant business. Online, app-based, and other digital ordering solutions have risen to the status of essential operational features for quick-service, fast-casual, and even select casual and fine dining brands. These kinds of technologies have also become major deciding factors for franchisees when selecting which brand to sign with, and for how many units.
“There are a lot of new operators entering the market, spurred by multiple brands pursuing aggressive expansion plans in an effort to grow or reclaim market share,” says Brett Spiegel, Co-Founder and COO for Koala, which offers options for online (web-based) ordering, app-based ordering, machine learning for predicting ordering trends, and other supportive technologies. “Having an intuitive plug-and-play system like Koala in place eliminates what can otherwise be a significant barrier to entry for some operators.”
With restaurant brands readily expanding into new territories, getting new franchises online as quickly as possible has become a priority. The market landscape is too competitive for restaurants to launch with dine-in-only business while waiting on digital solutions. In the typical 10- to 12-week timeframe needed to launch a new tech solution from scratch, multiple other brands may successfully launch both in-person and digital ordering and corner a portion of the audience. “Franchisees want to be first to market whenever they can, and Koala allows brands to offer that advantage to new prospects as well as existing franchisees eager to compete on new levels”, adds Spiegel.
This situation is particularly true for brands in highly competitive segments, and for those located in major metropolitan areas, where competition also comes from ‘mom and pop’ style dining venues. For fast-casual restaurant chain Capriotti’s, the Koala online ordering platform has helped optimize the scope and functionality of its off-premise business.
“Choosing the right partners that align with your mission, vision and values for long term success is probably the most critical decision an operator has to make”, comments Jane McPherson, SVP of Marketing of Capriotti’s and Wing Zone. “Koala’s enhancement of our UX has proven effective at increasing conversion and driving check size, which is a massive benefit for our franchise partners.”
Capriotti’s is focused on making sure that their extraordinary sandwiches stand out in a rapidly evolving marketplace, and with Koala’s more than 200 updates in a year, the brand has an online ordering experience that is optimized and consistent across the entire brand, in all locations.
Koala’s product recommendation engine is transforming cross-selling for restaurant brands by using machine learning algorithms to better guide guests through the ordering process. The outcome is an immediate impact on order size and conversion rates.
At its core, an affinity mapping engine tracks sales of popular items, cross-references it against specific menu items that are most often purchased together, then applies those recommendations to the guest's existing order experience. The algorithm analyzes ordering data every 24 hours and automatically adjusts the rules, creating dynamic product pairings on the fly. The result is a digital recommendation tool that outperforms traditional if/then ordering systems by a ratio of 2 to 1.
Fast-growing Southern California-based WaBa Grill experienced a 2.5% increase in average order value after launching machine learning on the Koala platform.
“Technology plays a major role in strengthening WaBa Grill’s brand,” explains Adam Kinsigner, Director of Technology of Waba Grill. “Partnering with Koala has not only enhanced the guest experience, but also increased revenue generated by cross-sells”.
Koala’s machine-learning algorithm has analyzed more than 2.5 million orders, collecting approximately 6.7 million individual data points. Brands that enable machine-learning on Koala benefit from as much as 63% more revenue generated by cross-sells and an increase of 13% of orders with cross-sells.
“Imagine being able to offer franchisees the power to make up-sells without the expense of printing counter cards, drive-thru posters, direct mail, or other means,” says Spiegel. “If you were considering one restaurant that offered such a benefit and another which did not, who would you be more likely to choose?”
For more information about the Koala restaurant platform, please visit www.koala.io.