In New York City, Restaurants Welcome Tables for One

Customers dine at Boqueria for lunch. The Spanish restaurant’s tapas, or grazing-style menu, appeals to solo patrons.

In New York City restaurants, the party-of-one is becoming a cause for celebration.

OpenTable, the online reservation platform, said that bookings by solo diners at restaurants in the city jumped by 80% from 2014 to 2018. And while OpenTable said those parties-of-one represent a very small slice of overall bookings, some restaurants said that business from solo diners can now account for up to 10% of their sales.

Even on Valentine’s Day, the most couple-oriented dining occasion of the year, New York restaurants are making room for patrons dining alone. OpenTable said that Valentine’s Day solo reservations in 2018 increased by 33% over the previous year. And perhaps for good reason: Restaurants said solo customers represent the ideal, as they are truly there for the food and experience rather than the social occasion.

“The way we approach it is that when we have a solo diner, it’s more of an honor than anyone else,” said Andrew Kuhl, the dining-room manager at Eleven Madison Park, the Michelin-starred restaurant in Manhattan’s Flatiron District.

Restaurants are doing their part to encourage such business. At such establishments as L’Artusi, an Italian restaurant in the West Village, and Odo, a Japanese spot in the Flatiron District, solo diners are given a free offering—say, a small serving of an off-menu item or a glass of sparkling wine. And on Valentine’s Day, some restaurants said they make an extra effort to welcome the solo crowd. For example, at Jones Wood Foundry, a food-driven pub on the Upper East Side, a communal table is set aside for party-of-one diners.

View more here.

Survey: Walmart builds on largest share of grocery loyalty

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“Walmart is quickly extending its grocery dominance in brick-and-mortar into the online realm.

Consumer market researcher Packaged Facts said Thursday that 23% of online grocery consumers cited Walmart as the retailer they use most for groceries. That’s second only to Amazon, named by 38% of purchasers, according to Packaged Facts’ “U.S. Grocery Market Focus: The Walmart Shopper” report.

About 27% of in-store grocery purchasers said Walmart is the brick-and-mortar retailer they get groceries from most — over two times as many as Kroger, the next most cited retailer, the study revealed.

In a relatively short time, Walmart has transformed itself into an omnichannel retailer by accelerating investment in e-commerce to develop a seamless shopping experience between its massive store base and digital properties, Packaged Facts noted. What’s more, Walmart has turned its thousands of stores — an apparent cost disadvantage versus pure-play online retailers — into a competitive strength in distribution, the researcher said.”

Read more here.

Simple Tactics for Building a Solid Business Reputation

“According to new studies, one of the top ways you can go the extra mile for your customers is by personalizing their shopping experiences.

One report predicted that by 2020, the customer experience will be more important than price and product when it comes to setting your brand apart. And according to another source, this data is already starting to take effect. Forty-four percent of consumers said a personalized shopping experience would likely result in brand loyalty.

Going the extra mile for your customers by making sure their shopping experience is memorable isn’t just a recent trend, though. Treating customers as individuals has always been essential for business reputations. Who wants to talk to someone who is ushering them out the door? Some other ways you can show customers you care is by listening to complaints, rectifying problems, and establishing a loyalty program for small business.”

See more here.

A Restaurant Brand Creator on How to Keep People Coming Back

“Sue Chan is the founder and chief executive officer of Care of Chan, a two-year-old brand management agency that has worked with a hit list of restaurants including Alta, Cosme, Una Pizza Napoletana, and Wildair to create that all-important but so-hard-to-capture great restaurant experience. Chan was previously the brand director at Momofuku for seven years.

At her own company, Chan focuses in on everything that makes a memorable restaurant experience the type of place that customers want to keep returning to again and again. While there’s no set formula for creating that unforgettable experience, once it’s in place it can drive sales and longterm customer loyalty like no quick-hitting press coverage can. “It doesn’t matter if you’re on Bon Appetit’s top ten, you could close in a year or two,” Chan explained. “That is a real thing that happens a lot. It’s more about just caring about the actual customers who come in every single day, and focusing on that community and building that community.”

See full interview here.

 

Leveraging Mobile Technology

Retail TouchPoints and MicroStrategy have partnered together to show new ways retailers can leverage mobile technology at a competitive advantage. Having a sound mobile app strategy can help to improve revenue, productivity and loyalty while also controlling and managing costs.  The average consumer will glance at their mobile device over 150 times per day, so being able to leverage mobile technology will definitely create an impact on revenue. Below are five important benefits of a winning mobile app strategy:

  • Boost customer loyalty.
  • Achieve operational efficiencies.
  • Drive Sales
  • Enhance customer experience

The Container Store and Gucci are two very different brands that both use MicroStrategy Mobile to improve store operations and transform the customer’s experience. To watch two great videos on how these brands have leveraged mobile app technology to improve productivity and revenue, click here

Coffee Operators Driving Revenue Through Mobile Payments

There is a definite compatibility between specialist coffee shops and mobile payments due to the fact that their primary product is purchased at such a high frequency. Consumers purchase coffee daily (often multiple repeat purchases per day) and would benefit from a streamlined payment method and loyalty programs such as can be offered by mobile payment solutions. The consumer demographic is also most likely to participate in the mobile payment methods as it consists mostly of young students interested in technology and consumers who have easy access to mobile technologies.

While Starbucks was the first to launch its well-known loyalty program and mobile payment app years ago, third-party mobile payment technologies are now cropping up targeting independent coffee shops to help them drive revenue and better compete with larger chains such as Starbucks. CUPS is one example of a third-party mobile payment apps designed to engage consumers by providing incentives through loyalty programs that offer discounts and special offers based on their purchase history. BeansUP is another recently launched innovative app that allows consumers to set coffee pick-up times; this will allow for an enhanced consumer experience as the product is prepaid and the guest can avoid peak hour lines and pick up their coffee directly at the counter.

The increased demand for efficient, streamlined transactions will only continue to grow and these mobile technologies definitely help meet this need. In order for consumers to adopt mobile payment methods they must first be intrigued by the incentives and sign up for a subscription to their preferred coffee shop’s mobile app. As consumer engagement increases so too will the use of mobile payments and therefore help to drive traffic and revenues.

To read more about these two new innovative mobile payment technologies, click here

 

Consumer Demand for Customization

Berge Simonian was a franchise owner in Houston when he noticed a popular trend starting to really take off: custom made salad. He decided to to create a brand, Salata, to be part of this fast growing trend. There are now 30+ Salatas in Texas and California and Chicago is next. According to David Laborde, director of product development, another 15 are set to open by the end of the year. Laborde believes that this rapid growth is driven mostly by the the consumer demand for customization which can easily be fulfilled at a salad-bar type concept. Of course Salata’s momentum is also backed by superior quality of ingredients and brand exposure.

Laborde has also observed a few other trends coming to the surface. Apart from clean, healthy customizable eating, Salata has also been incorporating more vegetarian protein options such as grains, tofu and falafel based on customer demand.  There is also a growing trend for different sauces and spice; not just hot spices but more globally influenced spices such as African and Indian flavors. Another focus of the product development team has been creating beverages unique to Salata. Flavored teas and lemonades are popular at Salata as they are a healthier option to fountain sodas which don’t really fit well with the brand.

To read more about how Salata creates loyal customers by keeping up with consumer demand click here