Delicious data.

 

Restaurant chains are a classic example of why an MDM repository shouldn’t become another inert, isolated stovepipe of information. 

Enterworks announced last week that we’ve been selected to create a marketing asset management and Web-to-print portal for one of the brands of a leading restaurant company.  This solution is built on the Enterworks Enable platform for product MDM and multichannel publishing, featuring the Enterworks Portal Framework. 

Sydney restaurant replaces menus with iPads

Picture: Ross Schultz | Source: The Daily Telegraph

The needs of the restaurant industry highlight the importance of going beyond just having a repository for centrally managing master product data and digital assets, to being able to actually use that content in productive applications:

Compliance with regulations.  A growing number of federal and state and local laws require restaurant chains to provide a variety of information about calorie count, ingredients, and nutritional items in their menus.  As an example, new federal laws are about to go into effect that require caloric information be listed with menu items. 

Obviously, it’s important for this information to be accurate and available in a canonical data source.  But the regulations go further than that; they specify that the font and format used for calorie information have to be equivalent in size and prominence as the item name and price.  That requirement goes beyond just managing master data; it goes into publishing that data as well. 

Many restaurants turn menu nutritional requirements into marketing stratagems by using logos or indicia to denote particular menu items, such as “heart-healthy” or vegetarian.  This, too, requires more than just managing data; the MAM solution’s ability to manage and serve digital assets in association with products will also ensure that the correct indicia is used and in place in the menu. 

Localization of menus and promotions.  Tip O’Neill famously said that “All politics is local,” and the same can be said about the restaurant business.  Restaurants are making their way back from the deepest trough of the recession, but they’re still looking for ways to improve business — especially same-store sales. As a recent article in Nation’s Restaurant News puts it:

Local store marketing is still the most effective and least expensive strategy for smart restaurant marketers. Most patrons of your restaurant come from within the three-mile radius, and being a part of the community has never been more important to stand out from the competition. Give your general managers and franchisees tools and tips, and send them into their three-mile radius to introduce themselves.

It’s great to have the buying strength and other advantages that a national chain offers – but nothing beats a store manager’s awareness of local tastes, trends and conditions to enable them to attract new patrons and bring existing customers back.  A marketing asset management system that allows her to create ads, flyers, promotional items, and even menus (locavores, anyone?) that reflect local interests is sure to offer a competitive edge in a soft economy.  

Publishing content to multiple media and channels.  Restaurants are beginning to test the iPad and other tablet devices as replacements for the traditional print menu.  Patrons can literally touch the items they want to order, customize their orders, and the system immediately puts their order into the queue.  These tablet-based systems also track inventory levels, so if a particular dish is sold out, the item automatically disappears from the menu screen.  (No word if an “86” placeholder pops up in its place.)

From the restaurant’s perspective, this not only makes ordering more efficient and customers happier, it also makes it easier and perhaps even cheaper in the long run to keep menus up-to-date, accurate, and compliant by just changing digital content rather than having to re-print for every menu change or every error.

Mobile commerce and social media are also making it more important for restaurants to offer sound product informattion in every channel. SnapFinger and OpenTable have for years allowed customers to review restaurants and make reservations online.  Yelp was an early and popular social tool that allowed patrons to quickly share good (and bad) opinions about eating places. Combined with smart devices and mobile apps, these tools make it easier for your customers to share information (or mis-information) about your offerings in real time. 

Interested in learning more about our capabilities for restaurant companies? You can download our brochure on product information management for the restaurant industry or contact us.

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