Location-based technology can help you create unique and tailored dining experiences for customers

Beacons give you the power to encourage repeat visits and better engage patrons through their smartphones

The possibilities are endless with beacon technology. Imagine a “free gourmet coffee with $5 order” message, beamed directly to your customers’ smartphones as they drive or walk by your store.


Just as it takes several ingredients to make a pizza, pizzeria operators need a combination of several well-planned strategies to distinguish their stores from competitors. Tailored marketing efforts can provide that distinction, from coupon offerings and community fundraisers to social media marketing and unique collateral. While all of these tactics can be effective, there’s another ingredient that could help take your marketing efforts to an entirely new level: beacon technology.

Beacons are small, portable devices that can be placed anywhere in a restaurant or nearby location. The technology relies on a smartphone’s Bluetooth connection to transmit information directly to a mobile app listening for the beacon’s signal. If that sounds a little too futuristic—and expensive—for your tastes, don’t worry: These devices can be quite cost-effective, with the average beacon running around $25, and can be purchased through mobile solutions companies that often provide the needed software to program and manage the messages being delivered. (The technology can also be integrated into a POS system with a USB port.)

For this location-based marketing innovation, the customer must first download an app—either your pizzeria’s own branded app or a universal one—that will listen for the beacon’s signal. Once the beacon is initially connected and the customer opts in to receive information, the beacon will automatically begin delivering messages to the customer’s smartphone. Messages are delivered each time a connected smartphone passes by a beacon, regardless of whether the app is open or not. In other words, if the customer happens to be in range of your beacon’s signal, he will automatically receive a targeted message from your pizzeria via his smartphone. Beacons essentially create a “tap on your customer’s shoulder,” sending marketing information, such as store coupons, daily specials or other promotional messages, to the device each time the customer visits that location.

Beacons create a “tap on your customer’s shoulder,” sending coupons, daily specials or other tailored promotional messages to customers’ mobile devices when they’re in the area.


Implementing Beacon Technology

Already in use by retailers, beacon technology has the potential to revolutionize pizza marketing. Beacons empower pizzeria owners to better engage tech-savvy customers and encourage repeat visits. There is no reason to worry about invasion of privacy—the customers have to opt in to receive your messages and can opt out at any time.

Here are five ways that beacon technology can help boost your sales and drive repeat business:

Delivering a Strong Marketing Message

Using beacons, you can ping customers with marketing messages when they enter the store or pass nearby. For example, offering a discounted price for an appetizer can entice customers in the area to stop in for lunch or dinner at your pizzeria. Once they step inside, you can instantly send a thank-you message with a special “buy one, get one half off” deal for their next visit to encourage their continued patronage and build positive rapport.


Providing Real-Time Service Updates

In today’s fast-paced world, consumers prefer restaurants that provide quick and efficient service, no matter the time of day or how busy the restaurant is. What if beacons could let your customers know what the current wait times are for takeout orders or table availability even before they entered? By installing beacons a few blocks away or in the parking lot, pizzerias can provide this real-time information to customers, helping them to make better purchasing and experiential choices. While this might occasionally turn away potential guests on busy nights, it could also lure them in on slower nights, and your pizzeria’s transparency will leave a positive, lasting impact on the customer for future visits. 


Getting Customer Feedback

Remaining transparent and focusing on improving customer experience should be top priorities for any pizzeria owner. Beacons can assist in gaining feedback on diners’ experiences by asking guests as they exit to fill out a short satisfaction survey. Customers can then state their comments and opinions in real time directly to the establishment without any direct confrontation. By asking for this feedback, restaurants show how much they care, and patrons will appreciate that.


Improving Ordering and Payment Service

Tableside beacon technology has the ability to provide ordering and payment options right at the table. The customer simply has to move his mobile device by the table beacon to pull up a menu via an app notification. Customers can browse the menu and begin ordering drinks or appetizers without delay. At the end of their meal, they can even pay the bill right from their phones. Beacons can complement in-person service by allowing guests to begin the ordering process at their own convenience and to pay and leave without having to wait. Tailoring the in-store experience in this way accommodates the desire of today’s customers for self-service options.


Behavioral Analytics

The more information a restaurant has about its patrons, the better it can adjust menus and promotions to meet their needs and wants. When a customer opts in, the technology will begin collecting data every time he receives a message, fills out a feedback survey or uses the tableside beacons. By learning how each customer prefers to engage with the restaurant via the technology, pizzeria owners will gain insight into visitors’ unique behavior, wants, needs and preferences. Owners can target guests more strategically and ultimately provide a better customer experience, increasing overall diner frequency.

Finally, it’s important to note that not all beacons have to deliver the same message. You can have two separately programmed beacons by the door, one to greet customers and the other to thank them as they leave. This approach engages customers as they enter and leave the establishment. Of course, no one wants to be overloaded with information, but used in moderation and appropriately, beacons can help create unique and tailored dining experiences. Consider implementing this ingredient in your marketing pie this year, and you’ll be sure to see some tasty results! 


Andrew Levi is the founder, chairman of the board, CEO and chief technology officer of Blue Calypso, an innovator in the development and delivery of location-enabled mobile engagement solutions. Using its patented cloud-based platform, Blue Calypso solutions elevate the consumer shopping experience through an engaging in-store mobile immersion, while capturing real-time shopper behavioral analytics for retailers and brands.


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