From brick-and-mortar to mobile to social, today’s consumers are used to operating in a seamless world. Pretty much every industry has had to adapt to these consumer expectations, including food retailers and restaurants.

Often, the conversation about seamless consumer experiences is focused around e-commerce and mobile technology, but what about the other types of technology that have been developed around this concept? Cognitive computing, virtual reality and robotics are just some examples of the kinds of consumer-facing technologies businesses are using to create the most seamless consumer experience possible. So how are retailers and restaurants incorporating these technologies into their operations?

Cognitive computing
Cognitive computing is a new era of smart technology that uses machine learning to decipher consumer preferences and use that information to curate personalized experiences. The most famous use of cognitive computing is IBM’s Watson technology, but the field is growing and now there are opportunities for retailers to incorporate the technology into the shopping experience, both online and in stores. (read more…)

So you want to start recycling, but you don’t have a clue how to start.

Earlier, we suggested recycling your back-of-the-house cardboard as an easy first step. If you’re ready to take it further, consider the five steps outlined in a new Foodservice Packaging Recovery Toolkit from the Foodservice Packaging Institute and the National Restaurant Association.

Tune into our free April 21 webinar for more details on these steps:

It is easy to overlook what actually caused most of today’s market share-leading iconic brands to get where they are. While marketing and branding play an important role in the growth of any consumer facing business, it is very easy, in retrospect, to ascribe an unfair share of credit for a food product’s eventual success to its brand. After all, when you consider the youthful days of former niche players like Chobani, Kashi, Stacy’s, vitaminwater, few would argue they are stuff for case studies in excellent works of branding.

It’s no secret that young, especially premium brands, are increasingly making inroads on established, legacy food and beverage brands in the American market. As legacy brand market share continues to slump, we find that industry leaders are beginning to acknowledge a long-ignored truth: their companies’ portfolios are fully stocked with older, legacy brands that operate fundamentally differently in modern food culture than younger, entrepreneurial upstarts. (read more…)

The foodservice industry is taking major steps to increase consumer trust with the development of thorough, automated, and vigilant food traceability programs. This is important now more than ever, as recent and highly publicized food recalls are still fresh in the minds of consumers. If a six-year old boy and his parents come into a Subway restaurant once a week and order sandwiches, they should always have the information they need about their food at their fingertips, and be reassured they will eat the highest quality product. How can we as an industry be confident that the food we sell to our loyal customers is safe and traceable?

It is this focus on our customers that has helped propel forward the food traceability program currently underway at the Independent Purchasing Cooperative (IPC), a Subway franchisee-owned and operated purchasing cooperative. IPC is a member of the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative, a collaborative industry effort seeking to drive waste out of the foodservice supply chain, improve product information and establish a foundation for enhanced food safety through improved, automated traceability. (read more…)

Having a presence on social media is no longer an option for food retailers and brands, especially as consumers become increasingly connected and social platforms continue to grow. But managing that presence varies from one company to another, with some brands and retailers finding the right balance of engaging with social media users and others still figuring it out.

Regardless of what stage companies are at in the social media game, it is vital that brands and retailers tailor their approach to social media to their businesses, instead of going with a one-size-fits-all strategy, according to a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“Pick the right channels for your business, then double down on them,” PwC US Principal Andrea Fishman said.

Social media management is often associated with teams like marketing or communications, but some companies approach social media from a data perspective. At Sam’s Club, social media is just another type of data and another way to create meaningful connections with consumers, Chief Member Officer Tracey Brown said. (read more…)