As restaurant brands deploy digital ordering, the stakes are high. Done well, digital ordering enables a brand to foster greater customer loyalty, grow sales and create a win-win-win for customers, operators/franchisees and the brand itself. Done poorly, digital ordering can damage valuable customer relationships and result in operators/franchisees losing trust in the brand.

In my experience as the Founder & CEO of Olo.com over the past nine-and-a-half years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with more than 150 brands to operate digital ordering programs that today serve more than 7 million customers. In that time, I’ve learned that there are many critical components to a successful digital ordering program. Here are my top 10 tips for a successful digital ordering implementation:

1. Make sure that all key departments are in the boat before you set sail. Digital ordering requires participation from IT, operations, marketing, and training, as well as executive buy-in from the c-suite. (read more…)

In the tech industry, the term “disruption,” referring to the drastic alteration of an industry or market, is practically a cliché. Everyone wants to “disrupt” a traditional business, often referencing an attempt to become the next “Uber” of a particular industry, referring to the private car service that has upended the taxi industry. These startups are looking to outsource the daily chores and nuisances that take up consumers’ time and energy, from laundry (Washio) to mailing packages (Shyp) to storage (MakeSpace). And now a new group of tech-savvy entrepreneurs have set their sights on disrupting the food industry.

For our recent Creative Concepts TrendSpotting Report on meal delivery services, Datassential looked at a number of these companies, from the ingredients, dishes and flavors you’ll find on the delivery menu to the ways they are using technology to set themselves apart. We also surveyed consumers for their opinions, from their interest in and experience using these services to the factors that are most important to them. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by Coca-Cola.

Specialty beverages offer foodservice operators a low-cost way to drive margins, differentiate themselves from competitors and satisfy consumer needs.

Using ingredients they are likely to already have on hand, operators can generate excitement around the menu and raise their check averages with a variety of offerings that strengthen their own brands.

Specialty beverages are among the fastest-growing categories in foodservice, and their multifaceted nature can speak to consumer preferences for both health and indulgence, and also allow for personalization and customization.

We talked to Thays Morgan, senior manager for strategy, planning and development for the full-service restaurant channel at Coca-Cola’s foodservice division, about how operators can leverage specialty beverages to grow their business.

Why are specialty beverages so important to foodservice operators?

When we look at the specialty beverage categories — teas, lemonades, limeades, shakes, smoothies and even sparkling sodas and specialty sodas — they are forecast to have double-digit growth over the next five years. (read more…)

Organic loses its authenticity halo as it goes more mainstream

For decades, consumers trusted organic foods to provide authentic, healthy alternatives to problems they perceived in the world of conventional food.

As organics have gone mainstream, with 73% of people now buying them, their authenticity halo is fading. Consumers do not trust organics the way they used to. They want to support companies that share their values and are committed to organic, natural and real food – but they doubt whether some companies that trumpet those values sincerely embrace them, and they increasingly mistrust the government’s organic certification.

Consumers in all segments are turning toward local to help them resolve their confusion and uncertainty surrounding organic certifications and the claims of the organic marketplace.

“Local is more important to me than organic,” one Nashville resident told The Hartman Group for its Organic & Natural 2014 report. “It’s about building a relationship. (read more…)

It is no surprise that women are behind a good deal of spending dollars. Women account for more than 70% of global purchasing decisions, according to Gallup, and as of last year, women control up to $15 trillion of spending power, Nielsen reported. But while marketers are making great strides when it comes to targeting female consumers, there is still a segment of the female population that marketers are missing, especially in the consumer packaged goods space — women at work.

According to a recent report by WorkPlace Impact, nearly half of women stop at the grocery store on their way home from work or during their lunch breaks, and a whopping 84% of women edit their shopping lists while they’re at work. Because of this, many CPG marketers are not reaching out to female consumers when they are making many of their purchasing decisions, according to Tara Peters, director of marketing at WorkPlace Impact. (read more…)