Case Study: How Food Hall Mother Road Market’s Vendors Saw Double Digit Increases in Sales Within Two Months During a Pandemic
Lee Arbel, Head of Marketing, Bbot Inc.
Jeff Thompson is no stranger to hospitality technology. As Director of Food and Retail Strategy at Mother Road Market, Oklahoma's first food hall, he’s constantly in search of innovative ways to improve the guest experience and grow business.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the restaurant industry hard. People shuttered themselves indoors. Shutdowns coupled with lower customer traffic and online ordering hurt business.
To adapt to accelerating changes in the industry and cater to customer needs, Mother Road Market started using Bbot’s multi vendor order and payment solution. By doing so, it was able to offer several highly requested features, chiefly the ability for customers to place a single order from multiple vendors on-site directly from their phone without having to sign up for anything or download an app.
Upon implementing the ordering and payments solution late September 2020, Mother Road Market saw an immediate hit in sales. By the end of September, weekly sales for all vendors were up 48% compared to August’s weekly average! October has yielded even greater returns on the investment. The first full week in October brought Mother Road Market 53.7% more sales than an average week in September did.
These figures make sense. In food courts around the world, shoppers get into arguments over which food vendor or restaurant to purchase food from. They’ll split up, get in lines to order food from one vendor each and return to look for a place to sit to eat together. This creates four sources of friction for guests:
The amount of time they have to wait on line(s) to order
The need to make a choice between multiple food options (or wait on multiple lines)
Difficulty in splitting payments
Inability to make multiple orders throughout the visit on an open “tab”
These four sources of friction temper guests’ purchases. With all four removed, vendors can safely sell more and even establish creative cross-vendor promotions. For example, if the transactional data shows that many guests who ordered a food item from one vendor also ordered a specific beverage from another vendor, both items can be cross-promoted on the respective branded digital menus.
When the pandemic hit, they had to pivot to create a virtual food hall. Bbot was the only platform that checked all their boxes. Their biggest pain point was solved by giving the guests the ability to order from multiple vendors in one seamless transaction. “The guest experience is best with Bbot. We tried other softwares and demo’d all the others, but from closing shop without Bbot pre Covid-19 to now, we have 9 vendors live and adding 4 more.”
Thompson accepts failure as part of the journey to success. Prior to adopting Bbot, Mother Road Market had launched their first version of contactless or “table-side” ordering. They quickly discovered guests weren’t finding it intuitive to use. While the product worked 95% of the time, the 5% of time it didn’t work, left customers with a negative impression of the vendors on site. Additionally, he asserts the solution wasn’t simple to use or elegant in its design, which turned guests away from reordering.
The non-profit food hall runs a program where the vendors benefit from reduced rent and the landlord takes on a lot more like all the utilities and tech. For example, when implementing Bbot’s contactless order and pay solution, they covered the cost of onboarding and hardware. Located right on Route 66 in Tulsa, Mother Road Market is trying to recapture the heyday of Route 66 with authenticity and neon signs.
The Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation seeks to “reduce barriers associated with big ideas” by empowering entrepreneurs in the Tulsa area. Mother Road Market is one program the Foundation runs which allows entrepreneurs to use a small shop model for their concepts as opposed to investing large sums of money in a brick and mortar operation. “Mother Road Market is focused on good food, unique retail, and offering Tulsa a vibrant space for the community to gather.
Foodies, artists, musicians, and travelers have a space to try local food and shop for unique finds, or even find a cooking class going on in the demonstration kitchen or a beer tasting happening at The WEL Bar! There is a large back patio with ample seating, live music and a Route 66-themed mini golf.” You can learn more about them here. Additionally, you can learn more about Bbot and request a demo here.