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Leverage a Headless Strategy to Drive Real Business Impact

Jesse M. Dundon, Chief Executive Officer, Hathway

Customers are looking for personalized experiences, and restaurants are using data and actionable insights to deliver. To that end, what tools and systems integrations are required to achieve this? How must technology suppliers support operators to enable integration?

JESSE DUNDON: Every component of your stack needs to be connected in a way that supports the independent innovation at the component level as your stack evolves. So your backend systems like online ordering, loyalty, CMS, CRM, and CDP need to own their core responsibilities, be interoperable with each other, and support a headless architecture with rich APIs that let you rapidly innovate on the customer experience layer (apps, web, kiosk, email, SMS, push, etc) without risking security, stability and data integrity. Similarly, you’ll want to set up your CX layer to be able to enjoy advancements in the backend systems with limited effort. For example, build “personalizability” into your CX layer, knowing that something like a recommended product list may initially be the same for all users, but as system capabilities grow the list could be personalized by increasingly specific datapoints, eventually arriving at true AI-powered one-to-one recommendations.

What will be the top technology to help transform restaurants of the future by driving efficiency, profitability and satisfaction?

DUNDON: New AI-specific tech platforms are getting released every day, and the existing restaurant tech players are all keen to add AI to their featuresets. But AI isn’t just going to implement itself; it actually takes a lot of legwork to select the right platforms, plug in data sources, create pipelines, refine training systems, and implement all of the client-side functionality. That type of work is perfect for Hathway to help with as a digital growth partner to our brands.’

According to the National Restaurant Association, nearly 60% of restaurant occasions take place off-premises and 29% of respondents say driving off-premises business is a top objective for IT investments.  What technology infrastructure is necessary?

DUNDON: You’ll certainly want to make sure that you can support inbound orders from marketplace apps, but the key strategy to sustainably grow off-prem without diluting your brand and killing margins is to make sure your owned commerce channels are the easiest, fastest and cheapest ways to transact. Arm yourself with best-in-class backend systems and a headless architecture, and you’ll be able to create a customer experience layer that you can own and iteratively improve for years to come.

Identifying ROI continues to be a top challenge for restaurant operators. What suggestions can you offer to operators to justify investment? How can technology be optimized to boost profits?

DUNDON: We look at ROI at a number of levels. There are some leading metrics you can quantify, like ecommerce percentage of sales and average order values. But the key metric of incrementality is lifetime value, which takes into account some interesting results we’ve seen (like AOV going down due to incremental small-ticket purchases that originated from a successful growth strategy, which is fine if LTV increases). In the ideal world you can estimate the cost of potential features, platforms, improvements, campaigns, etc., compare against the expected return (in dollars), and implement the winning strategies. Leverage a unified digital growth strategy approach that feeds recommendations into digital experience optimization and growth marketing workstreams and constantly evaluates performance for ongoing tuning.

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