Aramark Officials Explain How Customer Tracking System Can Enhance Foodservice At Consumer Engagement Technology World In New York City

Editor’s Note: The following report was provided by Paul Schlossberg, president of D/FW Consulting in Goshen, N.Y.

Two executives from Aramark Corp. Offered insights into new system to track consumer activity at a foodservice site during the Consumer Engagement Technology World session at the Javits Convention Center in New York City recently.

The session was titled “Choreographing Consumer Touch Points: Mapping the Path to Purchase.” Presenters were Danna Vetter, vice president, consumer strategies and George Yunis, senior director, creative services of Aramark. 

Aramark is transforming from a service business to a digitally connected company – by connecting directly with the consumers at the sites they serve. It requires an entirely new way of thinking about what they do and how they will do it. The key questions are addressed by looking at the business from a “consumer facing” perspective: What do consumers see when they do business with us? Then they can deal with “consumer engagement” and how to capture the attention and create purchases among today’s connected consumers. Their new direction is highly refined and clearly targeted at delivering a “connected consumer experience.”  

The Aramark consumer experience engagement model is based on four elements.  It includes 1) communication, (2) the products to be offered, (3) how to maximize the (selling) environment and 4) providing customer service.

All of this, according to Vetter, “…is driven by consumer insights.” One of the most critical things they know is that smart phones have achieved 51% penetration in the U.S. as of December 2011. This will impact the increasing conversion of payments from coins, bills and cards to mobile phones. And couponing can now be delivered directly to individuals without the need for paper (and avoiding the need to program bill acceptors to deal with these coupons).

The next level of being driven by consumer insights was described by Yunis as “the ability to track individual shopper traffic and movement by using the signals from smart phones.” Aramark will be making offers directly to individual phones as the consumer enters a venue or approaches a specific section of the service area.  Or maybe it will lead to an offer if he/she is not approaching a highly profitable service section – such as cold or hot beverages.

Vetter participated in a panel discussion ROI versus ROE (return on engagement): “The New Benchmark of Emerging Technologies.” Vetter said, “We must understand the wants and needs of our (shoppers) to engage them at all points of the experience.” To accomplish this, Aramark is working with Wifarer, a provider of highly sophisticated indoor positioning technologies. Yunis told me, that this is a critical aspect of their ability to better serve consumers at their venues.

Philip Stanger, Wifarer CEO, told us they provide systems for individuals to use as a self-guiding process, in shopping centers, airports, convention centers, museums, sports stadia or arenas and other high-traffic venues. Wifarer anonymously aggregates user data to observe how shoppers move among the various sections of a cafeteria or other foodservice venue either in real time or trended over a period.

From these observations, foodservice operations can make adjustments quickly to allow for easier traffic flow and to move potential shoppers on a path to make more purchases. Wifarer leverages a venue's existing WiFi to provide indoor positioning, location aware content delivery, and powerful analytics, so no additional hardware is required.