• David Greschler

It's 2020: The Physical to Digital Revolution Has Finally Begun

The year was 1995 and I remember the excitement in the air. The first Internet browser had recently been released, and people were coming up with outrageous and impossible ideas to use the new technology. There was that company named after a huge jungle selling books, a personal “CueCat” scanner that let you go to websites by scanning barcodes, and even talk about ordering pizza online (check out Sandra Bullock doing this in the 1995 movie The Net). 

Fast forward 25 years and not only are we ordering pizzas over the Internet, we’re using it to get a single cup of coffee delivered piping hot to our desks and homes. The Internet – with help from the smart phone – has touched every part of our lives. But for all the changes that technology has brought upon our lives, the in-store experience for food and beverage has barely changed in the past 25 years

Sure, you can order ahead, but the standard flow of an in-store experience (wait in line > order > wait for your order to be fulfilled > pick up) is exactly the same as it was in 1995. At peak hours, people are still waiting 10-15 minutes or more to get their food. Customer feedback is still happening hours after the experience via a paper or email survey. Even tools used to measure speed of service and customer service – manual time and motion studies and secret shoppers – are the same today as they were in the 1990’s.

But the 2020’s have arrived and all this is about to change. It turns out the internet has not only changed how we buy online, it’s also changing how we measure and act on customer experiences in the brick & mortar world.

Three forces – cultural, business and technology – are driving this:

  1. Customers want it now: The internet has ingrained instant gratification into everything we do. With one click we buy anything we want. And yet, with food and beverage people are expected to wait in long lines to get their lunch or dinner. Their patience is being tested.

  2. Decision makers are now digital natives:  The instant gratification culture is also ingrained into executives who are responsible for the bottom line. This generation has no patience with anecdotal information. Growing up measuring likes on Facebook and Instagram, they look to objective and real-time data to make decisions. A time-and-motion study of less than 1% sample size that is a week old will not cut it.

  3. The technology is finally here: For a long time, being able to measure, analyze and act on real world systems like speed of service was not possible because it required the collection of millions of pieces of data a day that would test the limits of computers, bandwidth and analysis. With the advent of low cost sensors, AI, cloud and edge computing, the pieces are finally in place to measure and act on the real world with the same fidelity and scale as the online world with economics that add up.

In other words, we need to start measuring and acting on our physical spaces in the same way we think about our digital environments.  Imagine managing your physical spaces like you mange your websites. Dashboards and scorecards that provide views of speed of service, customer experience and loyalty for every store – in real-time. Apps that alert managers when service gaps are taking place - and fixing the problems while they’re happening. AI-fueled analysis that provide actionable insights to optimize staffing, service and marketing to drive more traffic and profits. At Nomad Go we’re making this outrageous and impossible vision a reality. Check out our latest offerings that help improve speed of service, customer service and loyalty. Also, stay tuned for a lot more real-time physical-to-digital solutions coming this year to help optimize staffing, improve cleanliness and improve customer experience. Because 2020 isn’t 1995 anymore.

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