Today, more than ever, big data is big business. In this article, we take a closer look at how McDonald’s invests in business intelligence and customer data to secure future growth.
A Big Bite of Big Data
We all know McDonald’s. While you might not be willing to admit it, I bet that most of us will have ordered a cheeky meal there in the past few weeks. A chicken nugget here, a McFlurry there… It’s a guilty pleasure for the majority of us.
Since its humble beginning in 1940, the fast-food chain has opened restaurants all around the world, slowly launching itself as the leading food service retailer worldwide. Today, the chain runs more than 34.000 local restaurants, and they serve nearly 70 million people in 118 different countries every day. And each year, US customers eat more than 1 billion pounds of beef at McDonald’s. This equals 5.5 million head of cattle.
This incredible customer traffic means that McDonald’s hosts a wealth of customer data in their system. However, for this data to be turned into measurable metrics and valuable business insights, the international chain is dependent on utilising a solid business intelligence tool.
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The Advantages of Big Data
Essentially, big data is a large amount of raw, unstructured information. This data contains customer information, purchase history, sales patterns and market trends that can be used to optimise your business efforts. When customer intelligence is used correctly, you can base all of your future business decisions on data-driven intelligence. In addition to this, big data will bring you the following advantages:
- Possibility of cost savings
- Time reductions and time optimisation
- New product development
- A deeper understanding of the market conditions
McDonald’s focus on new technology has been public for quite some time. According to statements from the company’s 2017 growth plan, the fast-food giant set out to focus on “enhancing digital capabilities and the use of technology to dramatically elevate the customer experience.” In the effort to properly leverage their big data and optimise for personalisation, McDonald’s recently acquired Dynamic Yield, an Israeli start-up that uses big data to create personalised offers and experiences for customers. Rumour has it that the Golden Arches paid nearly $300 million for the data analysis company, leaving it safe to assume they’re fully prepared to pull up their socks and set out for a big data revolution.
Using Big Data to Optimise Customer Experiences
At the moment, McDonald’s is mainly analysing the data collected within three different areas, the drive-thru experience, their mobile app and the digital menus. Together, these sources of data contribute to predictive analysis which can optimise the entire customer experience.
- Enhancing the drive-thru experience
Waiting time in the drive-thru has long been a challenge for McDonald’s. For example, if a single customer has to wait for a long time behind a family placing a large order of food, this will likely lead to a negative experience for the customer who is forced to wait. Will he return? With predictive analysis, it’s possible for the company to predict when large groups are likely to show up. From here, they can ensure that more employees are working the shift at that specific time
- Personalising the customer experience with mobile apps
The launch of McDonald’s own app has been a great success so far. Their customers can easily order and pay for their food through the app – and in return, the Golden Arches get real-time access to vital customer intelligence. This data can be used to tailor specific offers to each customer, and thereby encourage repeat visits and an increase in sales.
- The advantages of digital menus
These digital menus have been a huge asset to the fast-food chain. Continuously optimised and tweaked, these menus can change based on real-time data and customer information. The menus can change their options based on the weather, the time of the day and any big events happening in the local area. As an example, the digital menu can be used to promote cold drinks, McFlurry and fresh salads on a scorching hot day.
By constantly tracking and analysing the incredible amount of customer intelligence. This information can be used to make further changes to the menu, optimise their supply chain or make adjustments to the number of employees working on each shift. As the food chain continues to accelerate its data-driven efforts, it will be interesting to see where its big data investments will take them in the future.
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