The food and beverage industry may not seem to have much in common with the tech industry, but there is a great deal of information that can be gleaned.
In fact, while the industries may be different, the consumers are not, says Monica Eaton-Cardone, COO of Chargebacks 911, a fintech company based in Tampa Bay, Fla.
“Consumers are learning bad habits from booking airlines, restaurants and even ordering through Amazon quickly and easily,” she says. “Today’s consumer is interested in a frictionlesss shopping experience, with instant gratification. They like one click convenience.”
While this doesn’t mean that every business will be able to make their products and services completely frictionless, it helps to know who you’re dealing with, she says.
“Bottom line: collaborate and understand what the Internet age has done to consumers, their behaviors, their thought processes and where mistakes have been made that you can learn from instead of just being siloed.”
David Batchelor, President of DialMyCalls.com, in Jupiter, Fla, says he likes to attend trade shows in other industries outside of tech because he often learns a lot, particularly in marketing. Recently, he says, “I kept hearing about CBD and I didn’t know much about it, so I went to a trade show in town. I learned a lot I could apply.”
Additionally, he is part of an entrepreneurial group of ten different people from different businesses. “You meet once a month and everybody shares experiences. You can take little pieces of it for your own business.”
The less siloed any business is, the better, says Eaton-Cardone. “Because each industry has its own nomenclature and seems to live inside a bubble, it’s easy to think that everything is different inside your industry than other industries, but it’s not true. Particularly if you have an online business, you’re open to the globe, 24/7.”
Another tip Batchelor offers from tech is to stay ahead of trends. “Tech moves so fast that you’re always figuring out what the next thing will be or you can become obsolete. The same can be true of food and beverage industry.”
He points to the shift toward organic foods and farm-to-table fresh foods rather than pre-packaged foods. “You don’t see very many TV dinners anymore,” he says. Food and beverage companies need to be just as savvy in keeping on top of these shifts.
His company uses social media to stay atop of trends, as well as industry publications, and listening to consumers.
“You have to gamble a little bit,” Batchelor says. “We test little things and see how they do. If something does well, we run in that direction, but we don’t go all in unless we are confident in it.”
In this increasingly digital, online marketplace, Eaton-Cardone, whose company specializes in helping businesses to manage and understand chargebacks and disputes, encourages any business to add a layer of security to any digital experience, such as an app, a customer loyalty program, or even “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPUS) types of services.
“While the convenience of these services is great for building customer loyalty and creating repeat business, there are a lot of accidental orders that can happen, and lots of fraud that can go on because all friction of typical security has been removed.”
That could look like offering a specific security pin, not allowing purchases to be made online, but only pre-authorized and then requiring a customer to show ID when picking up an order. This can cut down on the use of stolen credit cards, and make it less likely for a customer to dispute an order.
USE AI TO CAPTURE AND ANALYZE DATA
We’re living in the age of immense amounts of data that smart companies can learn how to capture and analyze. Batchelor’s company uses artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to make sure that users don’t abuse their systems or upload inappropriate content.
“They say data is becoming more valuable than anything on earth. With it you can make smart decisions.”
“The food and beverage industry could use AI to determine where certain products will sell better so you know where to target those advertising dollars. AI has the ability to target a specific city, zip code, or [customer profile].”
Batchelor concludes that while many people say that business comes down to a lot of luck, he says, “You make your own luck by exposing yourself to a lot of different things.”
“The most important thing of all is to learn from your mistakes,” says Eaton-Cardone. “Those are the best learning experiences you have that can teach you the most about where you can improve results."