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How AI is Going to Disrupt the Restaurant, Hospitality and Alcoholic Beverage Industries

Podcast summary from the The Drunken Grape Show by wine and beer sommelier, Rob Statham.

Rob: Good morning morning, evening, or afternoon wherever you are. I have a terrific guest today. I’m going to talk about the wine world and beer world. and everything with it. Well, this definitely touches upon the use of artificial intelligence software to help maximize restaurant sales. Helps customize ordering for the guests that come through. Now we all know that Covid is very disruptive with advent of the pandemic in March and the restaurant business. Having seen the disruption that has caused in the industry, it’s definitely a blessing. People are out there building technologies to help maximize restaurants that do stay in business, to not only survive, but thrive. Now give a warm welcome to my guest from Standard Insights, Jerry Abiog.

Jerry: Thanks Rob. Thanks for having me on your show.

Rob: It’s always a pleasure. Tell me about your backstory because you know the backstory is always what people want to hear, where the interest is really captivated and obviously you’re working on some very exciting things.

Jerry: Yeah, sure Rob. I’m a co-founder for Standard Insights – a two and a half year start up. What our company does is we are an AI as a service growth marketing platform that helps businesses across many different verticals prioritize and execute data driven omni channel campaigns. And why is this important? It helps businesses target the right person with the right product or service at the right time. This helps your business drive both top and bottom line growth. And this is vitality, vitality important in that it helps ones business, regardless of vertical become competitive in an increasingly data driven world with marketing precision using AI.

Rob: Yeah that makes a lot of sense today with the amount of data that people use today as compared to say 2000 to 2003 is incredible. I read somewhere where you can take the entire year’s data back then and it would encompass two days in today’s world.

Jerry: Even if you go back 10 years ago during the Great Recession, its a night and day difference between the amount of data we had then than now. So Rob, when we started the company, we started off in the eCommerce vertical since they were the early adopters of artificial intelligence with Amazon and product recommendations. Over time, we branched to other verticals – finance, brick n mortar, and restaurants. We did this last year for two reasons – one of our co-founders actually owns a restaurant. Number two, McDonald’s purchased one of our competitors that are doing the same thing we are right now. We actually developed this and launched it last year. But to be honest Rob, it fell flat, restaurants weren’t ready for online ordering on your phone. It sounded cool, but they weren’t ready. We we took it to a handful of restaurants – didn’t get a great response. And then along comes Covid. In March, we pulled it out of the garage, tweaked it, and spun it off as its own brand called iorder.

Rob: Well yeah and the thing is restaurants are traditional. They’re much more like traditional brick n mortar businesses. They’re still very tired and very resistant to change and the change that Covid has brought. Because if they don’t move into the future and they don’t adopt technologies like this, we’re going to see a lot more bankruptcies.

Jerry: Yeah. Absolutely, I agree with you. Restaurants have a very dinosaur like mentality with technology adoption. And because of Covid, have been forced to accelerate the adoption of various types of technologies. I was at a virtual conference a few weeks back for restaurants – so all these technologies were 3 to 4 years in the adoption game plan. Now it has been shrunk to 3-4 months. You have restaurants that want to see the light of day and have to look at other types of technologies that can help them now.

Rob: Yes. Disruption always. Constant throughout history – technological change and improvements. You mentioned in the green room about predictive analytics. I look at this and think, wow – if this could really see what customers are doing and track their preferences, much like what Amazon and Netflix have suggested a whole slew of things based upon preferences. And basically being able to do this in the restaurant world is not only going to save a lot of time buts its going to basically cut down on customer churn and really lock down with your customers.

Jerry: You’re absolutely right. Our website talks about three things – customer experience, preventing customer indecision, and telling them what to do next. So all this takes into account of what our platform can do – going above and beyond just uploading your menu and attaching a self pay gateway. You want to make your menu smart so restaurants can take advantage of that. I’ll be honest with you Rob, just like vaccines for Covid – there are a lot of companies coming to the market. But with AI, it gives us a significant advantage among our competitors.

Rob: Five-six years ago there was a big move in the wine world with wine apps like Delectable and Vivino – like a very simplified pocket sommelier service. And what I’ve seen that you’re taking this to a whole different level of game changer – in the sense that AI has the ability to remember and retrieve things very effectively. The people who are viewing or listening to this – share this message, particularly if you’re in the restaurant world or if you’re in the hotel world or you have a wine bar, wine shop mine want to get this application. This is something that you want to get on. I think about it – not only are you going to have a retraction of brick n mortar buying habits. There’s a certain percentage that don’t want to leave their house and they order everything from home. And the fact is, if you have a warehouse of information based on what you have is like you call it, a service – makes me thing of SaaS or software that is able to categorize and catalog it in a way that’s completely customize-able. I think you can touch on a more personable way of ordering. I really think that you’re on the precipice of something great with nice results.

Jerry: Thanks man. I really appreciate it. Curious, how many bottles does the average wine shop carry in your neighborhood? Has to be in the hundreds?

Rob: Could be in the thousands. They’ll have cases in the back. I wouldn’t imagine they would store too much due to security and safety. But I would imagine that volume is great. I could see where this could track that.

Jerry: So even we say, for the sake of this conversation, when you walk in a store, has 500 bottles ready to be sold and the average store has 2500 customers on record. They’ve been around for a while. Artificial Intelligence can help predict what each one of the 2500 customers will buy out of the inventory of 500 bottles. So now, you’re not guessing what bottles you’ll sell to Jerry or Rob. You’ll already kind of know hey this is what they’re predicted to buy by looking at their patterns and other people like them.

Rob: You can see where this technology is going to move in the future when the shop owner does look at you and say, oh, you like that dry Riesling from Germany or this white burgundy. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think this would have a massive impact on just the sales process itself to expedite it so sales volume can move quicker, the impact on the client is far greater because the of the memory recognition. Everyone loves to be remembered and recognized. I mean that’s part of the magic of remembering someones name for instance so you can do this for ordering – wow. I mean, just the potential is unreal and especially for the early adopters, this is something you really want to get in the ground floor.

Jerry: So to give you an example, one of our clients, a Thai restaurant up the street, they did a lot of specialty drinks. And with Covid, the dine in stopped. So here, I don’t know the laws there, here in Georgia, they allow you to do curbside pickup for alcohol. In the near future, they’ll allow it for delivery. So the average order value for this restaurant was $30. Now what we’re doing is making drink recommendations. $5 for a drink. Date night, its $30 for two meals. Now we’re offering them 2 drinks at $5 each. We’re taking that $30 average order value and raising it to $40, right around 33%. That 33% increase, they would of done that if they were dine in – hey have a drink. Now, not everyone is going to buy two drinks. If you get 10% of the people to buy based on recommendations to improve the average order value by 33% to $40, over time that’s going to add up.

Rob: This is what you were mentioning in the waiting room setting up with the Manhattan which will tie into whiskey. That could be $100 or $200 craft whiskey. Right all of a sudden that whole element has exposure. The impact and ramifications of this is a big paradigm shift.

Jerry: Think about this, you come into a restaurant and start ordering and they are offering you $100 bottle of whiskey. You’re looking like, I don’t even drink whiskey. They don’t know me. So that’s the thing right, its going to boil down to customer experience. Hey this shop owner doesn’t know me, they are presenting me with whiskey. I’m just a beer guy. That’s where it comes into play, the customer experience. But that customer who orders a lot of Manhattans and over time, like okay, every time you order, you’ve ordered Manhattans to go, why not start pushing the bottles of whiskey. Now if I’m that customer, hey they get me. So its always going to boil down to customer experience and building from there. And you know, with AI learning and parsing that data. Not only that, but being able to execute campaigns around that will go a long way

Rob: I’m a big fan of the use of technology to enhance because the other thing is, if the software and the AI remembers and remembers your details, there’s less conversation when someone comes into your wine bar, restaurant, or liquor store. The employee or owner can engage in meaningful conversation and adds to that relationship building. So you’re not focused on the transnational element because you already know what they want. You can now actually build a rapport with them and that’s just going to take it that much further.

Jerry: So you have a clear cut focus on whats going on. You’re not flying blind anymore. So you speak about technology, just go back 10 years ago during the Great Recession where there were two companies. How did we rent our movies? We went to Blockbuster. There was a young company called Netflix. You know back then think about where Blockbuster is right now? They cease to exist. They didn’t adapt. They didn’t implement technology with the DVDs outside stores, then online subscription service. But Netflix did, they got on it and saw a need for that. Now there’s a whole host of them Hulu.

Rob: Yeah. Crave. Amazon Prime. Disney now. Oh yea, its not going to slow down. Yeah, its not going to slow down.

Jerry: Yeah, its not going to slow down. Look at Blockbuster, they didn’t see, they didn’t think ahead, they weren’t forward thinkers. Or even now, we’re talking on Zoom. They have our data. 10 years ago, I was in the corporate world we didn’t have conference calls like this, it was a whole elaborate setup. In a conference room, with big long table to talk to other people. Yeah, but now you know we’re doing this over our smartphones and Zoom. So yeah, we’ve come a long way, even going back 10 years and yeah people or businesses that do not adapt, they probably will cease to exist in the very near future just like what to Blockbuster.

Rob: And you know you make some excellent points there even with video on the conference side, you know this is something that viewers can relate to because everyone is tapping into Zoom or Google Hangouts or MeetUp I believe. I can’t remember the exact name. But 10 years ago or 12 years ago I was actually in the IT world doing reselling, actually a little further than that in 2007. But it ‘s not so far in the distant past. I remember 3M had these video conference cameras with long projection arms. Got the elaborate setup in the boardroom. And the footprint of that can be shrunk down to your handheld today where the conference call is much more effective. For those that are listening to this, think of the impact this is going to have on your restaurants, particularly right now when you are struggling to survive. And I imagine for the value they give, these software tools Jerry are cost effective as well, particularly in a business where they’re used to having high overhead, particularly in a business where they are used to having high overhead. And that’s the problem with the restaurant business along with very low margins. So anyway to raise the margins, shrink overhead to maximize reach. Because the old days, you’d come in and your reach was who came into the restaurant. Restaurants are typically lousy marketers, lousy branders, unless they are part of a massive chain. With this technology, the reach is far greater. It’s like the effect that social media had instead of just having an email list.

Jerry: Absolutely. So I live in metro Atlanta, right near downtown. Restaurants have a five mile reach in a crowded city. That’s thousands and thousands of people that you can reach via social media instead of an email list. And if you take that a step further. You’re right, restaurants are poor marketers, now with AI, you’re just not sending, you’re going beyond just sending mass emails on menu items that Rob or Jerry may or may not like. But if you can pin point their favorite food items from what they bought in the past, the chances of that converting goes up tenfold.

Rob: Wow. Is there anything else as we are coming to a close here. Is there anything else that you would say quickly that would resonate with the viewers as well as the best way to get a hold of you because its really important to reach out to Jerry. I think that you’ve got something fantastic here and technology is always fun. Always moving forward. The old saying is if you don’t change you’ll die and the change will leave you behind. So yeah, what’s the best way to get a hold of you?

Jerry: Yeah, they can go to iorder.menu
We chose that domain as we wanted to make it easily rememberable. Because we’re dealing with a menu of restaurants or a menu of services. And if you go to our pricing tab, its all clearly spelled out there. We’ve positioned it so much that its price friendly to restaurants especially the mom n pops that are suffering more so than the big chains. So take a look at that and if someone wants to get a hold of me, they can email me at [email protected] I’d be honored if your listeners would shot me an email or book a demo. Hopefully we can help your restaurant during these difficult times.

Rob: Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you really enjoyed this discussion with Jerry Abiog from Standard Insights. AI and how its really going to disrupt and really move the restaurant industry. And I really see it helping the hospitality industry, the wineries, the breweries forward into the future. Listen, what ever you decide to do make sure you subscribe to the Frunken Grape.

Curious to see the next wave for keeping restaurants safe and profitable?

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