Restaurant tech company Brightloom has launched what it’s calling a “Customer Growth Platform” (CGP). The software will enable smaller restaurants to get more valuable insights out of their customer data and translate those insights into marketing campaigns more relevant to customers.
On top of that launch, Brightloom has also raised $15 million from new and existing investors including Valor Siren Ventures and Tao Capital Partners. The company will use its new funds to increase R&D and scale its new product, which Brightloom CEO Adam Brotman calls “a really easy solution for the everyday restaurant brand.”
The move towards customer engagement software is a change for Brightloom, which up to now has been better known for its high-tech cubby system and software that manages front- and back-of-house restaurant operations. Brotman confirmed over the phone last week that the new CGP product is now the company’s main focus.
He explained that this level of technical sophistication when it comes to customer engagement has historically been the territory of the billion-plus-dollar chains (think McDonald’s or Starbucks). But these systems take millions of dollars to build and sometimes up to a year to implement. It’s an understatement to say those numbers are unattainable for most restaurants, from both a cost and time perspective.
“That’s the problem we’re attacking,” he said. “It should not take months or a year or millions of dollars.”
Brotman knows a thing or two about these systems, having been the Chief Digital Officer at Starbucks for a number of years. (Brightloom also licensed its previous product to Starbucks last year.) While Brightloom is obviously not mimicking exactly what the coffee giant puts its data to work, he brings an insider’s perspective to the operation, and to the overall conversation around restaurant customer data.
“The biggest opportunity is customer data,” he said of the restaurant industry right now. “That opportunity was on everyone’s minds before the pandemic. Now it’s exploded because everything is so digital.”
Brightloom’s CGP system integrates with a restaurant’s main data source (the point of sale, a data warehouse, etc.) Among the features on the new platform is a product recommendation and forecast tool called SmartSegments, which can predict what customers are likely to purchase next. The results of those SmartSegments can be imported into a restaurant’s existing software for managing marketing campaigns in order to offer customers more relevant offers, upsells, and deals.
The platform also includes a dashboard with detailed results on different marketing campaigns and regular reports on how campaigns are performing and how they can be improved in the future.
Brightloom says the CGP platform launched in 2020 as an invite-only beta and is now in use with about 25 different restaurant brands. For now, the smallest restaurant brand Brightloom works with has five units, while the largest has close to 1,000. Brotman says the product does not make sense at the moment for a single-unit restaurant, although that’s another challenge the company is working to solve.
Of course, software that helps restaurants leverage data only works if the restaurant actually owns the data. Right now, ownership of a lot of data lies in the hands of the third-party delivery platforms like DoorDash and Uber Eats. This has been an increasingly problematic issue since the pandemic started, with many across the industry referring to the pandemic as a kind of “a wake-up call” to restaurants about what they are doing (or not doing) with their data.
Right now, most restaurants that aren’t billion-dollar chains are just trying to keep the lights on. However, the industry is not going to go backwards in terms of digital ordering. To the extent that they are able to, restaurants should be thinking about how they will put their data to use once the worst of the pandemic and its accompanying shutdowns/restrictions/lockdowns has passed.
“The more [restaurants] allow that data to be in the hands of the third-party marketplaces, the more they are giving up,” Brotman said. “I do believe there’s a value and a time and a place for these marketplaces. But restaurant owners should be aware and be careful that there’s a tradeoff.”