Providence, R.I.-based Swipely Inc. was founded in 2009 as a social shopping network. But over time, the network evolved into an all-in-one payment, analytics and loyalty platform for merchants. Surging demand from restaurants caused another shift in focus, and in March 2016, the company rebranded as Upserve, which is now a trademark of Swipely. In May, Upserve acquired cloud-based restaurant POS Breadcrumb from Groupon Inc.
According to Upserve executives, the name change was inspired by the energy and passion of restaurateurs, a niche the company now focuses on almost exclusively. Upserve noted that in the first quarter of 2016, its platform was managing relationships with 37 million active diners and handling 11 million meals monthly for restaurateurs, second only to OpenTable Inc., which overseas 17 million meals per month, according to company statistics.
The timing of the rebranding also coincided with its recent product release, which included ready-to-integrate shift preparation tools to forecast service needs for table management; guest service tools that deliver a 360-degree view of patrons across locations; upgraded mobile real-time dashboards; and enhanced server performance tools, menu intelligence, sales and loyalty functions.
A guiding force behind the shift in focus was the need for intelligent data. "There is all this data based on customer performance, menu performance, server engagement and what they're actually doing to drive their business that the typical restaurant owner doesn't have access to," said Andrea Michel, Channel Marketing Manager at Upserve. "What Upserve does is unveil that data."
She said clients can track critical details, for example, it can recognize a regular Monday night guest, identify the primary server involved and menu items ordered. Clients can also view higher-level hidden gems on the general menu that drive commerce and attract repeat customers. Restaurateurs can then leverage actionable insights from the data to enhance performance.
Upserve's Guest Book allows restaurateurs to separate "brunch lovers" from "Monday night regulars" for targeting promotional offers or testing new menu items. Although outbound marketing tools are not yet embedded in the platform, the data can be aggregated based on such parameters as time of day, menu preferences and other data likely to trigger business, Michel noted.
Because restaurateurs typically orchestrate complex functions, cash flow management can be highly sensitive. To exercise tighter control, Upserve's portal allows restaurateurs to view gross versus net sales figures in real time and to set flexible date ranges on batches and deposit reports. Using the customizable settings, restaurant managers are then able to measure progress week-by-week, monthly or for any time frame selected.
Another problem identified by Upserve was that many restaurant owners did not have a clear understanding how discounted items actually impact the bottom line. "We provide clients great insights into tracking of discounts and percentage of gross sales," Michel said. "In speaking with restaurateurs, we realized that many don't think about discounts separate from their gross sales. It's often cumulative."
Other enhancements to Upserve's product suite have developed in similar fashion. "A lot of these product enhancements and features are really run by the voice of the customers," she said. "We have connecting points in-house, whether they speak to our outreach sales team or account management as a follow-up after onboarding."
The company credits much of its success to several basic tenets. "A consistent theme beyond transparency and customization is connectivity to the needs and the drivers that are unique to each customer," Michel said. "Then they can choose how they want to leverage our platform and portal as much or as little as they want to."
The same flexibility applies to Upserve's independent sales agent, value-added reseller and restaurant consultant partners. The company provides a price-match guarantee on payment processing and offers basic to enterprise level monthly service plans. She said partners can be as involved as they want with clients boarded. Upserve supports whatever aspects of the restaurant relationship a partner desires, whether technical or otherwise.
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