Marugame Udon is the world’s largest udon noodle chain, with more 800 fast casual restaurants in Japan and 250 across Asia. It opened its first European restaurant in London in 2021 with a noticeably QSR-style low price point, with freshly-made noodles from £3.45.
Four further London sites were lined up before the first opened, with the restaurant in the O2 also now open, and the company has big plans for a speedy further expansion.
Marugame Udon has a global audience on social platforms ranging from Tiktok to Facebook and Instagram, and is leveraging this presence – and the power of the Muragame Loyalty Scheme – to extend brand awareness and position the offering perfectly in its new market.
Marugame Udon Chief Executive Keith Bird says: “It’s crucial to get the values and culture right.” Helping customers to feel part of the Marugame Udon community is crucial – for example, in the run-up to opening, visitors were invited to take pictures of themselves in front of a special screen to share worldwide on social media.
The innovative use of digital technology is helping Marugame Udon to establish and grow its community of enthusiasts across the UK and beyond. A unique level of integration is enabling the company to gain an extraordinarily deep insight into its customers, enabling better customer service and engagement.
The loyalty system, implemented via Aloha EPOS from NFS, is so well integrated that important customer information is automatically shared across all platforms ranging from the till to wifi and email marketing.
It means Marugame Udon has a 360 degree view of the customer’s requirements and preferences – what the company calls a ‘single point of truth’ – and it eliminates the need to repeatedly input data into different systems.
The integration makes the customer journey effortless. It enables Marugame Udon to send highly-targeted marketing emails that are sure to hit the mark – and when the customer pays, the till automatically applies any discounts. On opening, members who had already signed up to the loyalty programme were given popular offers including free noodles.
Further integration means customers are never disappointed when ordering. When a menu change is made on the till it is instantly reflected across all menu screens and collection screens, and the company is now working with NFS to extend this to delivery channels.
Customer safety is also a priority, and as well as providing allergen alerts, the Aloha EPOS system deployed by Marugame Udon offers diners the ability to input an allergen and see an online menu of dishes they can eat safely. Calorie counts are also updated through the system.
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