Focus Brands Zeros in on a Seven-Brand Digital Transformation
With new consumer expectations for convenience-based restaurant experiences, leading developer of global food service chains Focus Brands saw the need for contactless restaurant services to reach customers for each of its seven chains.
Merkle built the brand a unified digital platform to support multi-channel ordering and personalized loyalty experiences, giving it a scalable, high-performance product designed to support the company’s current brand portfolio and easily add more in the future.
Focus Brands is a franchisor and operator of seven multi-channel food service brands with more than 6,000 restaurants in over 50 countries and provides support for each brand that includes a website and native app channels. Understanding new consumer expectations for convenience-based restaurant experiences, the franchisor wanted to invest in a digital transformation that would lend itself to contactless restaurant services.
When Focus Brands approached Merkle with this vision, it set an aggressive goal to have web and native app channels account for 50% of the total sales mix in the next five years. But its previous technology stack could not sustain the ecosystem required for this goal with disparate technologies across the seven brands, slow load times, and website unavailability during times of peak demand.
With seven brands, seven websites, seven native mobile apps, and more than $1B in revenue, Focus Brands needed a solution to deliver and scale across multiple channels. Add in key challenges like supporting peak traffic across several time zones, delivering content at remarkably fast speeds, and limiting architectural complexity and the need for a very powerful solution becomes clear.
To meet its ambitious revenue goal and support the brand’s evolving needs, Merkle and Focus Brands collaborated on a strategic digital transformation. A unified digital platform was envisioned that could deliver across three important tenets:
- Increased stability: high availability is crucial during periods of peak traffic.
- Higher performance: great UX depends on blazing-fast performance.
- Reduced complexity: simplicity reduces operational risk and ensures the platform can cater to the strengths of the team.
Sitecore XM with Experience Edge and Vercel were foundational solutions to help Focus Brands achieve its goals. Focus Brands is no longer concerned with infrastructure complexities like replicating content delivery servers across different regions or scaling up or down. With Sitecore Experience Edge and Vercel, Focus Brands has globally replicated, dynamically scalable access to content when and where the brand needs it across multiple channels, all powered by GraphQL and Next.js. This not only enables the brand to deliver incredibly fast experiences to its customers to increase revenue but also introduces operational efficiencies since its team no longer has to worry if the servers are up during lunchtime.
Knowing Focus Brands wanted to limit overall solution complexity, the performance capabilities that exist with Sitecore Experience Edge, and the rise of the Jamstack architecture, the use of Sitecore Headless Services with SXA was a perfect fit into the solution ecosystem. The use of Sitecore Headless Services introduces efficiencies in developing, maintaining, and scaling digital transformation efforts and enables Focus Brands to use whichever frontend technologies work best for the company. Combine this with the use of Sitecore Experience Accelerator and you have an incredibly performant solution loved by IT for the limited infrastructure complexity and also by marketing for the decreased time to market.
Merkle’s solution pulls together several different Sitecore technologies to compose an architecture that works for Focus Brands now while giving it the flexibility to take on more offerings in the future. Combining Sitecore Experience Edge for XM, Sitecore Headless Services, and Sitecore Experience Accelerator shows the true power of implementing the Sitecore composable DXP stack – at scale.
The technologies used include:
- GraphQL across native mobile and web
- Sitecore 10.1
- Sitecore Experience Edge
- Sitecore Headless Services (JSS)
- Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA)
- Static site generation (SSG) with Next.js
- Cloud-hosted Middleware
Results clearly demonstrate the solution’s ability to efficiently and reliably publish and deliver content on the new infrastructure and architecture, and deploy code updates without disruption or downtime. With the new infrastructure stack in place and operational, the foundation to support this new multi-channel platform has been established. Lastly, use of Experience Edge and statically generating the site with Next.js have both drastically increased site speed for an improved user experience to tie it all together.