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mockup showing revenue change on pricing solutions dashboard
Mockup of the pricing solutions web app on desktop and laptop screen
Lifestyle photo of a barista in a coffee shop

Pricing Solutions

Pricing optimization software for the food services industry
Web / Platform
1000+
Projects delivered
25+
Different industries

The price is right

Pricing Solutions Ltd. (PSL) is a group of consultants who help their clients optimize their pricing strategy using data science and machine learning models. One of their main areas of expertise is the food services industry with a focus on restaurant chains and franchises.

Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, PSL has a network of consultants around the globe with international offices in London, Singapore, Boston, and Mexico City. Since the company’s inception in 1993, they’ve delivered over 1000 projects to clients from over 25 different industries.

desktop_windows
Online web admin
local_offer
Pricing simulation
monetization_on
Pricing optimization
description
Advanced reporting

The ask

Pricing Solutions Ltd. wanted to bring their solution online, making it more accessible to their clients while keeping performance high.
 
 

From Offline to Online

When we were approached by PSL, they had developed their own offline solution to help their clients with their pricing strategy. While the software could handle all of the complex calculations in an offline environment, it had limited access to multiple users, and there was room for improvement on the usability side.

 
 
 

“Refreshing the data was a big problem.” as VP of Pricing Analytics Fred Puech recalls. “Every-time you changed something in excel, there were complex formulas that broke. The software that we had built could only support one user at a time, which was the main limitation of being offline. What we wanted was for multiple users to be able to use the tool simultaneously.” Puech further emphasized the importance of this accessibility in reference to how franchises operate particularly in the United States. Under US federal law, franchisees in the US set their own prices. As such, in order for it to be used efficiently, the tool would need to be made accessible to all of the franchisees as well as executives from restaurant headquarters.

How we helped

After holding an in-depth discovery session, TTT Studios revamped the design and created an easy-to-use online web application for Pricing Solutions: MenuPriceOptimizer™.
 
 
 

The power of discovery

Discovery sessions are always important, but its value becomes even more apparent in a complex project such as this. Before we created any plans, we sat down with PSL to fully understand their business and fully analyze the existing software. We conducted a series of workshops which gave us clarity into the product vision, product goals, user personas, user journeys, and product features

The results from these workshops then informed the priority of the features we needed to build and the trajectory of the project.

We identified 3 categories of users for the MVP:

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PSL Administrator

business

Restaurant HQ

storefront

Franchisee

Mockup of Franchisee view of the SmartOptimizer app

How it works

PSL’s proprietary mathematical model, MenuPriceOptimizer™, was developed over years of gathering industry data and looking at trends on how pricing has influenced buyer behaviour and decision making. We took this existing solution, and created an online web app with a sleek user interface

The tool has two main functions to help franchisees or restaurant owners optimize their pricing strategy.

Simulation

MenuPriceOptimizer™ allows users to test out “what if” scenarios by making changes to the prices on their menu list. There are many factors to consider when making a price change to a single menu item, and the effects aren’t always obvious or direct. A single change could elicit any of the following effects:

Direct Effect

This refers to a direct increase or decrease in the volume of sales to the item that was changed. For example, if the price of a Chicken Sandwich was increased from $5.50 to $6.50, the sales volume on that item could potentially decrease as a result.

Substitution Effect

Using the same example as above, a buyer who has chosen to abandon the item “Chicken Sandwich”, might substitute that item with a different one on the menu. In the worst case scenario, the price increase could also cause a buyer to leave the store completely and potentially substitute the item with the same item from a competitor.

Basket Effect

The basket effect looks at the impact of how a price change affects the sales volume of a side item and other related items on the menu. If the item “Chicken Sandwich” was frequently purchased with a side of fries or a drink, the increase in price of the item might cause the buyer to forgo the sides. In this case, even though they’re spending more on the single item, the total amount spent in the purchase would be lower.

Mockup of Menu items on dashboard

MenuPriceOptimizer™ takes all of the factors mentioned above into consideration and creates an output which shows the projected effects across the board. The user would then be able to see the potential impact a single price change could have to their business.

MenuPriceOptimizer™ takes all of the factors mentioned above into consideration and creates an output which shows the projected effects across the board. The user would then be able to see the potential impact a single price change could have to their business.

 
 
 

Optimization

In addition to the simulated projections, MenuPriceOptimizer™ can also suggest optimal presets for all menu items designed to maximize revenue with little to no impact to sales volume. Based on a vast quantity of past data, the software will provide four different suggested pricing strategies.

3%

Inflation

slight adjustment only to account for inflation with no change to revenue

6%

Recommended

slight increase to revenue with no virtually no effect on sales volume

10%

Moderate

average increase to revenue with little to no effect on sales volume

15%

Aggressive

higher return in revenue with slight impact to sales volume

mockup of presets options of PSL dashboard
Mockup of simulation and optimization dashboard in menu price optimizer

Main challenges

Turning Data into Information

The complexity in this project lies in the pure quantity of variations on any given menu. Each client could potentially have hundreds of different menu items, each with their own variation. For example, a simple “chicken sandwich” could have different types of bread or toppings or add-on ingredients, and each variation could have a different price point. The total number of possibilities resulting from different combinations and permutations is far greater than what is typically seen on a menu. The challenge from a design perspective was to represent the vast quantity of data on the screen in a way that was easy to understand and intuitive to navigate.

Our designers started by identifying UX issues in the existing software. We then looked at the results from our discovery session (user personals, goals, features etc.), and revamped the UX and the information architecture to best facilitate the user journey. We consolidated the “simulation” dashboard by placing the pricing table and the dashboard in a single view. We also gave the platform a new UI treatment, making it feel more modern and minimalistic.

Mockup showing number of different stores on dashboard

High Volume of Data

Working with big data in pricing presents its unique challenges when bringing the software from an offline environment to an online one. To date, PSL holds pricing data for hundreds of franchisee stores around the world. To put things in perspective, that equates to millions of rows in the pricing tables. When we’re dealing with a web application, there’s an expectation for an instantaneous response whenever an action is taken. This is also true for uploading large file sizes like franchisee reports. To keep performance high, and load times low, our engineers employed a myriad of tactics to optimize for speed. They created an asynchronous import process where the user can continue using the app while necessary files are being uploaded in the background.

 
 
 
Overall it was a great experience working with TTT Studios. I found the discovery session to be very valuable and I think the design was excellent. In the end, we got what we wanted, the app looks great, and the team was a pleasure to work with.

 

Fred Puech

VP of Pricing Analytics

In short…

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Through an in-depth discovery session, TTT Studios defined the necessary features for the MenuPriceOptimizer™, and delivered a high quality Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
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TTT Studios brought the MenuPriceOptimizer™ from an offline environment to an online platform, making it accessible to multiple users.
dashboard
The design team from TTT, revamped the UX of MenuPriceOptimizer™, making the app easier to navigate, and more seamless for its users to achieve their goals.

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