Opinion

Felix Salmon

Exploring Bundle’s data

By Felix Salmon
May 10, 2011

I’ve been playing around a bit with Bundle, a clever new tool which lets you scope out merchants — shops, bars, restaurants, hotels — based on actual aggregated consumer behavior, rather than reviews and other qualitative information.

Bundle’s based on a huge anonymized database of consumer credit-card and debit-card spending. So when you call up a merchant on Bundle, it’ll show you reviews, but it’ll also show you data like how often people who shop there go back.

The raw data is fascinating. For instance, the average spend at the Breslin is $70-80; at the Spotted Pig it’s $80-90; at Momofuku Ssam Bar it’s $90-100; at Lure Fishbar it’s $120-130, at Annisa it’s $200-210, and at Gramercy Tavern it’s $220-230. (At Per Se, it’s $890-900.)

And you can learn a lot just by seeing that Spotted Pig customers also tend to spend money at the Starbucks on the Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays.

Then there’s Bundle’s proprietary loyalty score, which is promising but which needs work. It’s based on three variables: purchase frequency, share of wallet, and popularity. And it’s meant to spit out a score in a range between 1 and 100. But I’ve been plugging in the restaurants I know with the greatest customer loyalty — the ones above, as well my own favorite, Oyster Bar — and so far the only place I’ve found with a score over 50 is Szechuan Gourmet, whose score of 60 still only counts as “average”. Poor Annisa only gets a 32, which might be related to its being closed for a large chunk of the database’s time period.

Meanwhile, the most popular restaurant in New York is a betting parlor, while #2 is a hairdresser.

So I’m definitely looking forward to the future of Bundle, where the loyalty algorithm will get improved. But the technology here is really promising: we vote with our wallets every time we spend money, and now those votes are being counted and analyzed.

How does Bundle separate out places where people tend to split the check from places where they don’t? Or places where they tend to go as couples from places where larger groups are more common? It doesn’t, yet, and I’m not sure it will ever be able to. But they do say that they’re looking to put together subsegments of the customer base — foodies, for instance, or deal-hunters.

And in the meantime, we can just marvel at some of the data which is already there. Here, for instance, is the data for Robert’s Steakhouse, an excellent restaurant which just happens to be located inside a strip club. Now that, it turns out, is a great way to build loyalty. And an average check of over $500.

robert2.tiff

Comments
8 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Thanks for writing about this.

On a side note, what do you think advertisers would be willing to pay see where I’m using my credit card? I don’t care about my card privacy, so I’d be willing to offer that information for a price.

Why haven’t the banks tried to release a charge card like this and juice the rewards even further (and likely skim more off the top)?

Same with my cable company – I’d be more than happy to have Verizon collect my viewing habits and sell that to advertisers, as long as my cable bill is lower.

Posted by djiddish98 | Report as abusive
 

Shame it seems to only have NYC and SF data right now. The interface says I can explore my city, but apparently London doesn’t count.

Posted by DrFuManchu | Report as abusive
 

only a matter of time before bundle goes tandem with a gps service, like foursquare
Still, it doesn’t seem like they capture enough data to properly aggregate based on the sources they list, and a quarterly update is too long of a lag

Posted by thispaceforsale | Report as abusive
 

Wherein Ben Stein breaks out of the stranglehold that Felix Salmon had on him, dusts himself off, and bravely soldiers on…
http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle  /productCd-1118038177.html

Posted by DanHess | Report as abusive
 

Relevence to Bundle… If you have not read Super Sad True Love Story by Shteyngart, you should. For better or worse, Bundle seems like one step closer to the world of that book. Can’t wait for my new apparat.

Posted by david3 | Report as abusive
 

It is very nice and useful to people.

Posted by helenmicheal | Report as abusive
 

looked up katz’s delicatessen and it says that people generally spend $60-$70 there! what people? they must be really really huge people.

Posted by q_is_too_short | Report as abusive
 

@q_is_too_short, maybe more than one person is eating? When I go to Katz’s, usually the whole bill is market on one person’s ticket.

Posted by Benquo | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •