As with every other business sphere, the F&B industry has been changed forever by new technology, with this transformation accelerated by the pandemic – the greatest of all rug pullers – as well as rising consumer trends for healthier, more sustainable food.
There’s a lot happening in this sector and those who want to stay afloat need to understand these new realities. From large corporations to independent restaurants, tech and data driven analytics are becoming integral to the overall operation.
So much has changed in this industry – between the impact of Covid-19 on supply chains and customer demands and existing pressures for improved sustainability, transparency, and food safety, F&B companies are moving fast to implement digital transformation. The weaknesses in the model were highlighted during pandemic with numerous factors playing critical role in spurring the industry into this transformational process.
Digital transformation is here to help redefine how workforce, supply-chain, processes, consumer behaviour and consumption – in short, overall operations of the new environment.
So how can you best prepare your company for the future and why is this the right time to make this happen. Here are four major impacts of digitalisation to consider.
Diners are less willing to wait
A new Oracle Food and Beverage survey of more than 5,700 global consumers across 11 geographies – including the UAE – conducted by Untold Insights on preferences for ordering food, showed that while customers enjoy using tech-driven options, they’re also much more impatient. A significant 49% don’t want to wait more than five minutes to order at the counter, while 62% of in-house diners were upset if they had to wait more than ten minutes.
Speed to consumers has become a major factor for not just the F&B industry but other consumer brands as well. While tech is an enabler, other functions within the supply chain and inventory should be re-evaluated to ensure everything runs seamlessly and helps to mitigate unforeseen challenges.
Revenge dining is a thing
On the flipside, the survey also showed that after the pandemic – much like the rise of ‘revenge tourism’, meaning people desiring to make up for lost holiday and travel time – a huge 62% of participants said they will eat out daily to several times a week in coming months. So having technology that helps kitchens manage and time orders from multiple channels will be key to ensuring diners stay happy and loyal to a brand.
But with the pandemic not quite over yet, tech will help drive data driven advancements while also measuring efficiency and product quality. To be a dynamic player in this industry, the multi-level play is more crucial than ever and that can only be aided by digital tools.
Predictive analytics is being used to boost sustainability
Sustainability is the leading issue for most F&B companies now as the consumer desire for better product traceability and visibility increases. On the food shopping side, sustainably minded customers are also driving the move to “greener” manufacturing processes – and to that end, plants have started to use high tech predictive analytics solutions to help raise overall plant efficiency and cut emissions, energy use, and wasted resources.
Tech enables you to identify issues of your current processes that may be holding you back to achieve peak results. Ultimately this can positively impact your profitability as well. Having technology on your side will not only prepare you for the future but also enable you to stay ahead of the curve in a competitively challenging environment.
Social media is making or breaking F&B brands
Major F&B trends like coconut water, spiralised vegetables, and kombucha started with celebrities and sports stars talking enthusiastically about them on social media. But macro-influencers who gather a few hundred thousand followers on social media based on their passion for food can also seriously make or break a product or brand. Then you have micro-influencers with 5,000 to 25,000 fans – they may be unpaid, but they can be powerful in establishing trends and convincing shoppers/diners based on their authenticity. Brands ignore the social media space at their peril.
Having a social media strategy for your product or service therefore should be on top of the charts for your F&B offering. Don’t underestimate the power of visual content and invest in creating images and videos of your brand for social media distribution. Think word of mouth marketing but on a digital platform. Digital content creators add a personable touch to their content which is more relatable and shareable as well.