By Mohamed Al Fayed
Competition in the Food and Beverage (F&B) industry is now more intense than ever. The industry faces growing complexities such as maintaining strict food safety standards, on-time delivery, and operational efficiency to name a few. Achieving a competitive advantage in the food and beverage industry through innovative technology will help restaurant operators evolve and survive, rather than being overwhelmed by the ever-evolving needs of the sector and getting beaten by the competition.
In recent times, off-premises dining has witnessed a huge surge in popularity. Food delivery worldwide is a $122 billion industry, expected to grow at over 7% a year through 2024. According to eMarketer, currently, there are 45.6 million people who use mobile food delivery apps, and this number is expected to reach 53.9 million by 2023. Even after the lockdown restrictions were lifted, the secular shift towards online food ordering proves that the demand is here to stay and 60% of restaurants say that offering online ordering options has resulted in increased revenue.
As technology is advancing rapidly in various industries, the food and beverage sector is also embracing innovation. The online food delivery industry was born out of a love of convenience and speed that consumers receive from other industries such as retail and e-commerce. This simply means that every aspect of online food delivery is compared to the high standards set by various e-commerce giants such as Amazon and eBay.
The advancement in technology and changes in consumer preferences has led to the emergence of cloud or ghost kitchens, while food aggregators such as Talabat, Deliveroo, Zomato, and Uber Eats have made it easier for F&B businesses to add online food delivery as a sales channel and explore the introduction of delivery-centric brands.
Delivery only brands need to ‘wow’ their customers from the first interaction to ensure they become repeat customers. A unified cloud kitchen management platform can help operators achieve operational excellence, brand recognition, customer loyalty and improved revenues. Mohamed Al Fayed, CEO at grubtech, shares the role technology plays in achieving the productivity required for success and healthy unit economics of a cloud kitchen.
As the consumer demand for greater convenience and speed continues to accelerate, it is critical for restaurants and cloud kitchens to respond by adopting and incorporating more modern and data-driven technology into their day-to-day operations, enabling them to operate more cost-effectively, boost revenue while also improving the customer experience. Hence, F&B operators can no longer view technology as a nice to have, but a must-have.
Some of the must-have features of a robust cloud kitchen management platform to deliver and exceed on customer expectations include –
Centralised menu management
Centralised menu management can enable restaurant operators to seamlessly expand and update their menu items across multiple brands and multiple food aggregators in real time, as well as update prices, and manage out of stock items.
This feature helps restaurant operators reduce both human errors and cancelled orders and create a seamless operation for an exceptional customer experience. It also provides restaurant operators with the ability to be effortlessly present wherever their customers are, without the additional hassle of dealing with siloed systems.
Optimize operations through automation
With all the delivery orders reflecting in a single system, it is easier to immediately begin preparing orders without any delays or confusion, reducing the time it takes to process orders while also reducing staff overhead.
Studies by McKinsey Global Institute reveal that 54 percent of tasks performed in restaurants and hotels can be automated. A wide spectrum of integrations with numerous partners that play a role in the cloud kitchen ecosystem including ERP’s, food aggregators, last mile delivery providers, and direct channels ensure automation of day-to-day tasks, resulting in enhanced customer satisfaction, increased efficiency, and reduced costs.
In-kitchen technology enablers such as interactive kitchen management systems, ensure that orders are routed to the assigned food preparation stations, staff are alerted when orders have been in the queue for too long and updates are shared with delivery providers in real-time. Introducing in-kitchen technology eliminates the need to manually enter information, makes sure that there are no lost orders, and optimizes workflows, to ensure that food is delivered at top quality and with efficient speed.
Transparency and trust
Well, 63% of Americans abandon digital takeout orders if they have a poor customer experience, and 55% of US adults want an easier online ordering system. Consumers accustomed to shopping online through apps or websites, with maximum convenience and transparency, are increasingly expecting the same experience when it comes to online food ordering. Data transparency of all events across the order lifecycle must be presented in an easy to understand and actionable visualization, allowing operators to measure each step of the journey, understand bottlenecks, address inefficiencies, and make necessary adjustments to enhance the end-to-end customer experience.