How restaurants need to embrace digital to survive in today's changing world
The world has changed the way restaurants operate. Instead of serving people through only physical establishments, restaurants have realised the need to have a strong digital presence, without which, it's the endgame for them. Be it taking orders through websites or being omnipresent on mobile apps, conducting business through forms of digital media has transformed the landscape for large and small restaurants alike.
According to the Boston Consulting Group's Google Report on Online Food Consumerism, by 2025, online spending is set to rise more rapidly by 25 percent CAGR, to $130 billion. This has led to the growth of thousands of startups tapping into the foodtech space in India, all set to grab a slice of this revenue pie.
Why the sudden shift online?
The growing digital penetration in every individual's lifestyle is the main reason for consumers shifting online. Consumers find it easier, more convenient, and quicker to place food orders through online delivery methods, applications, and websites, thus enabling better use of their own time. In fact, over the last three years, people have spent more time on food ordering apps, which has gone up from 27 minutes per person to about 64 minutes in a given day.
How do restaurants benefit from going digital?
Restaurants and food entrepreneurs have quickly recognised this need and tapped into the space in innovative ways. Let's find out how:
1. Social Media
In this day and age, how do you catch someone's attention for more than five seconds? By throwing visually appealing content to them online. The best way to do that is by making use of social media applications. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become the top platforms for restaurants to communicate with consumers – whether they buy from them or not.
Engaging with consumers
Creating engaging content enables restaurants to appeal to the consumer's senses. The better the content, the higher its value in terms of digital recognition.
Consumers love quick food hacks, information, offers, discounts, and beautiful aesthetics. If a restaurant constantly engages with consumers on these aspects, it succeeds in building recall brand value.
Whether you allow a consumer to place an order on WhatsApp, access your restaurant through food ordering apps, place yourself on various aggregator platforms or take orders through social media, or even showcase your brand through digital advertisement banners, make sure you have proper customer outreach.
As a restaurant, you need to ensure that you are digitally well-positioned to reach a targeted customer.
In the wake of the pandemic, consumers have become increasingly more aware of sanitisation procedures, and are extremely conscious about personal hygiene. If you operate physically, make sure you follow regulatory rules in terms of social distancing, providing customers with sanitisers, and clean your establishment thoroughly to retain customers.
But this isn't enough – consumers now also want contactless food ordering. Instead of browsing through physical menus, you need to ensure your restaurant has a QR code in place, which, when clicked, allows customers to sift through the menu.
For digital operations, restaurants need to make sure they follow top safety protocols – right from delivering hot and well-cooked food devoid of any bacteria, proper airtight packaging, to ensuring the consumers are left completely satisfied with not just the food, but the entire ordering experience
Safe and secure payment methods
Whether a consumer is paying at the restaurant or through an online food delivery app, restaurants have got to make that switch to digital payment methods. Gone are the days of cash transactions. Restaurants need to be updated with all commonly accepted modes of digital payments for a customer's convenience.
3. Learn from successful global businesses
Across the globe, the foodtech industry has witnessed bursts of innovation, depending on fast-growing consumer needs.
Using delivery apps and food aggregators
Currently, food aggregators – known as the "Amazons" of the food space – are dominating the foodtech space. Whether it's India or the US, food aggregators and delivery platforms are the one-stop-shop for consumers to seamlessly order food from a plethora of available options.
Restaurants have to make sure they have partnered with the most optimum platforms for the best possible customer outreach.
The days of brick and mortar food outlets are numbered. To reduce costs and to remain afloat in the world of heavy online app commissions, many restaurants have embraced the idea of having cloud kitchens.
These cloud kitchens have given the opportunity to thousands of smaller investors and home chefs to showcase their gastronomic talents and make more food options, at more affordable costs, available to consumers.
Subscriptions, pre-ordering, and customisation
With people barely having any time anymore, consumers find it increasingly beneficial to subscribe to food services, especially when they are used to placing orders daily.
Many restaurants have started offering subscription services, which allows consumers to save time, as well as have access to various meal kit options. For urban millennials and corporates, meal subscription services are becoming increasingly popular.
Moreover, restaurants also provide options to pre-order meals – another benefit for people who don't have the time or are constantly on-the-go. Many restaurants also provide customers with the ability to customise food orders, such as wuth Subway.
Future of the digital food space
Whether it's by ordering food through websites or getting meals delivered through food aggregators and mobile apps, the switch to the digital space has become a mandatory check for restaurants to survive in the food business. Embracing digital means to reach a consumer and retain them is the one way the foodtech space can thrive.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)