Never before in history have restaurants completely shut down, not even during times of war, but the ongoing pandemic has severely hit India’s F&B industry and local restaurants. According to data released by Dineout, “There is a drop in bookings and reservations during the initial days of the slowdown.”
Dineout has seen a drop of 6 percent in the number of restaurants in the first week of March, another 20 percent in the subsequent week and it came to a standstill from April till mid of June.
“The pandemic has had a cataclysmic effect on our business. The number of clients have gone away. Clients are just not ready to invest a single penny at this moment due to the uncertainty that looms ahead. This has dealt a blow to our company’s growth prospects. From growth, we now had to shift focus on sustenance and staying afloat during these times,” says Amrit Khandelwal, Co-Founder, Shoocal.
The pandemic has also resulted in new brands like BroEat! entering the foodservice industry. The brand aims to be a relief provider to the restaurants across the country impacted by the pandemic by giving its services to them at affordable fee.
“The pandemic has made the restaurants realise that the food delivery business is here to stay and will have a bigger percentage of the customer revenue for a long time now. Keeping that in mind, we need to ensure that the business is profitable and sustainable. BroEat! is the answer to that very question and ensures that the math of the delivery business works out for the restaurant,” states Pawan Shahri, Co-founder BroEat!
Revolutionising the Foodservice Industry
The foodservice industry has been extremely labour intensive and archaic. COVID-19 has shown the importance of digitalization and the long-term impact that it can offer.
“Our solution offers our clients a way to integrate their delivery, take away and dining under a single platform through which they can solicit their customer data and use it to interact with them effectively and efficiently by sending feedbacks, offering loyalty and doing relevant and targeted marketing. This will revolutionise the customer experience at the most fundamental level,” says Khandelwal.
“BroEat! is giving power and responsibility back in the hands of the restaurant. Restaurants will now deal with customers directly, ensure that the orders placed are taken care of thoroughly and that the customer experience is managed to the best of their abilities. We also provide restaurants with sufficient tech to handle and manage their backend efficiently. The restaurant manages their entire dashboard now and has the power to give discounts or freebies as it likes versus the forceful platform driven discounts which some of the aggregators use. We will soon start onboarding home chefs and street-food vendors as well, which will revolutionise the business in a massive way. This is a huge untapped market in the country and the need for the same exists but has never been catered to,” adds Shahri.
Amidst this uncertainty and the ongoing country-wide lockdown, local restaurants have taken a severe hit as they have either had to shut operations altogether or limit their services to takeaway and delivery options to prevent contamination. To help them navigate through this turmoil, Dineout has built and launched the country’s most comprehensive contactless dining suite for restaurants.
“We believe technology will play a significant role in this post-COVID-19 era to establish trust and build confidence in the minds of consumers and help the F&B industry adapt to the new normal. Everything from informing diners about the restaurant’s new safety measures, booking a table, pre-ordering dishes to minimise waiting time, seamless takeaway, contactless payments and ensuring superior hygiene standards are the need of the hour for the entire hospitality industry. This shift is necessary for restaurants to get diners knocking on their doors again. We have also extended our contactless tech to malls and retail spaces to effectively manage their operations,” says Ankit Mehrotra, CEO & Co-founder, Dineout.
Increasing Consumer Engagement
In the wake of the pandemic, consumers will take some time to gain the confidence to go out again and earning back this consumer confidence is of prime importance for the F&B business.
“We have recently introduced the #SafeToEatOut campaign highlighting the safety and hygiene measures that restaurants are taking across services – dine-in, home-delivery and take-away. To make sure that restaurants are following hygiene norms, we have partnered with Equinox Labs for food safety and hygiene audits at partner restaurants. Dineout users would be able to see these ratings on our app and make an informed choice,” explains Mehrotra.
“We’re looking at consumer engagement in two parts:
1. How BroEat! as a brand engages with consumers – For this, we have various different mechanisms in place including approachable touchpoints like a WhatsApp-based ordering module, best price points on BroEat! from all restaurants and all our information touchpoints that go to the consumers regularly.
2. How restaurants onboard engage with consumers – Our built-in CRM features help restaurants bring in consumers and then engage with them freely, on a regular basis,” Shahri says.
Future of Foodservice Industry
The four-month nation-wide shutdown has severely hit our country’s F&B industry and local restaurants resulting nearly 35 percent of them to shut down.
“Dineout – with a partner-first approach – has evolved its offerings keeping up with the changing trends in the restaurant industry and to cater to the new demands of consumers. While there was an increase in home-cooking during lockdown, we are now seeing a surge in demand for takeaways and drive-throughs over the last one month. We have expanded our offering to users to meet the changing needs of the restaurant industry and introduce takeaways and drive-through services for its users and partners, providing restaurateurs with a lot more opportunities to grow profitably and sustain during this transition,” states Mehrotra.
According to Dineout data, “In India, takeaway and drive-through contributed around 1 percent of the overall revenue of the restaurant industry as compared to 15 -20 percent in the US and Europe during pre-COVID times. However, given the current trends in India, it is expected to go up to 15 percent over the next 6 months.”
“We expect a more customer-centric and less labour reliant foodservice industry in the future. The digitization of ordering will enable restaurants to offer a high-quality experience to their customers with a better understanding of their like-dislike, choice and behaviour. On the other hand, digitization would lead to less reliance on staff and management, leading to leaner balance sheets for restaurants,” concludes Khandelwal.