One of the worst affected industries in the COVID-19 pandemic is Food & Beverage. Many restaurants across the country shut shops, leaving several people jobless.
After the lockdown was relaxed, many restaurants resorted to food delivery, and as days passed, they realised the need to launch their own food delivery, tech platforms.
Impresario Handmade restaurants, led by MD & CEO Riyaaz Amlani, announced its tech platform, on July 7. It will launch the group’s own home delivery capability, through its fleet, and also enable contactless dining experience in its restaurants.
No additional app download is required for the new platform. For home delivery, customers can order via a WhatsApp-enabled link that takes them directly to the ordering page through which dishes can be selected, customized and paid for. All communication about the order details, delivery status, and feedback will happen directly on WhatsApp
For the in-restaurant contactless dining experience, one needs to scan the unique QR code on the table from one’s mobile phone.
The hospitality chain currently has 58 restaurants across 16 Indian cities and multiple brands such as SOCIAL, antiSOCIAL, Smoke House Deli, Goodness to Go, Salt Water Café, FLEA Bazaar Café, Ishaara, Slink & Bardot, Soufflé S’il Vous Plaît, Prithvi Cafe and Mocha.
While the group’s restaurants are still on the network of a few delivery platforms, Amlani thinks that a stand-alone delivery platform could ensure better safety and hygiene, help restaurants to connect with their clients directly, collect intuitive data, design promotions, mass or customised, accordingly and sustain their workforce. Inside the restaurant, digital menus and food ordering option minimizes touchpoints and enhances safety.
Why did you decide to launch your delivery platform?
Food delivery apps have lost the advantage they used to offer: enabling people to discover restaurants, propelled by deep discounts. Also, these third-party apps give us little control over how the food would be delivered and whom does it get delivered to. In the time of COVID-19, new restaurants are not coming up and people know exactly what they want and where they want to order from. I believe technology will be an enabler to connect us back with our customers, which is why we are pivoting towards direct ordering from the restaurants and building one-on-one relationships with our customers through our tech-enabled platform. Now we can control the end-to-end experience of even home deliveries using this platform. There will be no involvement of third parties and no unnecessary app downloads. It’s really about taking our power back.
What are the other benefits of the delivery platform for your company?
With our own delivery platform, we will be able to save our workforce from retrenchment by involving them in food delivery. This is a more democratized environment for the restaurant industry. End-to-end control of home deliveries will also us ample opportunities for data-driven marketing as restaurants become familiar with customer’s food preferences.
In a restaurant-aggregator-customer scenario, the restaurateur does not know who is ordering their food and cannot access the database of their customers. This new online model will help us serve our customers better. For example, if someone loves biryani and if they order biryani every Friday, we have that data with us and can reach out to the customer with new options of biryani, offers on biryani and more.
But what about the numbers? Does it help the business in short and long-term? Divya Aggarwal, Head, Marketing of Impresario Handmade Restaurants answers these relevant questions for LuxeBook.
How cost-effective is it to launch a delivery platform vis-a-vis partnering with an existing food delivery platform?
We are all aware of the fact that the existing food delivery platforms and third-party aggregators come with a high commission cost, and this is something the restaurants have always struggled with. If a restaurant has its own platform and it handles the end-to-end delivery, it saves the commission fees and helps us offer discounts and deals to customers, building a better relationship with them.
Why did you choose a WhatsApp based platform and why not an app?
Having an app comes with its own implications such as creating awareness for the app and getting people to download it as opposed to Whatsapp, which all of us are on 24X7.
Why is a tech platform necessary today?
In times like these, we have to constantly explore newer ways of reaching out to the consumers, wherever they are. Our own tech-enabled platform ensures let’s us deliver the whole brand experience that the consumers experienced in our outlets. This can only happen when we can take care of the end-to-end delivery safety and ensure that hygiene SOPs are of the highest quality. The current times demand better control, better consumer experience.
How long will it take before consumers get used to restaurants’ new tech platforms?
The pandemic has and will shape consumer behaviour. Many traditional habits and behaviour have changed. That is why the most common words that we hear today are ‘new normal’ and ‘digitalization’ and digitization is something which is going to last even post-pandemic when things get back to normal. That trend was growing even before the pandemic. Due to the pandemic, the digitisation process has sped up.
Any consumer behaviour change does take its own time, but I think our job as a brand is to ensure that we create awareness and reach out to our clients. This crisis has taught us the importance of communicating directly with and not via third-party aggregators.