Technology has practically infiltrated everything in today’s world — from online shopping and e-hailing to vacation planning and ordering takeouts. A whole world of convenience is now yours for the taking with just a tap on your smartphone screen. In this increasingly technology-driven age, industries and companies must, therefore, leverage their companies by adapting and offering state-of-the-art solutions to help consumers enjoy better efficiency and savings. This is especially true in the food and beverage (F&B) industry, which is rapidly becoming one of the most dynamic sectors worldwide.
If you are an F&B business owner, here are seven of the most popular ways you can digitally optimise your business to remain relevant and competitive:
1. Utilise e-menus
Give your customers the option of ordering takeout in advance, as opposed to coming to your restaurant to make orders and then waiting for their orders to be ready. You can upload e-menus on your website, where customers can select the dishes they like and make payment from there prior to picking up their food at your restaurant. Alternatively, you can also install e-menu iPads at your premise, where customers can tap in their orders. This way, you will be able to minimize errors on mistaken orders and free up your manpower to do more heavy lifting.
Alternatively, if your website is not e-commerce-equipped, you can make e-menus available on your Facebook page and give your customers the option to call or text to order. Customers then can make payment via online transfer or any other cashless payment methods. This, of course, is a manual process that requires manpower and is bound to encounter human errors. However, it offers your customer the option of not having to commute to your restaurant and/or wait around for their food order to be ready.
2. Engage food delivery service(s)
Food delivery services are all the rage today, thanks to our increasingly busy lifestyles and equally busy traffic. Food delivery services, such as Food Panda, GrabFood and Deliveroo not only offer customers the convenience of selecting their food through an app, but it also gives F&B business owners with smaller premises an opportunity to sell more, should their restaurants be overly crowded to allow for dine-ins or is booked for a sit-in event.
What’s more, food delivery services usually also work in tandem with other service providers, such as Boost and GrabPay, offering attractive offers and discounts that would appeal to food lovers.
3. Offer loyalty programs
Loyalty programs are something that has been proven to work time and time again. Your loyalty program doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as giving away a free drink each time a customer pays using a cashless method, offering a percentage of cashback with a certain amount spent or even a free meal with every 10 meals purchased. You can also do a collaboration with other parties, such as other businesses and credit card companies to come up with more attractive offers.
Loyalty programs come in many different models — both paid and free membership. Paid membership builds a community of advocates with cash upfront, that offers a boost in cash flow. Other than cashback and collaborations, other popular models include referral, where you get rewarded when you refer friends and family, and the voucher program that offers tier rewards for certain amounts spent.
Loyalty programs are a win-win model for everyone involved. It offers value for customers and gives added visibility and edge to F&B businesses.
4. Use an online HR application to manage employees
For large-scale businesses, managing employees can be a full-time job that requires a full-fledged HR team. But for most F&B businesses and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of less than 50 employees, you can always utilise free online software or applications, such as Talenox or Payroll2u.
The functions of these free software and applications may be limited, but for small establishments, basically, all you need to have would be the payroll function, claims calculator, CPF calculator, levy calculator and leave management system. These HR applications and software can also help you streamline other work-related issues, such as e-mailing payslips every month and reminding employees of their leave balance.
Other HR online tools, such as StaffAny also provides onsite time clock, smart timesheet, realtime report and connected workforce for remote work environments.
5. Utilize e-procurement solutions
Modern procurement apps offer an easy to use ordering platform that allows users to maintain full control over F&B outlets through one single application. Businesses can place orders, receive or upload digitized invoices, track expenditures and use analytical insights to observe price changes. In the long run, the analytical insights can help food industry business owners save money and manage daily operations efficiently without unnecessary snags along the way.
As a solution for small and medium business owners, EzyProcure offers an integrated system for a seamless e-commerce experience, which enables both buyers and suppliers to conduct their day to day procurement process in a smooth and timely manner. This convenient platform enables the procurement process to be fully automated, this, in turn, will lead to more credit and better cash flow. EzyProcure’s intuitive user interface and multilingual capabilities also make it easy for users to operate within the platform.
EzyProcure also implements a proprietary optical character recognition (OCR) technology that enables 3-way-matching of your Purchase Order (PO), Goods Receive (GR) and Invoice that saves 70 per cent of the manual effort on AP reconciliation, making work more efficient even for employees. At the end of each month, EzyProcure also produces comprehensive business analytics to assist food industry business owners in making smarter decisions for their establishment. Most importantly, EzyProcure simplifies the procurement process and automates workflow with seamless integration to your backend systems.
6. Take advantage of the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG)
The Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) helps Singapore companies grow and transform. This grant supports projects that help you upgrade your business, innovate or venture overseas, under three pillars: Core Capabilities, Innovation and Productivity and Market Access.
The grant funds qualifying project costs namely third party consultancy fees, software and equipment, and internal manpower cost. As announced at Supplementary Budget 2020, the maximum support level will be raised to 80% from 1 April 2020 to 31 December 2020. For enterprises that are most severely impacted by COVID-19, the maximum support level may be raised to 90% on a case-by-case basis.
To qualify for the EDG, you need to:
- Be registered and operating in Singapore
- Have a minimum of 30% local shareholding
- Be in a financially viable position to start and complete the project
Find out how you can apply for the EDG here.
7. Create a website
Your website is the calling card for your business. It is where existing and potential customers get to see your products and service offerings and see whether they like them, without having to visit your physical store.
In this age of e-commerce, it is optimal to have a website that also allows the option for online ordering/shopping. However, if you are new in the F&B business, take this opportunity to create an attractive digital catalogue on your website. At least, this will give your customers and curious website visitors an idea of what you have to offer for future decision making.
Because of the visual nature of a website and of F&B businesses, having attractive, attention-grabbing images are crucial in the making of an effective website. Take time also to play around with interactive features and short clips that are not too heavy on the bandwidth.
8. Have an active social media presence
The only way to be relevant these days is by constantly being visible on the social media timeline, mainly on Instagram and Facebook. Keep your content fresh and interesting, and keep your audience updated on every new promotions and menu offering that you have.
Every now and then, do also post contents that will keep your viewers engaged, such as taking part in a trending challenge for a bit of fun. However, always tie back every posting (that doesn’t look immediately relevant) to your products and services. This would make your brand catchier and more memorable. Again, just like with your website, create attractive content with beautiful photos and ingeniously crafted captions.