By Kelly R
As Singapore eases into Phase 2 of the country’s phased reopening, food and beverage (F&B) outlets will need to step up safety measures as they open up once again for dine-ins. Most F&B owners would have recognised by now that there will be a period of adjustment to the new normal before businesses can pick up speed again.
Despite the lifting of restrictions on dine-ins since 19 June 2020, people would still be cautious about eating outside. Some companies have even decided to adopt telecommuting (or, work from home) indefinitely. This may result in continued slow foot traffic. With the new norms in mind, F&Bs are facing new uncertainties that they will have to find ways around.
F&Bs will need to reassure customers that they are taking the necessary steps to maintain a clean and hygienic environment.
Precautionary measures like frequent cleaning and disinfection of the premises have to be put in place. Business owners need to enforce hygiene protocols for employees and themselves to diligently follow as well. Owners may also need to consider installing table shields. Table shields act as physical barriers, making it harder for respiratory droplets to land on someone else.
In addition to measures for keeping the premises clean, F&Bs have to ensure that the safe management rules by MOM are strictly followed. This includes a considerable distance between tables (to be safe, 1 metre or further), no more than five diners to a table, and a greater awareness of personal hygiene. Sanitisers should be readily available for use by employees and customers around the outlet.
Business owners that wish to go the extra mile could provide customers with alcohol wipes for interactive devices (e.g. iPads or smart kiosks) if those are used for contactless ordering. Putting up helpful signs to advise customers may also provide them with a greater sense of peace. Signs could recommend that customers place their masks either on a clean tissue or in a resealable bag when they are eating. Steps taken by the outlet to disinfect and ensure a clean environment could also be included. This reassures customers that your business is doing its best to keep its customers safe.
Indeed, reopening in Phase 2 will require more effort and careful management to bring business back up to pre-COVID-19 levels.
However, it may well be that no matter how dedicated F&Bs are to enforcing these measures, their revenue does not see improvements. Other than ensuring a safe dining environment, owners need to worry about food supplies.
How the COVID-19 situation unfolds will continue to change. It will be harder to gauge customer count and the number of food supplies required. Unpredictable, fluctuating customer volume would lead to either a shortage or excess of food supplies. This is in addition to the existing supply chain disruptions around the world. Due to Singapore’s heavy reliance on imports, the restrictions on the export of food and medical supplies have adversely impacted the country.
These supply chain disruptions mean that it will be even more challenging to navigate any changes based on the spread of the virus.
F&B owners will, therefore, need to be flexible and react quickly to changes. They may need to consider expanding their market outreach to supply systems all over the world. This would ensure that they do not completely rely on a single source for supplies.
With a larger supplier base, F&Bs can switch to different suppliers when the need arises. They would then have one less worry should unforeseen situations occur, such as the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus over the past few months.
There thus needs to be a way to allow F&B businesses to access an expanded supplier base. That would allow them to optimise their food supply volume according to changes in the spread of the virus.
One such method would be to get onboard a cross-border solution that eases the import of food supplies. EzyProcure has launched a CrossBorder platform, first of its kind in Singapore, in collaboration with logistics partner Alliance 21. The platform was launched to help the F&B industry manage supply chain disruptions and high freight costs.
The platform streamlines supply chain work by providing users with compliance monitoring tools. Information about credit score, Adverse Media reports and others will allow business owners to make better-informed decisions.
Its large marketplace of over 2000 accredited food exporters approved by the Singapore Food Agency provides users with an extensive range of overseas partners too. F&B owners no longer need to fear a lack of supplies with a larger range of supplier choices.
Furthermore, all entities are issued a tracking ID supported by Mastercard® Payment and goods transactions are therefore secure and safe. Users also enjoy double the usual credit term of up to 60 days, as well as low freight rates.
SGeBIZ’s partner Alliance 21 will manage end-to-end logistics, from port clearance to the last mile delivery. F&Bs can hence take a step back with regards to procuring food supplies. With more time on their hands, owners can redirect their focus to making changes that will sustain their business in the long run.
In these uncertain times, businesses will need to be prepared to swiftly make changes when the situation calls for it. Adopting digital tools will allow them to simplify processes like supply chain management, and cope with the ever-changing nature of situations like the COVID-19 pandemic.