#Bitestoinsights: Elevating the food industry

July 4, 2024 | By Anurima Das

#Bitestoinsights session at Food Service Forum 2024

The food industry is constantly undergoing transformation through innovative approaches, operations and customer experience. During this panel discussion at the recently concluded Food Service Forum 2024 leaders shared their insights, strategies and success stories of adapting to the changing landscape of consumer expectations and technological advancements.

Innovation in the F&B industry can be thought of in multiple ways. Overtly the idea of innovation may be simply to do with adapting new concepts and putting in place innovative technologies to bring in change. However, the possibility of innovation in this industry is diverse and does also mean innovating the supply chain and bringing in right practices, innovative yet sustainable processes across varied nodes in the backend, in order to offer customer-centricity, stated Cedric Dallemagne, Director & Head of EMEA Chief Strategy Officer Program, Deloitte.

When operating a global franchisee model, it is important to have a precise quality control mechanism in place that helps keep an eye on the functions and processes of every branch, added Anton Deryagin, Head of Franchise Growth, Dodo Pizza. “We have considered this aspect and laid the foundation right through AI and other technology implementations from the very beginning. This helps us keep an eye on the operations across all our branches, globally. We can make amends, improve and take a stock of everything in real time and ensure that we match customer expectations, universally.”

“Innovation for me, from a hospitality perspective is more aimed towards enhancing the guest experiences. So, a lot of the innovation that we see in technology is not necessarily directly in front of the guest. It’s actually functioning behind the scenes to create an enhanced value-added effect. Innovation for most of us is the mechanism that drives efficiency, and it is always underlying. But without the right innovative framework it is not possible to achieve functional efficiencies as well. So, it is the undeniable truth that helps build the frontend,” observed Marcus Sutton, General Manager, Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens.

“Consistency is key to building the right brand perception and this definitely gets derailed when you spread out your brand’s presence all across varied formats of retail. However, we have been very lucky to get a very positive customer response over the years and that hook which we successfully created has helped with our growth. The challenging part was to maintain the right messaging across offline and online and we have done that by building a strong operations and social media teams,” shared Mazen Kanaan, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, House of Pops.

“Innovation does not necessarily mean technology adaptation,” Neharika Sharma, General Manager, Foodics UAE pointed out. “Rather, I would debate that for the right implementation to bring out meaningfulresults, we need people to pioneer change. Our customer base comprises varied restaurant owners, coming from distinct universes and serving diverse cuisines. Their customer bases are also distinct and that’s why it is important to customise technology as per their needs and audience. We believe in assistance that helps empower our customers and allows them to deal with their audience with more ease. We cannot always expect the grassroot level individuals in the ecosystem to understand technology and its importance in operations, so we need to shoulder the change by making them aware of the impact and end result.”

“As a marketer it is very important for us togauge the marketneeds and have a clarity ofwhat the customer wantsin order to put forward a marketing strategy and plan,” Wendy Griffith, Marketing Director, Food Quest elaborated. “We have to be observant of the brand and what the customer expectations are towards it. Going omnichannel can be the need of the hour and many companies within your ecosystem are likely to adapt to this trend to make it more customer centric. However, to grab engagement and create the right buzz, we cannot just follow what the others are doing and start going omnichannel. It is vital for us to step back and understand the workings of our brand more closely to estimate if at all omnichannel will be effective for our customers. Most cases, we may just see that a simple digital orientation will be enough to carry on, in that case why would we diversify to build the omnichannel capabilities.”

“Customer engagement is key to retail growth and to spearhead exponential growth that a retailer can look forward to, which helps bring every store to register probably 3x sales as compared to the present number, technology plays a key role. But with technology comes varied responsibilities and understanding how one can manage their supply chain and customer expectations in the same breath by empowering the same end to end with technology crucial to success. Moreover, to gain real customer insights, you have to take the support of technology and it is the only support that will allow you to get real-actionable insights,” summarised Sadique Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer, RetailGPT.

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