The pandemic is turning out to be a pivotal moment in how nations, companies, and people are responding to the crisis. Like no other event in history, 2020 has turned around economies across the world — transforming how people work, communicate, eat, and shop.
Today, more than ever, restaurants and the foodservice industry are truly essential. The COVID-19 showed us how quickly consumer behavior changes and how resilient is the restaurant industry. Even though the restaurant sector is faring below last year’s revenue, we can see a visible increase in revenue month on month. As a technology enabler for restaurants, we clearly see some emerging trends that will shape the future of restaurants in 2021.
Based on the necessity and a will to survive, restaurants have been pivoting to meet customer expectations. In 2021, restaurant marketing strategy, design, and internal systems—for independent outlets and chains will evolve, and technology will become the core of their operations.
Chain restaurants will emerge stronger
2020 was a hard year for independent operators, who have seen the most recent closures due to limited financial capacity to keep business afloat. In such a scenario, healthy large chains will become more dominant. By making smart investments in newer models such as cloud kitchens, and building delivery efficient setup will increase unit growth to fill the void left by closed restaurants. Technology will be key in smoothening out the operations which in turn will increase in adoption of the cloud kitchen business model. According to our survey PRIME (POSist Restaurant Industry & Market Evolution) India Report 2020, 52% of fine-dine restaurants in India are optimistic about investing in a cloud kitchen to add an additional revenue stream in 2021.
Direct to Consumer channels will be the game-changer
Restaurants will increasingly go D2C (Direct to consumer) in 2021. In India, restaurants across metros are clocking almost one-third of their orders from direct channels, this is a shift purely coming on the back of a change in customer behavior and lucrative deals restaurants are offering to customers on orders from their owned channels. D2C channels such as websites, social media, and messaging platforms allow restaurateurs to set up their own digital storefront, customize the guest experience, manage online orders, and open new revenue streams in addition to third-party networks, ultimately enabling them to adapt to the new normal of dining.
Hyperlocal targeting will become critical
As the online ordering business will become more stable in India, we will see brands and aggregators invest in hyper-targeting customers per delivery radius. This will help in addressing very specific demands for the demographics of each pin code in a city or a state. Even within the same city, a delivery radius in a commercial area, student neighborhood, or a residential society will have different food needs. Addressing their unique food preferences will open ways for a smarter delivery system to be in place.
Restaurants will fully embrace digital ordering
Contactless dining tools such as QR codes, touchless payment options, and digital receipts help restaurants maintain basic hygiene as well as optimize their resources. QR code technology has remained an underrated technology to connect and transact in India. Today nearly one-third of restaurants in India are using QR code ordering technology since the COVID hit. We expect 80 percent of restaurants to adopt QR codes and online ordering technology by end of 2021.
In nutshell, COVID-19 has accelerated some drastic changes and adaptations upon the restaurant industry that will make the industry stronger than ever before. 2021 will see more jobs created in the sector, new brands to emerge and high-quality service standards to become a norm.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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