₹4.23 LAKH CRORE
Size of India’s foodservice industry
₹1.48 LAKH CRORE
Share of organised food service
Mumbai-based fine-dining restaurant, Bombay canteen’s mother’s day brunch, along with fancy cocktails and music, is something many upmarket residents of maximum city look forward to every year. However, for the second consecutive year, mother’s day had to be celebrated indoors because of the lockdown. Since restaurants are allowed to do home deliveries this time round, Bombay canteen founders Sameer Seth and Yash Bhanage saw an opportunity in recreating their signature mother’s day brunch experience at their patrons’ homes.
They created a mother’s day brunch box, which had a pre-curated menu that was delivered to guests who ordered from them. The highlight of the brunch box was a Qr code, which took guests to a Spotify playlist — they could play their favourite music as they relished their brunch. Similarly, for Bombay Sweet Store, their high-end sweet retail brand, the duo decided to have an Instagram poll on what should be the Mother’s Day signature ice cream flavour this year. Instagrammers voted for their popular Gymkhana Cold Coffee ice cream, and they launched limited-edition Gymkhana Cold Coffee tubs.
The pandemic has led to a bloodbath in the restaurant and food retail industry. Around 30 per cent restaurants have closed down and job losses are at 40 per cent
Seth and Bhanage admit that had it not been for the pandemic, creating a fancy homedelivery experience would never have been their priority. “Delivery was an afterthought,” says Seth. “We as restaurateurs were comfortable with brick-and-mortar. When we were making money, we didn’t worry about technology. The lockdown has accelerated our focus on technology. It will only get better,” adds Bhanage.
The pandemic has been an eye-opener for the ₹4.2-lakh crore restaurant and food retail industry. It introduced them to a truth they had conveniently overlooked — adopt digital as a way of life or perish. The writing on the wall was clear almost six years ago when aggregators such as Swiggy and Zomato surfaced. Consumers overnight switched to the comfort of placing their food orders on an app rather than calling up the restaurant to place an order. Despite losing their home-delivery business to Swiggy and Zomato, restaurateurs didn’t bother too much until the lockdown brought business to a grinding halt and aggregators slapped them with commissions as steep as 30 per cent. It left restaurateurs with hardly any room for profits. “It was like the frog in hot water. We didn’t realise we got too late,” says Riyaz Amlani, Managing Director, Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality (which owns chains such as Social, Salt Water Grill and Smokehouse Deli) and President, National Restaurant Association of India.
“Customers prefer aggregators as they get great deals from them, but all these deals are being given by restaurants. We are paying heavily to aggregators for services they provide, and we are not connecting with our customers or building relationships,” adds A.D. Singh, Founder and Managing Director, Olive Group of Restaurants (which owns formats such as Olive Bar & Kitchen, SodaBottleOpenerWala, Monkey Bar and Fatty Bao).
The last year has seen every restaurant or food retail company launch their own digital platform. They have partnered with Shopify, Shoptimize, DotPe and Thrive, who help them not just power their respective platforms, but also market their brands. The goal is to reduce dependence on aggregators and take charge of the delivery business. After all, from a mere 5-10 per cent of revenues in the pre-pandemic era, home delivery is likely to contribute 2530 per cent of overall revenues of restaurants and food retail companies. They certainly don’t want to let that go out of their hands by paying steep commissions to aggregators. Also, restaurants end up paying an additional 5-7 per cent as marketing fee to aggregators, taking their overall pay-out to aggregators between 35-40 per cent per order.
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