- Takeaway and home delivery have become the key survival strategy for restaurant businesses
- QSR chains are exploring direct-to-customer channels
- WhatsApp and a mobile app allow F&B outlets to personalise their service and engage with customers directly
- Direct reach help QSR chains with customer data and marketing
Takeaway and home delivery have become the key to survival for restaurant industry amid ongoing coronavirus crisis. In the pre-lockdown phase, the focus of quick-service restaurant or QSR chains was on in-store experience, and home delivery was outsourced to food aggregator apps such as Zomato and Swiggy.
But now to succeed in the new normal, brands are trying different ways to bring that expertise in-house. They are exploring different direct-to-customer platforms to communicate with consumer directly and strengthen their engagement.
Sagar Daryani, CEO and Co-Founder of Kolkata-based fast food chain Wow! Momo says, "Consumers who order from aggregators are our customers but we don't own them." To have a complete view of the customers, Wow! Momo has tied up with Gurgaon based O2O commerce technology provider Dotpe to offer online ordering on WhatsApp. "WhatApp is already an intrinsic part of our daily lives and allows connecting with the consumers in a personalised manner," says Daryani.
The customers will have to message the business's WhatsApp number and they will get the menu in real time from the nearest Wow! Momo outlet. They can place the order by 'messaging' the food of their choice upon which they will receive a link to complete the payment. The firm plans to launch this service in the next month.
Tata Starbucks too has already started taking orders from WhatsApp number, following which the consumers can pick up their beverage from the store.
An order and pay mobile app is also in the works and will be launched anytime soon. It will allow consumers to order online, following which they can pick up their order from the nearest store without queuing up. "The app is already launched in other countries. Its launch in India has been delayed due to COVID," says Tata Starbucks CEO, Navin Gurnaney. He adds that the Starbucks app is a success story in the US where 10-12 per cent of the orders in each store are placed through the app.
Burger King has recently launched its mobile app and a national Whatsapp number is on the cards."Brands started using these platforms to engage customers but now are levering it for end-to-end ordering and delivery because of the direct connect and reach they offer," says Srinivas Adapa, CMO, Burger King India.
He adds that these are not sudden trends but have been in the pipeline for some time. "As a brand we were already moving to a digital consumer interface where a customer can order Burger King in any platforms anytime, anywhere. What COVID has done is accelerated that change," says Adapa.
Saurabh Kalra, Senior Director-Strategy and Operations, McDonald's India (West and South) says the direct to customer channels are important for brands to have an omni-view of customer. "Customers order in different ways, sometimes they dine-in, other times they want to take away or get it delivered at home. A brand has to have a complete view of their online and offline behaviour for relevant communication and data-driven marketing strategy to build loyalty." They are currently evaluating the different use cases for WhatsApp Business for their brand.
WhatsApp Business app was launched in 2018 and has got 15 million monthly app users in India.