Hai Zhong Bao's traditional dishes have made the leap to online delivery. (Screenshot from IMDA video)
By Francis Kan
Digital technologies are giving smaller food and beverage (F&B) operators a larger bite of the local market by helping them ramp up their productivity and reach a larger pool of customers without breaking the bank.
For instance, a growing number of establishments are taking advantage of affordable digital solutions from local tech start-ups to offer their own online ordering and delivery service, sometimes in conjunction with third-party food delivery service providers such as Foodpanda and Deliveroo. Previously, only large restaurant chains with deep pockets and economies of scale could offer in-house delivery.
Last year, home-grown coffee shop chain Hai Zhong Bao implemented a mobile ordering and payment solution to manage its online pick-up and delivery orders as well as in-store orders. The solution developed by local technology firm Getz allows users to manage the entire ordering, payment and fulfilment process on an iPad.
The Getz solution in action at one Hai Zhong Bao outlet. (Screenshot from IMDA video)
Using the Getz system in conjunction with Foodpanda, Hai Zhong Bao saw its share of online orders rise to over 20 per cent of the company's total sales just three months after using the platforms. The cost of using the Getz ordering system was also 20 per cent cheaper compared to using third-party ordering platforms.
"Instead of relying on third-party platforms, our solution allows clients to have access to all online services while maintaining their brand name," said Getz co-founder Steve Wah. The company's other clients include Sakae Sushi, Bali Thai, and Singapore Exchange-listed coffee shop operator Kimly, amongst others.
Getz's offering is among the digital solutions that is pre-approved by IMDA under the SMEs Go Digital programme which aims to help local enterprises adopt proven digital solutions. The solutions range from digital ordering and payment to supply chain optimisation and resource and billing management.
Under the programme, SMEs can access a range of easy-to-use digital solutions that have been tried and tested by SMEs in the sector. The solutions would have undergone stringent evaluation by IMDA before being pre-approved by SMEs’ use. This gives SMEs a peace of mind over the solution's capability and vendors’ reliability.
A screenshot of Oddle's website.
In another refreshing example, local firm J3 Juice, which sells cold-pressed juices, turned to another online food-ordering platform offered by tech start-up Oddle to launch its e-commerce website and offer islandwide delivery.
Oddle provides restaurant operators with an order management system that allows them to create an online ordering site and take in delivery orders.
"Oddle has made daily operations for our non-dine-in business much easier. Our customers are able to make their purchases on the go, and we are able to achieve up to two times turnover," said Jeff Jin, co-founder of J3 Juice.
Beyond order and delivery solutions, F&B operators are also implementing digital point-of-sale (POS) systems in their establishments to streamline processes and save costs.
Beer bar Freehouse, for instance, uses a POS system from Revel Systems – another SMEs Go Digital pre-approved solution provider – that allows its staff to send orders directly to the bar and kitchen on the go.
Through the system, wait staff can also immediately access information on what drinks are available, the percentage of alcohol in a drink and even tasting notes, thus allowing them to serve their customers more effectively.
Freehouse managers also get access to some simple data analytics – the system helps them keep track of inventory levels and which products are selling well to help them make more informed decisions regarding purchasing and promotions.
Besides affordability, one key feature of these POS systems is the ease of use. Local tech firm FoodZaps, for instance, offers the an Android mobile POS system for cafes, restaurants and bars. Users simply have to download the app from Google Play and they can use the system to streamline orders management, inventory and reporting.
This avoids the need for expensive software and hardware in traditional POS systems, and allows businesses to set up the system within minutes using their mobile devices. The app can be connected directly to an establishment's Wi-Fi router, cash drawer or receipt printer.
The Foodzaps app was named the Best Innovative Infocomm Product/Solution – Digital Services at the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF) Awards 2017.
(Editor: The SiTF has rebranded itself as SGTech.)
With digital solutions like these available on the market, smaller F&B operators are able to grow in the digital economy and focus on what matters most: serving up delicious food to hungry customers.