Technology plays a big role in today’s food and beverage landscape, and with an ever growing lineup of tech items on the menu, brands must adopt and adapt according to the needs of the consumers. In this modern era, market forces require food and beverage establishments to seek efficiencies, achieve agility in their processes and adopt new technologies to stay competitive in the F&B world. Product quality and safety are obviously the top concerns as consumers are demanding healthier, less-processed, natural and local foods. As we have moved further in the digital era, more technological innovations are emerging to help shape the F&B industry’s future. With the significant shake-ups witnessed over the last couple of years, the sector has shifted increasingly from imitation to innovation.
Technology has been a key driver in a lot of changes for the F&B industry over the past few years and has had a positive impact on every facet of the society – it is definitely changing the food and beverage industry for the better. It’s providing consumers with the ultimate convenience they look for, when they want to dine-out, or order food at their door step and is helping the restaurateurs take their business to the next level as well. Consider tablet-based ordering at airport terminals, new packaging advances in food preparation and shipping, robotic bartenders and even AR interactions at the point of purchase. F&B brands looking to make a splash with technology have a lot to think about, as they work to align technological adoption with the needs and wants of their consumers.
When incorporating technology into product development, customer service and brand experience, the key point of consideration is that it should be relevant and convenient for the end consumer. Appliances from companies like Borosil, Kaff, Laopala, Glen, Kenwood are delivering relevant cooking technology in today’s context for the time-starved consumer. These have succeeded unlike an LG refrigerator launched almost 20 years ago, which was ahead of its time but had no reason for the in-door, waist high elevation. At the end of the day, technology must improve the experience along with the end product. The same stands true for technological applications in the F&B industry. The shifting focus of the consumer in terms of consumer lifestyle and the lens by which we live it, continues to change and brands need to keep up. The demands of time, a need for convenience and awareness (or need for transparency) of a product lifecycle is critical.
On the issue of convenience, we’re seeing more and more restaurants — both fast casual and fine dining — establish a technology interface that educates diners and offers access to the brand in new ways. In addition, delivery via apps has grown exponentially. Even in the fine dining sector – with Zomato, Swiggy and Uber-Eats, delivery services have already brought five-star cuisine to homes from various restaurants and the services continue to grow. These applications have definitely changed consumer dining experience and provide utmost customer convenience. Mobile tools allow consumers to view a restaurant’s menu anywhere and place an order, so that it’s ready when they arrive. And not just the consumers, this technology has benefitted restaurant owners too – giving them more time to prepare food and the ability to increase table turnover. Also, since most pre-order apps have online payment features, restaurant owners can sell their meals in advance. All these aspects result in better customer experience, and of course, improved business operations.
We have seen that the key to success in establishing this technology-driven convenience is ensuring that the brand experience continues at home. With regard to transparency, consumers today not only want to know where a brand’s product, ingredients, etc. are sourced from but also how the product was made, how it got there and the assurance of quality. Technology plays a vital role across the entire lifecycle of a product, and communicating it in a transparent way is critical for building brand loyalty as well as word of mouth.
The human element within the F&B industry, in a world of robotic bartenders and tablet-based wait staff, brands can’t and shouldn’t forget. Particularly at retail and in restaurants, interaction with servers has always been a critical ingredient in the recipe for success. Finding a way to include executives and employees in the adoption of technology is a key factor in making sure the excitement is passed on to the consumers. An engaged mixologist alongside the robotic bartender and a chef ensuring his freshly prepared dishes reflecting contemporary food trends, can help in making the brand and its experience stand out. Apart from this, these experts can also elevate how the brand communicates its technology, benefitting toothier fans and potential future consumers.
Technology is here to stay – it will continue to shape the industry, and how we communicate to and with customers and guests. Embracing it in a way that compliments the brand while continuing to deliver and adapt based on the final product, is how the F&B industry can take CES(Consumer Electronics Show) to a higher level.
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