Digital Transformation: Disproving Myths That Hold F&B Industry Down

Many misconceptions have been keeping F&B businesses from digitally transforming. Check out this enlightening read to separate fact from fiction.

In 2020, the internet economy of Southeast Asia exploded. All major economies in the region saw higher volumes of online transactions.

In Singapore, 3 in 4 consumers don’t intend to revert to their old shopping habits. It’s reasonable to assume that a significant number of people in neighboring countries likewise share this sentiment.

Like Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia, the Philippines recorded impressive digital commerce figures. The sales of goods and services over the internet in the archipelago rose by 376% during the first six months alone.

In response to the change in consumer behavior and in order to survive amid pandemic-induced lockdowns, more Filipino merchants, including those that used to have physical locations only, are now selling on the Web. In fact, the list of registered online businesses in the country was 40 times longer by the end of June 2020.

The notable digital economy boom in the region is definitely good news. However, it might not have expanded as rapidly if it were not for the spread of the coronavirus. In some cases, growth was due to the low base effect.

And here in the ASEAN region, there is still plenty of room for improvement.  According to the recently released 2020 Global Connectivity Index, only 1 in 6 major Southeast Asian economies was considered a frontrunner in digital transformation. In fact, 2 of them (the Philippines and Indonesia) have yet to move out of the starter category and into the adopter cluster.

Not a single factor could fully explain the relatively slow progress of digitalization in said countries. But one certain contributor to this pace has been the prevalence of misconceptions about the adoption of digital technology.

Like other industries, food and beverage (F&B) isn’t immune to such misperceptions. That’s why we’re going to debunk the most common ones today in order to help correct any erroneous beliefs you may have about data analytics and modern electronics.

Myth:  Digitalization Is for Large Brands

Digital tech isn’t free, but it doesn’t necessarily price out smaller players in the F&B industry.

If you wanted to go digital in the past, you had to buy your own hardware and software, pay an IT professional to maintain your assets, and routinely upgrade your legacy system. But with the advent of the software-as-a-service (SaaS), digital transformation no longer requires a considerable amount of capital.

SaaS is an equalizer that levels the playing field for smaller F&B operations. It can help you compete with more established brands on a somewhat equal footing and increase your agility to respond to market changes more quickly.

With this software licensing model, you can remotely access your app through a web browser, on any device anytime, anywhere. If you’re already using other digital tools, you will likely be able to integrate them with the software to move your data seamlessly.

Another upside is that you don’t have to purchase and own the app forever. You can simply subscribe to it for just a certain period. Like your Netflix subscription, you don’t have to continue each month, you cancel anytime. And you can sign up for it again at will.

Myth: Profitable Brands Can Digitally Transform More Easily

Not necessarily. Successful F&B businesses tend to keep the status quo, upholding the idea of not fixing something that isn’t broken. Even if a proposal for digital transformation is justifiable, the boss may not approve a somewhat fundamental change just to avoid rocking the boat.

Innovation is what separates consistently profitable restaurants from challengers with fleeting success. When there’s no deeply ingrained innovative culture, an organization is too complacent to cross the digital divide wholeheartedly without a serious impetus to do so.

If you’re a part of such an F&B company, having interest to find and read this article is half the battle. The other half is convincing the powers that be to embrace change.

Myth:  Going Digital Is Chaotic

It’s not uncommon for the media to describe digital transformation as disruptive. However, disruption in this context doesn’t mean chaos. Rather, it pertains to positive change.

An F&B operation ripe for digital tech disruption isn’t necessarily a business stuck in the Stone Age. But even if you use apps like Microsoft Excel, you still can’t achieve absolute productivity and efficiency. You need to eventually adopt cloud-based innovations, Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, and artificial intelligence–powered platforms to stay competitive.

Granted, digital transformation entails some level of adjustment, but the transition period won’t automatically interrupt the normal operations of your bar, coffee shop, grill, food truck, buffet, convenience store, or supermarket.

For instance, cloud technology renders the deployment of a digital inventory management system painless. Your vendor can have your account up and running in no time, and you can test the app with your current hardware.

Moreover, not all profit optimization solutions for F&B businesses have a steep learning curve. Quite the contrary, most of them are actually intuitive. Anyone who’s accustomed to using electronic devices like personal computers or smartphones can get a handle on them quickly.

Also, you wouldn’t need to have a tech savant on staff to get proper technical assistance in your time of need. Choosing a trusted vendor like Mosaic Solutions is the key to enjoying reliable support on tap.

Myth:  Digital Innovation Isn’t a Priority

It’s completely understandable that pandemic-stricken businesses don’t feel they are in the position to adopt a data analytics platform (or some other cost-effective digital innovation) during a time of austerity. But, come to think of it, the timing could be perfect.

Digitalization is one of the viable ways to adapt in the new normal and save a restaurant suffering from a financial hemorrhage. Until the government lifts strict physical distancing measures and the COVID-19 scare dies down, digital commerce is the only feasible means to begin driving pre-pandemic-like sales.

The pandemic may not end, medically or socially, soon, despite our best inoculation efforts. So whether you like it or not, digital transformation must be high on your agenda in order to adapt. Trade must go on, and only well-adapted F&B businesses get to take a slice of today’s pie.

Myth:  It’s Too Late for Laggards

As long as you have the will and a little capital, you can digitalize whenever you want to leapfrog more established non-adopters or stay ahead of the curve. But you have to do it sooner rather than later. The opportunity cost of your inaction only compounds the longer you wait.

As more F&B operations go digital, the higher consumer expectations become. At some point, failing to provide the same level of experience would be a liability to your business that could ruin your brand and hurt your revenue.

Having no presence on food delivery apps, accepting nothing but cash, and serving inconsistent food portions are just a few of the problems that can realistically shrink your coffers in this day and age.

Innovating your business digitally won’t magically solve all of your headaches. But it can address your biggest pain points. Using a cutting-edge purchasing solution, for example, can eliminate miscommunication with your suppliers, automate stock replenishment by par level, and get a single version of the truth about your expenses.

In Conclusion

No matter how much you resist and rationalize your non-adoption, you simply can’t get by for long without adopting more technology in your business.

Cloud computing, IoT devices, and predictive analytics define the future of business. You can delay your operation’s digital transformation. But you can’t halt its arrival for the rest of the F&B industry.

Do yourself a favor and stop believing any of the above myths once and for all. Otherwise, you may miss your chance to change with the times, getting behind the competition and forcing you to close up shop for good.