Innovation and Technology - Pillars for Growth of Food Tech Industry

By Saurabh Kochhar, Co-Founder & CEO, Foodpanda

Food Tech: Moving towards profitability
Food tech segment has seen a rapid growth; online platforms and boom in e-commerce made everything, information readily available anywhere and anytime. The trend of online shopping that we earlier saw for books, fashion, furniture and electronics has now caught up with food delivery and aggregation business. The online food tech segment has seen a boom in last few years with many online players coming up with different and fresh business ideas and technologies in food listing, food aggregation as well as food delivery segment. While the industry has questioned the future of food tech in India and called it a bubble that is about to burst, I personally feel otherwise.

According to a Bloomberg report, more than 400 food delivery apps cropped up in India in the past three years, raising approximately 120 billion USD. Many companies simultaneously mushroomed and introduced innovative services and processes to bring restaurant discovery and delivery online. The industry has seen it all; from small and big players competing and eating into each other’s share of pie, launching new innovative services for consumers to funds drying out, devaluation and companies scaling and shutting down operations. 

Shake ups vs Consolidation – Part of the Inevitable Process
It is evident that recent past has been quite challenging for the food tech segment. Going by the statistics of the past 3-4 years and comparing it with the international markets, India definitely is a competitive market for food tech startups and offers a huge opportunity in scaling the businesses.  Every new age industry/ segment is riddled with a lot of unique operational and goes through four initial phases. Torch bearing is the first stage where a company leads and paves the path in a certain segment. Going forward, every industry experiences the mushrooming of many players – small and big, come up with unique strategies and ideas. This is an experimenting stage where few are successful and few wind up, and it is after which, there is a shakeout phase; something that we are witnessing now in the food tech industry. Downsizing, devaluations and closures tend to happen during this phase, while it is a necessary phase to restructure and organize the industry. Consolidation of businesses is inevitable and the industry will stabilize in the near future. The industry should soon stabilize and the one, who sustain the ups and downs, will witness spectacular growth and progress.

Mantra to Succeed and Sustain: Innovation, Technology and Automation
To be able to sustain through all these phases, it is important to pre-empt the situation and decide on the course of action accordingly. The mantra is to be in the race & examine/stabilize operations as well as processes while picking up the right opportunities to grow and achieve profitability. However, while focusing in innovation and new technologies, what is much needed is keeping customer experience as core. The last mile is the key component of keeping the customers satisfied and happy. We need to bring in new concepts and engagement options to ensure stickiness among the customer base.

Technology – Developing end to end Solutions in Processes and Management for Reliability and Seamless Operations
Technological innovation is going to play a key role in the growth of the food sector, therefore multiple tech solutions are introduced for better management of food discovery, order processing and for making the delivery experience better and seamless. Technology provides significant cost and efficiency improvements for restaurant partners. To be able to bring in profitability, it is important to focus on building scalable revenues and capabilities with a long-term goal and evolve extremely quickly on the technology side to leverage efficiencies internally. Thus, it is important to focus on devising multiple tech solutions for better management of food discovery, order processing and timely and seamless food delivery. 

Automation – Removing Errors and Bringing Efficiencies
To achieve profitability at order level, it is important to switch to automated processes to make it seamless, errorless and a fast process. The implementation of robotics and automation in the food sector offers great potential for improved safety, quality and profitability by optimizing process monitoring and control. Restaurant management application allows order automation, synchronization of opening hours as well as menu item configuration. But with challenge comes opportunities, and thus we must will look for solutions that will keep the customer experience at the core and continue to innovate further on the technological front to ensure we offer a smooth and seamless ordering experience to customers. The future of this industry is absolutely promising. It is now a wait and watch for all; to see how, and how well the industry shapes up. 

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