How to Prepare your F&B Business for the Post-Pandemic World?

With the latest relaxation of Covid-19 rules, the future is finally looking brighter for the F&B industry. However, going through the pandemic over the last two years has also changed consumer behaviour and the way businesses are run.

As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong cautioned in his “Covid 19: A New Phase” speech, “…we should also be psychologically prepared for more twists and turns ahead. With more interactions, we too may see another wave of cases, and Omicron will not be the last variant we encounter.”

As Singapore embraces the endemic stage with this mindset, how can F&B businesses prepare themselves to be resilient for this new normal and “psychologically prepared” for the future?   Here are 4 ways to equip yourself.

Be Aware of the Trends

Gone are the days when restaurants can just “keep doing your own thing” and not be connected. The pandemic accelerated the rise of the digitalisation economy, when F&B businesses had to get onto online delivery platforms in a short span of time.  And it seems that food ordering and delivery platforms are here to stay. According to Oddle Eats’ 2021 performance report, F&B e-commerce should still typically account for 20%-30% of a restaurant business’ revenue when restaurants go back to normal.

The pandemic has also shaped consumer behaviour so F&B operators should be in tune with what are the latest ways to connect with consumers digitally. In 2022, look out to social commerce. *Social platforms are already providing new and innovative selling solutions, such as Instagram’s new shopping features that allow social media users to purchase items without having to leave their app. If there’s anything that Covid-19 has taught us, it’s to be ready. Get your social commerce shopfront set up.

Build Stronger Partnerships

No man is an island and this applies to businesses too. Collaborations and partnerships are the new way of businesses, as F&B businesses drive partnerships to create new ideas, experiences and products to reach out to more consumers.

Collaborations can also provide solutions. For example, when independent bubble tea shops had to shut during the Heightened Alert, online restaurant platform, Grain, promptly collaborated with KOI bubble tea chain to build a bubble tea machine in their kitchen, and offered the beverage selection with their meals. The bubble teas were sold out almost immediately.

Enlarge Your Database Strategically

For F&B businesses, customer reach is crucial. Other than a good strategic location with visibility, public relations, social media and marketing campaigns and ads, how else can you reach more customers?

The answer may be closer than you think. Look to your existing partners, especially those with ready databases you can leverage on. Explore ways of working together to tap on their network for more awareness about your offerings.

Chef’s Pantry, FairPrice Group’s B2B food solutions provider has access to over 13,000 employees across the 13 business units in the company. As a way to support their customers, they work with their F&B customers to offer special staff discounts to engage their employees, who are also potential customers.

This includes complimentary publicity via internal comms such as eDMs and their Telegram channel. Since 2021, they have offered this value-add to their customers including Conrad Hotel, Lickers Ice Cream, Mellben Seafood, Asyura Paste and Yongle dim sum manufacturer.

Says Jason Wang, director of GS Asia, “This was a very welcomed service during the pandemic, as it offers an additional platform for us to share more about our products from the Yongle brand and is additional awareness. Every bit of publicity counts.”

Alternative Sourcing – Better Prices, Consistency and Quality

Rising food costs is one thing that F&B operators need to brace themselves for. World food prices rocketed by 20.7% in Feb 2022, fuelled by the rising demand as markets starts to open up. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also disrupted global supply chains, making it a challenge to have consistent supply.

To guard against disruption in supply, choose to work with suppliers who can provide quality ingredients at competitive prices. One of the things to look out for is how wide their network is and how resourceful they are. Reputation and reliability are critical  factors to consider. As the B2B food solutions arm of FairPrice Group, Chef’s Pantry has the added advantage of having competitive pricing, thanks to the group’s volume leverage while maintaining quality standards.

For their customers, this is a clear benefit. Says Simon Ng, stall owner of Red Dot Mala Hotpot (小红点麻辣香锅), “We know that by ordering from Chef’s Pantry, we will not encounter issues which we may face from smaller distributors, such as mixing lower quality rice with our order of higher quality rice.”

When Foodngostic, a private label food manufacturer, encountered a shortage in supply of winter melon strips Chef’s Pantry stepped in to source for this through various channels to fulfil their demand quickly.

Mr Lee Thiam Hock from Seng Kee Black Herbal Chicken Soup shares, “Having a supplier who can keep to their promise and fulfil the delivery requirements is even more important during this period. We have worked with smaller suppliers who have run out of stock suddenly, and that impacts our business immediately in a negative way. Rice is such an important part of our menu so if we run out, our customers will complain immediately. It’s best to go with a company like Chef’s Pantry, which is part of FairPrice Group, so we know they have the network, support and can be relied on.”

It’s certain that the future will have many changes but there are steps you can take to ensure you are ready for the challenges. Being aware of trends, building stronger partnerships, expanding your reach and looking at alternative sourcing may seem time-consuming but it need not be, you also don’t have to do it all alone. Finding a good supplier may help you with some of the above steps to strengthen your supply chain for the post-pandemic world.

See how Chef's Pantry can add value to your F&B business.

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