What’s cooking up in the restaurant and takeaway industry in 2019?
I was barely through the door before a salesman was eagerly talking my ear off about apps and ordering systems that integrate with restaurant websites – it was a great pitch, too. I was sold. Why wouldn’t I want to bypass the likes of Just Eat and UberEats, and claim more of my hard earned cash for myself?
As the conversation ended, and I began to wander through the expo, there was a very obvious buzz in the air – suppliers, service providers, app builders, and innovators, all looking to become the dominant dish in this mad Restaurant and Takeaway Innovation spread.
It wasn’t a case of simply following my nose, though. I went with the intention of finding out what the future of the restaurant industry looked like. And that’s exactly what I did.
I met with plenty of passionate business owners, and talked to them about their products – all of which have the potential to take the gastronomy world by storm. And I also listened in on seminars from the likes of marketer and restaurateur Loui Blake, and the Marketing Director of Just Eat, Matt Bushby.
So what were my key… erm… takeaways from the Restaurant and Takeaway Innovation Expo, and what should you be keeping tabs on in this crazy, fast-paced, competitive, fun, and ultimately thrilling industry? Let’s find out.
Restaurant branding – why is it so important?
These days, one of the biggest problems faced by restaurant owners is knowing how to build a restaurant brand that connects with its audience. To successfully market your restaurant, you need to have a clear identity and a clear message that you want to convey to your consumers.
“Brand is everything,” were Matt Bushby, Just Eat’s Marketing Director’s exact words. And he’s not just talking about a logo and a typeface. Your brand is your touchpoint. It’s your service standard and your food quality, as much as it is your online voice and customer service ethics.
He went on to say that the way in which you deal with online complaints and enquiries can have a huge impact on how potential customers perceive your brand.
In essence, replying to those complaints and grumbles gives you more credibility than not.
Building a brand is also about meeting the needs of modern day consumers. Convenience is key. So providing a service that delivers faster, further afield, and at a lower price range than competitors, is one step on the road to success.
And when you do partner with ordering and delivery companies, how do you ensure that your brand remains a separate entity? Matt’s answer – ensure you have both a digital brand and a high street brand.
Digital marketing for restaurants – how do I do it?
1. Create long form content to get your money’s worth
First off, what’s long form content? Long form content is a video or a podcast that can be split into shorter form content.
Be it quotes, stills, or graphics, if you create a video at the start of the month, you’ll have heaps of material that you can snip and share with your audience for no extra cost.
2. Tap into what your consumers care about
Loui used his own restaurant to explain this point. Vegan food is the fastest growing cuisine right now. And that’s great, but how do you, as the owner of a vegan restaurant, get non-vegans to visit it, too? You use digital marketing to tap into what your consumers care about – you don’t shove veganism down their throats.
Loui discovered that his audience cared a lot about health. So instead of creating a video that promoted a meat-free diet, he created a video that promoted a healthy diet – vegan food taking up a large proportion of the content. This made his brand much more accessible.
3. How to promote your restaurant on Instagram
According to Avocado Social, there are currently 24 million Instagram users in the UK – that’s a huge market to take advantage of. And using Instagram Stories can be one of the most effective ways to do this. Best of all, you can do this at no extra cost to you. How? By getting your staff involved, too.
You could get them talking about the 100% recyclable packaging you use, the organic suppliers you’re partnered with, or perhaps an event that you’re planning. Just make sure that you’re posting around 5-8 times a day to keep your audience engaged.
The future of the restaurant industry – how does it look?
Not surprisingly, the future of the restaurant industry is convenience. More specifically, apps that empower people to make smarter restaurant and takeaway orders in the quickest possible time.
While I was walking around the expo, I got chatting to two forward-thinking app-owners who are building excellent examples of futuristic food businesses…
Anthony Cole is Managing Director of restaurant match-making app, Get Tasty. It’s yet to be released onto the app market, but let’s see what it’s all about.
Anthony describes his creation as a “dating app for the restaurant industry.” It takes the hassle out of finding the perfect place to eat by match-making you with restaurants that meet your needs on the day.
Unlike TripAdvisor, where people rely on top ten lists, star ratings, and reviews, Get Tasty takes things to a more granular level.
Most notable is its ability to provide restaurant recommendations based on dietary requirements. Whether your diet is plant-based, gluten-free, dairy-free, or simply low-fat, Get Tasty should come up with the goods.
You can search for restaurants with the best kids menus, restaurants that allow dogs, pubs that show the football; you can even search for restaurants on a dish-by-dish basis. Fancy a steak? See how people rate individual menu items in your area.
And if there’s something that isn’t quite right with your meal, you can send a message straight to the restaurant manager.
MunchBot is an app that works for restaurant businesses as much as it does consumers. In fact, the team behind MunchBot believe that the majority of consumers will be using chatbots to order food in as little as five years. So how does MunchBot work?
MunchBot uses the Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp functionality to automate the ordering process, while giving consumers the freedom to create orders just as they would if they were using Just Eat and UberEats.
For the consumer, MunchBot is a convenient tool that allows them to order food without the need to download an app. There’s no registration, they can check real-time order status, and because the app is synced up to Facebook, it can even make personal recommendations based on your recent activity.
For restaurants, MunchBot could become an essential marketing tool. Through push notifications and advertising, MunchBot is a convenient way to promote your brand, and you can even use it to notify customers of any deals. In fact, the team behind MunchBot predict that restaurants will benefit from:
- Three times more orders
- Fast expansion of customer database
- Higher customer satisfaction
The rise of the electric delivery vehicle – should you invest?
The future of the restaurant industry isn’t just digital. With the introduction of London’s ULEZ (ultra-low emission zone), and more cities following suit, food delivery companies are having to find ways to avoid hefty tax bills and charges.
While I was at the Restaurant and Takeaway Expo, I had a chat with one of the UK’s biggest food delivery companies, Just Eat, to see how they’re taking the lead when it comes to meeting the eco-demands of the food delivery world.
Tracy Bagnall, Senior Partnerships Manager at Just Eat, spoke to me about their partnership with electric scooter brand, Eskuta. She said the partnership began in April 2017, and since then Just Eat has been able to supply restaurant and takeaway partners with subsidised electric scooters and e-bikes.
According to the official press release, the latest addition to the Eskuta range has a “top speed of 30mph and a range of 60 miles”. This enables restaurant and takeaway businesses to widen their delivery range and stay ahead of the competition.
But it’s Eskuta’s electric bike that is really taking the delivery world by storm, with “more than 200 of the Just Eat electric bikes […] bought by takeaways across the country.”
The electric bikes have a max speed of 15mph, and a 50-mile range. But there’s more to it than that. Eskuta’s electric bikes are exempt from insurance and road tax, making them incredibly cost-efficient.
It seems like Just Eat’s partnership with Eskuta will continue to go from strength to strength as the demand for energy and cost-efficient delivery vehicles increases. Of the matter, Ian O’Connor, Managing Director of Eskuta, said:
“We are really excited to have launched the new scooter and to continue our work with Just Eat, as they encourage their restaurant partners to find alternative sustainable delivery options.”
The temperature of the EPOS market
If there was one thing to be certain of as I walked around the hall, it was the sheer number of electronic point of sale (EPOS) suppliers that are in competition with each other. A recent study by PlanRadar found that “the number of hosting and food services facilities has grown nearly 20% in the last five years,” meaning there’s plenty of pie to be had – if you have the USP to claim it.
I wanted to find out what EPOS providers have been up to to ensure their product stands apart from the competition. So I did a little tour of the expo and spoke to a couple of eager-looking sales people to get the latest news.
First stop, TouchBistro. Yes, I’ll admit that they got my attention by offering me a free cappuccino at 10.30 in the morning – but that’s already a great start to their sales pitch.
They were very keen for me to learn about their recent partnership with Barclaycard, which “will drive efficiency and reduce human errors associated with the bill-paying process.” With Barclaycard processing nearly half the UK’s credit and debit card transactions, I can see why this is such a massive step forward for the point of sale provider.
Second stop, Lightspeed. Although Lightspeed didn’t have any up and coming partnerships to tell me about, they were keen to emphasise that they work alongside the customer to build them a point of sale package that is tailored to the unique needs of their business. Add to the mix a sophisticated employee management system, and you have a great product built for the demands of the hospitality industry.
If you’re still pondering over which POS provider to go with, you can always use Expert Market’s quote-finding service to find out. Simply spend a minute answering a few simple questions, then we’ll send over the best POS providers for your needs – they’ll soon be in touch with prices and more information.
The Restaurant and Takeaway Innovation Expo – a roundup
As I left the expo to get the DLR back into central London, I came away with plenty of food for thought:
- Firstly, the restaurant and takeaway world is always evolving. Never stand still. Always keep up with the latest trends, whether it be investing in a digital marketing strategy, or an eco-friendly scooter.
- Secondly, there is fierce competition, and not just between point of sale providers. There are hundreds of businesses looking to jump on the hospitality bandwagon, so whatever your business is, make sure your product has a great USP.
- Thirdly, make your voice heard. Attending events like the Restaurant and Takeaway Innovation Expo is a great way to get your product out there. There were thousands of eager business owners checking out the latest technology and food and drink products. You never know what exciting deals and partnerships you could make.