Parthiv Patel is the Co-Founder and CEO of Petpooja, a next-generation restaurant management platform offering state-of-the-art POS (Point of Sale) to manage restaurant billing, inventory, online orders, menu, and customers. At the company’s helm, Parthiv spearheads the strategy, product management, partner ecosystem, and finance divisions. Having a prolific academic background, Parthiv holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and MBA from IIM, Lucknow. With over 15 years of work experience, the passionate entrepreneur has been associated with prominent organizations, including Wipro Technologies and a couple of VC funds including GVFL, PremjiInvest, alongside Ecolibrium, an energy analytics startup, in senior leadership roles.
It is undeniable that there have been momentous changes and developments in the technological sector. And these developments have also influenced the F&B industry globally. Technology became the need of the hour when the pandemic hit causing a 15-20% shrinkage of the Indian F&B industry. It was then that the businesses needed something to sustain themselves in the market. This started the second-order of effect and the usage of technology such as cloud-based POS, contactless payment, third-party aggregators, Saas providers, QR modes of business and many more helped the SMBs survive.
This $56 billion worth, highly competitive small and medium-size market is also the biggest employer of these techs in India. But these businesses and their customers are always looking for a simple plug-and-play rather than complex machinery or robotics. Neither do they have the bandwidth to learn about them nor do they see any benefits from it. The reason is that the target audience of these businesses just like themselves are digital natives; so there is a need for a tech that they and their customers can use and connect with easily. And so, social media platforms and technology have become key points of interaction for both of them. Businesses are always eager to know about customer trends and collect their responses. Take online orders for example. There are at least 5-7 parameters which the user is asked to rate or review after each delivery. These touch points are from where the businesses map their market position and the value of their product/ service. The same applies to social media. There are hundreds of surveys proving the fact that digital presence creates credibility in the market. That is the reason why we are now seeing businesses overinvesting in ambience and themes, blow-up of food blogging and online review platforms such as TripAdvisor, Just Dial and others.
There is immense pressure on the F&B retail business owners to win over customer loyalty. To add to this, the customers are demanding and the operations are cumbersome. This has led to the expansion of the industry altogether. The modern restaurant owner doesn’t think the way the traditional one would. They do not wish to sit at the billing counter but would rather invest in tech and people to handle operations. They are more focused on providing exclusivity and accessibility to their customers. This has opened the market for the entry of many authentic food outlets and a high dependency on online ordering platforms like Swiggy & Zomato. Despite the low-profit margins from the latter, third-party aggregators have become a great source of interaction with customers by providing them with step-by-step updates on their orders and then finally taking feedback.
Another aspect that has been revamped by technology is the dine-ins. The idea here is to provide fast service to the customers without compromising on quality or decorum. This has expanded to the level that both customers and businesses have discarded the traditional ways of customer management. Due to social media, the customer already knows what the dine-in offers and how the food looks. What they are looking for is a ‘wow’ moment. Be it in form of ambience or service and definitely technology. They are eager to know how the ways through which they can help themselves. This includes booking tables online, scanning codes to place orders or using tablets, creating their own dishes or combos, doing online payments, collecting rewards or loyalty points, giving quick feedback or requests and much more. All of this together facilitates customer management for the businesses. The captains or waiters don’t have to run around with pen and paper but simply hand over a tablet or phone to the customer who would be eager to assist themselves. All of this information and feedback collected by the businesses is used to upgrade and grow the business further; that is CRM simplified for you. The F&B retail is always in a Catch-22 kind of situation. They are unaware of the customers’ behaviour and yet have to meet every curve ball that comes their way. This is where technology helps bridge the gap and create a smoother business experience for both customers and the owners.