Innovation: FoodTech industry's DNA

Saurabh Kochhar, CEO & Co-Founder, Foodpanda IndiaWith four years of working experience with big corporates like McKinsey & Co and Oracle India, Saurabh has garnered sound professional grounding and business acumen

Today’s on-demand economy has disrupted businesses across industries and the Indian food plate is no exception. In the past few years the Indian food industry has seen a lot of action with technology permeating across processes, transforming how food is produced, sourced, delivered, and consumed, making way for new business avenues and growth opportunities. Rising disposable incomes, increasing priority for convenience, tech-savvy millennial demographics, and the filip provided by the internet and mobile revolution are just few of the many reasons that have propelled the demand for foodtech in India.

The Indian food tech industry is beginning to flourish with the Food Services market (organized and unorganized) reaching an estimated INR 3,37,500 crore in 2017 to reach INR 5, 52,000 crore by 2022 growing at CAGR of 10%. (Source: Technopak-FICCI report 2017). However there exist certain impediments to the growth of the industry, impacting profitable growth of business operations. Policy developments, licensing requirements, perishability, industry fragmentation and problems with training and retaining staff are issues that have traditionally plagued the food industry. And there are limitations to what technology can offer in this context.

However where technology and the related innovations can actually make a mark is bringing together the best of speed, accuracy and delivery. Technological innovation can be a game changer driving sustainable growth for the industry on the back of basic catalysts Mobile devices and Internet. Consumers are now closer to their favourite meal with digitized experiences, customization and convenience, with just a few taps and swipes. With such disruptive forces playing up in the food tech space,
successful companies are the ones that are not just driving sustainable growth through technology but also delivering on fulfilling these customer expectations while keeping operational costs in check.

As the customer purchase cycle for food evolves in India, businesses in the space will need to look at factors that influence their decisions and overall service experience with leveraging technology to build optimal solutions to these challenges

As the customer purchase cycle for food evolves in India, businesses in the space will need to look at factors that influence their decisions quality of food, delivery time, recommendations, ease and accuracy of order and overall service experience and leverage technology to build optimal solutions to these challenges. Technology must be used to optimize traditional solutions, by streamlining and managing operations, utilize resources more efficiently and improve communications. Employing data and analytics to identify new techniques of customer satisfaction is one such avenue that is yet to be exploited to its fullest. Gathering, analyzing and implementing customer data opens a world of opportunities and is the key to unlocking success for the next generation of food delivery service. Brands can leverage it to understand their customers better to offer personalized recommendations based on their habits and preferences from his or her profile. Using data such as food preparation time, delivery location, GPS, and real-time traffic updates to help dispatch drivers, find the most efficient route, and reducing average wait time for customers can help business build a competitive advantage and stay top of mind. The power of data can go a long way in offering unique and customized experiences and a massive potential to increase efficiency. Not just better customer experiences, big data and predictive analytics can even help businesses in expansion, by estimating the profitability of a potential launch or adding a delivery zone. These are just few of the possibilities of how data can transform the future of food, and missing out on the data opportunity means missing the opportunity to offer customer centric experiences and ROI for your business. By harnessing the power of technology across departments and using innovation to tap into customer megatrends, we can drive solutions to some of the tough challenges that exist today.

Even though machine learning engines and big data are at a nascent stage for the food business, as scale and adoption are still a challenge, it is imperative for brands to bet big on these tech solutions. As the space evolves, more tech advances such as artificial intelligence, wearables and augmented reality are expected to make their way to the mainstream food service business. We have only witnessed the beginning of a massive transformation across the entire food making and food delivery industry and bigger transformation is still underway. It won’t be long before on demand food delivery will be executed by, well,a robot. We will just have to wait and find out how and when consumers will embrace these advances.