Intelligent Solutions Help Food and Beverage Companies Pivot to Digital
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Intelligent Solutions Help Food and Beverage Companies Pivot to Digital

Sarah Hoodspith, Owner of CARONE Wines + Spirits, and Director, Zenergy Communications
Sarah Hoodspith, Owner of CARONE Wines + Spirits, and Director, Zenergy Communications

Sarah Hoodspith, Owner of CARONE Wines + Spirits, and Director, Zenergy Communications

The entire food and beverage industry experienced a transformational twelve months starting in March of 2020. From supply chain issues to strained delivery platforms to different expectations from both consumers and employees, every aspect of business has been challenged.In essence, the future hasbeen thrust upon the industry, forcing businesses to either quickly adapt and evolve tomeet the new reality or face being left behind.

For bars and restaurants, this has largely meant having to pivot to e-commerce in rapid fashion. Those with an established digital presence have benefited from putting new consumer behaviors and expectations top of mind to keep customers engaged. However, many have struggled tosuccessfully implement a digital-centric strategy andstreamline and modernize operations to be nimbler at responding to change.

The food and beverage industry encompasses a broad range of distinct subsectors. Despite the diversity, most executives understand the need for change, citing improved operational efficiency (40%), time to market (36%), and customer experience (35%) as the top benefits of digital transformation (CorporateLeaders&PTC).However, nearly half of executives (45%) don’t think their company has the right technology to implement a digital transformation (PricewaterhouseCoopers).

“A top question we hear from CEOs is how they can drive a successful digital transformation and become an Intelligent Enterprise when transitioning to an e-commerce model, providing new customer-facing solutions, upgrading an ERP system, and deciding which of their key business initiatives to prioritize, all sounds like such a complicated, expensive, and time-consuming endeavor,” says Keith Hontz, CEO & President at Savantis, adding,“An Intelligent Enterprise is one that responds to change with agility and confidence.”

It is true that as much as 70% of digital transformation strategies fail (Mckinsey). According to a survey conducted among retailers, the biggest challenge overall is the complexity of the implementation, with more than three quarters (76%) rating it as somewhat challenging or highly challenging (Fujitsu).

“It is a common misconception that businesses need to spend a fortune and years of effort on a new back-office system and completely overhaul their IT infrastructure,” says Hontz. “In most cases, rather than replace the current ERP system, we are able to delivercloud-based solutions which can be implemented in weeks, not months or years, and which are fully integrated with the existing technology and industry-specific business processes andcan be built upon over time to suit the needs of the company,” he says. In this way, businesses can rapidly implement a basic digital platform for integrated e-commerce and add additional digital capabilities and mobile apps as required. Thiscreates a more agile business model that allows the company to adapt and scale as it grows.

As consumers shift to more food and beverage spending online, businesses that fail to create seamless omnichannel buying experiences may lose a big chunk of their revenue to competitors. E-commerce now accounts for roughly 11% of all retail sales in the U.S., according to the Department of Commerce, and is growing at around 13% annually. In food and beverage, retailers have joined the digital trend through delivery providers like Amazon Fresh, Instacart, and Shipt, with many restaurants leveraging on-demand food delivery apps such as DoorDash, GrubHub, Uber Eats, and more.

Restaurants were forced to pivot to curbside pickup and delivery options as a result of COVID-19 just to stay afloat. Now, as things return to ‘normalcy’, customers have come to expect these service offerings as standard. Restaurants that embrace digital offerings, such as frictionless online or mobile ordering and payment, or digital loyalty programs, will see an increase in engagement with customers.

To accommodate these trends, food and beverage companies must invest in cloud-based technologies andintelligent systems, which Forrester predicts will drive 70% of customer engagements by 2022. Designed specifically for restaurants, retailers, cinemas, and entertainment venues, Intelligent Entertainment Suite (IES) by Savantis is an omnichannel, cloud-based solution built on SAP® Commerce and Marketing, that enables businesses to modernize both their consumer-facing and back-office operations, optimize internal processes, create seamless cross-channel capabilities, and deliver engaging customer experiences. IES can be easily scaled up or down for rapid expansion or seasonal shifts in demand and requires considerably less maintenance compared to on-premises server-based systems. Furthermore, IES can be integrated into existing software systems for seamless end-to-end functionality and has a lower total cost of ownership.

The IES suite features more than 25 embedded cloud-based accelerators which enable rapid implementation, leading to overall digital transformation project cost and time savings, meaning there is almost no downtime for the business. Additional benefits include gaining a 360-degree view of the customer journey across multiple touch points in real-time, providing instant insight across business operations, accelerating data-driven innovation and process automation, as well as driving organizational change improvements in productivity by unlocking new levels of efficiency and reducing reporting errors.

In an increasingly digital world, no business can remain stagnant. They must adopt a mindset of continuous innovation to their business models, product and service offerings, and most importantly, their customer experience delivered. The food and beverage industry is no exception and restaurants must stay agile to ensure long-term success. Intelligent digital transformation solutions that enable full, omnichannel integration across all platforms will be important for businesses to streamline operations and enhance efficiency while reducing costs and building resiliency.

“A digital platform with fully integrated e-commerce and mobile apps, such as contactless ordering, promotions and loyalty management, offers forward-thinking food and beverage companies multiple ways to engage customers and build brand loyalty, along with the flexibility and scalability needed to future proof their business with confidence,” concludes Hontz.

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