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Restaurant association to build its own digital platform

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on May 08, 2020 Published on May 08, 2020

Over 1,000 restaurants across the country are gearing up to offer ‘contactless dining’ post the lockdown istock/torwai torwai

Aim is not to take on delivery services but to create viable alternative for our members, says a committee member

The food and beverage industry body, the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), is set to build its own digital platform to level the playing field with food delivery services such as Zomato and Swiggy.

The Association hosted its first-ever TownHall to address the concerns of restaurateurs about the future of their businesses in a post-Covid-19 scenario. The TownHall was live-streamed on Facebook

In a first, the food and beverage industry is coming together to develop and identify alternative digital platforms that will level the playing field between restaurants and food delivery platforms.

Though most restaurants are associated with food-tech aggregators such as Swiggy and Zomato, they have clashed with the delivery platforms.

‘Digital landlords’

“Aggregators have become digital landlords. While they came in to solve a genuine problem, their one-sided policies are destroying the business, especially small restaurants. The industry is working together to create an alternate technology solution to reorient and sustain their businesses in the post-Covid-19 world,” Thomas Fenn, NRAI Managing Committee Member, said.

Last year, too, NRAI had led the “logout movement” to combat deep discounting, predatory pricing, and commissions, among other issues.

The NRAI President and CEO & Executive Director of deGustibus Hospitality Pvt Ltd, Anurag Katriar, said “Let me reiterate that our current efforts are simply aimed at creating more viable alternatives for our members and is not aimed at being rivals to other aggregators or their current programmes. These are our humble efforts as a responsible industry body to address the big concerns of the larger food service fraternity and work towards their long-term well-being.”

The Rs 4.25-lakh crore food and beverage industry, which employs more than 70 lakh people, directly or indirectly, is one of the worst-hit sectors.

The NRAI , which represents more than 5 lakh restaurants, is focussing on easy reconciliation, transparent pricing, cheaper delivery and protection of customer data. “The solution will be driven by customer loyalty, omni channel online sales, integrated payment gateways and digitised delivery logistics. They are even exploring leveraging social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram to reach out to customers. The NRAI has also launched a Rise For Restaurants (R4R) programme for customers, to support their favourite restaurants that will help them pay employees, retain staff and help them tide over this lockdown.” Fenn said.

The objective is to envision and create a seamless 'digital dining' experience that will make customers feel safe while trying to preserve the warmth and emotion of dining out. The NRAI is counting on Government support to come through the crisis.

NRAI also plans to introduce a loyalty programme. Katriar said “Members of NRAI collectively own and operate some of the most popular restaurants and bars across the country. We can create the most comprehensive and attractive loyalty programme with some of the best names in the business coming together on a single loyalty programme across the nation. We reckon that there cannot be a better programme than this in our trade. Once again, this will be by the industry and for the industry.

NRAI has tied up with one of the largest players in this sphere and has already drawn out our blueprint and work is going on at a good pace. We will be in a position to launch this in a few months, Katriar said.

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Published on May 08, 2020
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