The global pandemic has drastically affected the way brick-and-mortar establishments operate on a day-to-day basis, prompting restaurants and retail owners alike to look beyond the traditional and strategize to remain competitive and relevant.
The past two years have proved that the restaurant and retail industries are flexible, resilient, and always ready to reinvent themselves despite the various obstacles encountered, marking 2021 as one of its most transformational years ever.
As a new year is coming, check out the following trends that will shape the restaurant and retail industries in 2022.
1. Decreased reliance on third-party aggregators
As restaurants were initially restricting in-store dining as a safety precaution against the virus, this has prompted the sudden shift to online ordering services. Third-party companies have played a massive role in helping restaurants earn revenue despite the Covid-19 outbreak, but it does come at a cost. Delivery services such as UberEats and Doordash charge up to 30% of commission fees per order. Having their own delivery service has become a must for restaurants to save on expenses and fully own the end-to-end customer experience.
A 2021 survey conducted by Statista shows that 67% of the respondents prefer to order directly from the restaurant’s own app or website, instead of third-party delivery services. Although partnering with a delivery company can help your restaurant reach a broader customer base, it doesn’t guarantee that these clients will remain loyal to your brand. However, restaurants providing their own delivery service stay in control over their data which they can use to personalize the experience and promote highly customized offers for each customer, which isn’t an option with third-party aggregators.
2. Building emotional loyalty
Loyalty will continue to play an integral part in bringing back customers to your business. Still, the challenge remains on working out how to make them more emotionally attached to your brand. It requires connecting to customers on a much deeper level to create a real sense of belonging to your brand and identity, by fostering positive and long-term relationships that go beyond offering discounts or promo codes.
Emotionally engaged customers are also most likely to increase visit frequency, spend more each time and refer brands to their friends and family as trust is being formed. It is essential to make them feel appreciated and recognized due to their loyalty by providing them brand new experiences accessible only to a few.
By building trust, restaurants and retailers can create strong emotional ties with their members. Member-only perks should not only include monetary rewards. They should make your loyal customer feel special with tailored attention, such as getting access to a secret menu, holding passes for skipping the line or getting unlimited toppings, getting invited to exclusive dinner events or food tasting, or participating in the creation of a new menu item.
3. Evolving menus
New ideas and trends navigate fast worldwide, and food is no exception. The pandemic has contributed to the increased time spent on social media, such as TikTok, where a 2021 survey from The Verge showed that users spend an average of 52 minutes per day. This new content has exposed viewers to various new food options, from worldwide cuisines to healthy meals. It is now a winning strategy for F&B players to innovate their menu to meet consumers’ latest trends and demands.
According to Southern Living, one trend that is likely to continue into 2022 is the plant-based diet. A 2021 report by FMCG Gurus stated that nearly 60% of Americans are planning to eat more plant-based foods this coming year. Chefs could develop creative ways to incorporate plant-based items into their menus and look for alternatives to dairy ingredients, such as Potato Milk or Vegan Butter. We can definitely expect a new interest in plant-based comfort foods–Michelin Star Chef Gordon Ramsay has also hopped on this trend by creating a vegan bacon recipe on TikTok.
4. New approaches to catering
As the customers’ well-being is always crucial for F&B experiences, restaurants are forced to think outside the box with their approach when it comes to catering and health safety. In pre-pandemic times, buffet set-ups consisted of large trays of shared meals and multiple stations where guests would serve themselves. However, orders are now likely to be individually packaged, following the current guidelines from the ongoing pandemic.
Since big buffets might not be a trend for 2022, restaurants should focus on how these individually packaged meals can be creatively presented and displayed, creating a new revenue stream while prioritizing safety.
More and more F&B players may create or add a new section in their menu as a catering option for companies to choose from, such as “Work Lunch Boxes”, with customers deciding what to include in their lunch box.
5. Rise of touchless solutions
Restaurant and retail players quickly turned to touchless technology to ensure a safe and quick customer experience. We are now familiar with the contactless payment option, and a 2021 Datassential survey concluded that 87% of consumers prefer to use a contactless payment system.
Another solution widely used in food establishments focuses on contactless dining, where guests can easily view the restaurant’s menu from their mobile phones via a QR code and later complete the payment digitally. These hands-free solutions keep surfaces safe by reducing the interaction between the staff and customers. They also provide an extra level of convenience that customers started to grow accustomed to during the pandemic as well as minimizing the operation time for the staff, as they don’t need to take the order or bring the check to the table.
6. Taking advantage of same-day delivery
The demand for same-day shipping is skyrocketing as more customers find it convenient to shop in the comfort of their homes. And they are ready to pay the price: according to PwC’s global insights consumer survey, 88% of the consumers are willing to pay more for same-day delivery.
As a matter of fact, same-day delivery boosts revenue and increases customer retention. With online giants, such as Amazon, offering this service, implementing this trend into the business’s operations is becoming a key competitive factor.
The “new normal” era has impacted both the restaurant and retail industries in several ways. Yet, it opened new doors and opportunities for businesses to present innovative solutions to the challenges they faced. From restaurants slowly turning away from third-party delivery companies to retail stores providing the same-day delivery benefit, these trends will likely shape the landscape of their respective industries for 2022. On that note, it is beneficial to stay updated with the latest trends and demands to make sure that you are still ahead of the game.
From the Como team, we wish you a fruitful and prosperous year ahead!