How can F&B businesses leverage Data Analytics for better business operations? We speak to Dr. Koh Wee Lit, CEO of Habitat Blue and founder of Orca.

By Matthew Fam

Data Analytics might seem like cutting-edge technology. In fact, it’s been around longer than you’d assume.

Just think of loyalty program cards or written feedback forms: F&B businesses collect demographics of members, and match them with sales figures to predict consumer tastes. Consider that low-tech Data Analytics. Not so intimidating anymore, right?

And with Data Analytics made increasingly accessible, industries ranging from retail to energy are hopping on the Tech bandwagon. Among its many benefits, driving growth & cost efficiency, and helping decision-making processes.

F&B businesses get in on the fun too. But how can they tune into digital disruption and harness Data effectively? We speak to Dr. Koh Wee Lit, CEO of Habitat Blue and founder of Orca.

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Dr. Koh Wee Lit, CEO of Habitat Blue and founder of Orca.

Orca, an app from Habitat Blue, is an end-to-end software managing a range of business functions like supply chain management, front-of-house, order collection, and order taking. This information is displayed on a single, intuitive interface.

“Orcas (killer whales) communicate wirelessly over long distances to get tasks done, and each of them has a specialised role within the pack. Similarly, the app is designed for specialised roles within an F&B business,” he explains.

“It provides enough information for roles in the business to be performed effectively without information overload. For example, there would be less miscommunication between the front and back-of-house, so restaurants run in an orderly and productive fashion.”

Some of its clients include F&B chains like Johnny Rockets and Boulevard Pizzeria.

So how can F&B businesses use Data more effectively?

Need a quick summary of pointers? Then remember these five:

1.Have a clear idea on what you want to optimise

You’re not alone if you think Data Analytics is intimidating. To start off, zero-in on one or two factors.

“New F&B businesses with little prior operational experience should have an idea of what they want to optimise,” Dr. Koh recommends.

Koh suggests optimising your menu first as a direct means of improving your business’ top line (gross sales or revenue).

2. Remove your bottom five menu items

More isn’t always better.

With each additional item on the menu, you spend more on unique ingredients and face hire challenges within your kitchen too. That’s why — although counterintuitive — you should remove your bottom five menu items.

“Some businesses are afraid to do that because they want to provide a wide range of options to customers. So, we show them examples of menus by other establishments. Some of them only have 10 items on their menu but are still doing well,” says Dr. Koh.

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3. Introduce new items as a limited offer first

The trick with Data is to conduct experiments, and use their results as a barometer of consumer tastes. This better informs your future strategies.

According to Dr. Koh, “some businesses run promotions every month where they offer new items for a limited time only — that’s okay. It gauges if an item would sell well, without a long-term commitment to sale.”

Look no further than the fast food chain with the golden arches — McDonalds. “They put up their limited-edition burgers and run it for a couple of months. I recommend this approach to businesses.”

4. Study correlation between your new item and overall menu sales

Be careful not to read sales figures at face value. Instead, use Data to dive deeper into multiple sales trends and tease out correlations.

“Sometimes, a new item rakes in good sales, but causes a dip in your main menu items. That’s not good. On the other hand, your promotional item might not take off very well, but could still boost your main offerings.”

What you’re looking for is a new item boosting overall sales.

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F&B businesses use Orca for their kitchen operations.

5. Weave it into your work culture

Data and Tech should not be reserved for niche departments within your organisation. Instead, it needs to be implemented at all levels of from the front-of-house to your supply chain.

This ensures it’s all-hands-on-deck in alerting management on sales trends or flagging out concerns.

But doing so doesn’t mean revamping entire work processes, says Dr. Koh.

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Orca gives you an overview of outstanding orders and tables served.

“With Orca, we don’t just improve your business’ cost efficiency. We also improve your business management.

When we visit traditional restaurants who are usually the most resistant to digital disruption, we first understand their way of working. Then, we program that familiarity of style in the way our app or program runs.

In traditional Chinese restaurants, some head chefs prefer to do the scheduling of orders themselves — that’s fine. They still embrace the app’s digital record of sales and orders, so front-of-house no longer has to run around finding order sheets.”

An overview of Orca’s functions

At Orca, everything is modular

At this point, some of you might be thinking, ‘What else would prevent businesses from taking on Data Analytics?’

“One of the first barriers is the price,” says Dr. Koh. “If it costs an arm to adopt technology, businesses won’t do it.”

To counter this, Orca provides modular services. This means clients can take up Data in stages and don’t have to jump into the deep end of Tech.

“They can simply take up the minimum requirements and get a taste of what it means to run your own business from Data. Our basic hardware costs less than S$2,000. The monthly subscription is S$120.”

So what are you waiting for? Take charge today, and get ready to digitally transform your business!

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