Singaporeans expect more streamlined services from F&B operators as dine-in picks up

88% of Singaporeans avoided dining out during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 47% said they will dine out less following the pandemic.

Data released by Adyen, the global payments platform, revealed that diners’ habits in Singapore have permanently shifted in favour of digital-driven solutions following the COVID-19 pandemic. From take-away options to in-store dining, Singaporean consumers increasingly expect food and beverage and quick service restaurant (QSR) operators to offer technology-enabled experiences.

The 2020 Agility Report, commissioned by Adyen, found that 88% of Singaporeans avoided dining out during the pandemic. A similar trend was observed globally, with 82% of survey respondents in Asia-Pacific and Europe, and 79% in the US, keeping away from physical food and beverage establishments. Additionally, of all the Singapore respondents who have avoided visiting bars and cafes, 62% cited the lack of safety of being in close proximity with strangers as a key reason. This was ahead of Hong Kong, Australia and Europe, at 58%, 55% and 44%, respectively. Singaporeans will remain cautious moving forward, with 47% saying they will dine out less following the pandemic, compared to only 29% of respondents globally.

Warren Hayashi, president, Asia-Pacific, Adyen, commented: “Food and beverage and QSRs are focused on creating efficiencies and enhancing services to grow customer loyalty, and digitisation allows operators to focus on their core business – serving meals that keep diners coming back for more. As crowds return to dining establishments, there is an opportunity to turn pent-up demand into a more seamless, richer in-store experience.

“Food establishments that have a holistic view of their customer profiles are well-positioned to help diners explore new menu items based on past purchases – whether in store or online – and focus on re-engaging customers in person.”

Adyen’s 2020 Agility Report further revealed that 42% of Singaporeans thought restaurants “did a good job” in adapting during the pandemic. Building on this positive momentum, Adyen released four trends that food and beverage and QSR operators should offer to cater to the new demands and expectations of Singaporean consumers moving forward.

1. Cross-channel purchasing options
With the pandemic-induced dining restrictions still in effect, consumers have turned to other channels including delivery and take-away. More than half of Singaporean consumers used take-away apps such as Deliveroo, FoodPanda and GrabFood more during the pandemic than they did previously. Having been habituated by this, 43% of respondents in Singapore said that they would like restaurants to remain available on such apps when things return to normal, while 36% will still want to support restaurants by using take-away and delivery platforms despite dining out less following the pandemic.

As the world move into 2021, food merchants should consider keeping these delivery options to keep up with customer demand. Additionally, they can also consider online ordering options, as well as self pick-up.

2. Use of technology to improve the in-store experience
41% of Singaporeans would like restaurants to use technology to improve the experience. These include implementing self-service checkouts and kiosks or pay-at-table technology. While this has been a growing trend for some time, for example, the kiosks in McDonalds around Singapore, there is even more attention on this now from consumers as they seek for contactless options, as well as personalised services. In 2021, we anticipate that robotics will continue to emerge as well. Beyond robot cleaners, we are already seeing some turning to tech for services too. For example, Crown Coffee introduced its robot barista, Ella, this year.

Commenting on the trends and findings, Keith Tan, CEO and founder of Crown Group, said: “We understand the importance of unifying the many different consumer touchpoints to better meet their needs and provide added convenience. In the digital economy, this means harnessing technology to offer the right app for an increasingly mobile society in order to enhance consumer stickiness. For example, the Crown Coffee mobile app has enabled experiences such as pre-order and delivery, contributing to the overall seamlessness of the consumer journey.

“85% of our customers top up money directly in the in-app wallet and in turn, we reward them by offering promotions and loyalty points through the app. This virtuous cycle creates a win-win situation for all and is what ultimately drives loyalty.”

Our advice to food and beverage and QSR retailers is to prioritise looking at how they can use technology to improve their services – from payments to cleaning, as well as food and beverage handling – and to plan for budgeting accordingly. If done correctly, there will be return on investment.

3. Roll-out of subscription services
Traditionally more associated with health and weight-loss meals, consumers in Singapore are starting to appreciate subscription services. The 2020 Agility Report found that 38% of respondents signalled their interest in using these for products, including food, to reduce the number of times they need to shop. As Singaporeans are looking for more convenient meal options, providers can consider offering this service.

4. Improve customer loyalty programmes
The food and beverage space was highly competitive in Singapore during the circuit breaker period, and now as restaurants are opening again, they need to woo back the diner. Most Singaporeans said that food and hospitality businesses need to improve the ways they reward consumers for shopping with them.

To help with this, we recommend that food and beverage and QSR players move away from loyalty cards, as these are often perceived to be frustrating by consumers as they fill up wallets. Instead, they should consider offering apps that provide bonuses or rewards, as well as connecting loyalty schemes to the customers payment card so updates are done automatically, with no trouble to the diner.

Josh Bell, principal at Guzman y Gomez Singapore, concluded: “Consumer behaviours have undoubtedly changed as we’ve seen a massive shift in more people embracing technology and digital channels. For example, with little to no choice, consumers jumped on food delivery options to continue ‘eating out’, as Singaporeans have always been known to be foodies. Whist some consumers, mainly millennials, have been on this delivery bandwagon pre-pandemic, we saw a huge rise in new consumers too, including the elderly.

“I think everyone has been very pleasantly surprised with how convenient, easy, trustworthy, hygienic and safe it is. Delivery options will certainly be here to stay, but may be scaled down and transformed, moving away from what was offered during circuit breaker. A trend I predict for 2021 and beyond is a rise in cloud and dark kitchens, as well as various online-only delivery channels.”


This article is provided by Adyen.