Online takeaway market breakthrough 300 billion Internet + catering reshape people’s table

  Do you want to understand the changes brought by the Internet to the Chinese restaurant industry? The most intuitive way is to go to the streets of major cities and see the takeaway "knights" flying everywhere. Every dish they deliver, every route they drive, and even the pricing of every logistics cost is supported by Internet information technology such as big data and cloud computing. In recent years, "Internet + catering" has flourished and brought profound changes to the Chinese table.

  The catering industry is fully "touching the net"

  For many urban white-collar workers, the first thing they do after work in the morning is to open the takeaway software on their mobile phones to see if there is any food takeout that suits their appetite, and then place an order, pay, and wait for delivery… Nowadays, takeout not only penetrates into office buildings, student dormitories, and residential areas, but even on high-speed rail, they can open a mobile app or scan a QR code to book takeout in advance.

  The changing scenes of daily life reflect the transformation of the Chinese catering industry. From the past of single-store marketing, paper menu ordering, and cash checkout, to the current prevalence of takeaway platforms, massive menu options, and online payment of meals, the Internet has realized a deep integration with the traditional catering industry.

  Data show that in 2017, the national catering industry revenue 3.9644 trillion yuan, an increase of 10.7%. From January to April this year, the national catering turnover reached 1.2736 trillion yuan, an increase of 10.1% year-on-year, and continued to maintain double-digit growth. This means that China’s catering industry has been in a state of stable and high growth.

  What are the intrinsic factors for achieving growth? The catering industry has been fully "connected to the Internet". With the in-depth application of Internet technology in the catering industry, the online catering industry has become the third regular dining mode for consumers other than "cooking by themselves" and "going to the restaurant". Statistics show that the size of the online takeaway market exceeded 300 billion yuan in 2017, an increase of 13.6 times compared with 20.37 billion yuan in 2011.

  Changes in the food and beverage market go hand in hand with changes in people’s food and beverage consumption habits. It is reported that in online takeout, the order transaction volume in residential areas accounts for about 50%. This means that many people have chosen to use takeout instead of "cooking at home". A report released by the China Business Industry Research Institute confirms this change. The report shows that the user scale of China’s Internet food and beverage takeaway market has reached 320 million in 2017, and the user scale is expected to reach 360 million in 2018. Internet catering is drastically changing users’ food and beverage consumption habits.

  "With the development of information technology and its continuous integration with catering companies, some catering companies have begun to shift to cross-border operations, and takeaway is a driving force. This not only brings greater business opportunities for catering companies, but also brings different catering consumption experiences to consumers," said Jiang Junxian, president of the China Cuisine Association.

  "Unmanned Restaurant" is accelerating

  In fact, "Internet + catering" is no longer as simple as delivering food. Recently, the opening of a "smart restaurant" in Qingdao has attracted the attention of local citizens. Customers can order food simply by scanning the code at the office or using the "smart restaurant" mobile app. The system also uses big data technology to recommend customers’ favorite foods. About 10 minutes after placing an order, customers will receive a text message with the cabinet number and the pick-up code to pick up the meal at the password cabinet.

  "It only takes ten minutes for customers to walk from the office to the password cabinet, and then they can take out their own dishes and eat. The middle links such as ordering food at the store and waiting for food at the store are completely removed," the person in charge of the restaurant said.

  Bai Xiufeng, dean of Meituan School of Catering, believes that online catering is already the trend and continues to deepen. "The typical consumer experience is to order and eat in advance, no need to queue up at the store, order food, no need to queue up to pay and issue invoices, etc. All aspects of dining are completed online," Bai Xiufeng said.

  A step further than the "smart restaurant" is the "robot restaurant" or "unmanned restaurant" that has appeared all over the country. As early as October 2017, Alibaba’s first "unmanned restaurant" opened in Hangzhou. The highlight of the restaurant is the "face-to-face payment", which does not require mobile phones and wallets, nor cashiers and waiters, and intelligently orders food and leaves after eating. In February this year, Alibaba’s robot restaurant "Hema" Nanxiang Store in Shanghai opened. In this restaurant covering an area of more than 7,000 square meters, customers need to use the Hema app to choose a seat in front of the screen at the entrance of the restaurant. After taking a seat, they order food by scanning the desktop QR code, and the delivery robot will deliver the food to the table. The cooking progress and delivery process can be monitored in real time through the screen in front of the table.

  Coincidentally, also announced on May 29 that its robot restaurant will be launched in August. The restaurant can be unmanned through robots to order, cook, and deliver dishes. The all-round robot chef can serve more than 40 dishes from eight major cuisines.

  Industry insiders say that such restaurants will be available in major cities across the country in the next few years. Although it is not realistic to fully realize "unmanned", the realization of some functions is not out of reach. For example, the development of intelligence systems to replace ordering staff and cashiers; the use of welcome robots, service robots, intelligent cooking machines to carry out various operations; the use of face-swiping payment.

  Personality diversity becomes a major trend

  Nowadays, "Internet +" has been fully penetrated and deeply expanded in the food and beverage industry chain in terms of food procurement, system management, online and offline marketing, transactions, reservations, ordering, queuing, payment, comments, etc. In the context that mobile payment has become the mainstream payment method in the catering industry, and otaku men and otaku women have become important customers, how will the future catering industry change?

  The report released by the China Cuisine Association shows that the demand for catering consumption is developing towards diversification. For practitioners, the increasing trend of personalization and segmentation, as well as the trend of multi-format differentiated management, will bring them many challenges.

  How to "grab the stomach of young people" is a question that the catering industry needs to think about. According to Meituan’s statistics, young people aged 20-35 contribute 74% of the orders for catering consumption, and are the main force and new force of online catering consumption. Young people’s catering needs are more personalized and segmented, and they are also more willing to try a variety of novel things, which requires restaurants not only to meet the needs of young users in terms of consumption forms, but also to broaden their horizons in product development.

  In the era of personalization and segmentation, whether Internet information technology can be deeply integrated with user requests directly determines the success or failure of modern catering practitioners.

  Experts believe that the future development of the catering industry can be summarized as the three major trends of online and offline integration, supply chain vertical integration and catering retailing. "Through online and offline integration, data and technology, restaurants can turn every customer into a user and every user into a member in the future. Store managers can understand the preferences of each customer through big data and provide services for thousands of people. This is an innovation that the catering industry will definitely face."