Augmented reality (AR) will transform food delivery within the next five years as the industry prepares for a technological evolution, according to the Foodhub CEO.
Ardian Mula says AR will enable customers to experience the sights, sounds and possibly even smells, of their favourite takeaway, allowing customers the full takeaway experience without leaving the house.
This year, Foodhub bosses have put plans in place for the development of AR within the business, placing the food delivery company at the forefront of the tech revolution.
Mr Mula says that many of the 20,000 restaurants and takeaways currently partnered with his Stoke-on-Trent-based firm could have access to the tech within just five years. He sees the development as a win-win for both consumer, who will enjoy a never-before-seen buying experience, and the trader, with access to a new and exciting marketing tool.
Mr Mula commented: “I see this technology as being a game changer for both the industry and the takeaway consumer. Imagine as a consumer if you could have the full takeaway experience, using just your smartphone and a pair of goggles?
“This could allow customers to effectively walk into a takeaway and get the full flavour of the business, from the branding to the shop interior. They could then ‘shop’ their own order, from building a burger to picking a pizza off the shelf, as well as interacting with staff – all from the comfort of their own living room.
“Since the Covid-19 pandemic, people’s ordering habits have changed, and technology such as this will revitalise the industry in a way we haven’t seen for a long time.”
As progress is made developing this software, Foodhub is also placing significant resource into improving the technology available to independent takeaways right now, with the aim of using technology to improve efficiency, order levels and profitability.
Mr Mula said: “Whilst larger chains have had access to different technologies for some time, at Foodhub we want to see a level playing field across the big players within the industry and local high street takeaways.”
Meanwhile, it’s possible that takeaways will soon become entirely cashless, with more affordable technology such as pay by QR becoming the norm.
Mr Mula commented: “QR codes can be printed for pennies, a stark contrast to expensive payment hardware. In global markets such as India, there has been a big emphasis placed on providing businesses with these more affordable technologies, and we see a big opportunity to providing business owners with the chance to save on tech and instead invest elsewhere.”
In fact, deploying software online will reduce the need for takeaway owners to rely on hardware across the board. Fusion 2.0, an exciting update to Foodhub’s software system currently in trial with 100 takeaways nationally, will see traditional tools such as tills and printers being replaced with the need for only one device, such as an iPhone or iPad.
Using one device that can act as a digital chef’s menu, order management system, payment device and a tool to remove boundaries across multiple sites will result in less waste and increased efficiency.
Modularisation within the platform also gives takeaways the ability to access different features, whilst simply and easily being able to turn on and off anything they do not require access to. In turn, this provides access to cutting-edge technology, at an affordable cost.
Another development that aims to bring independents in line with larger chains is the more widespread introduction of automation. In practice, this involves kitchens having access to machinery that cooks food the same perfect way every time.
Mr Mula said: “While this tech, which has been used by big businesses for years, would reduce the need for staff, it would solve staffing issues for many whilst also resulting in increased customer satisfaction through providing a better, more precise, product. We’d love to see more independents with access to technology like this.”
When looking further into the future, within a decade Mr Mula foresees food being delivered by drones and robots, particularly in rural areas which are less accessible by car and motorcycle than cities.
Natasha Archer, at Archers Sweets in Leeds, has been working with Foodhub for just under a year and can already see the benefits technology is having on the business: “Over the last few years, we’ve been upgrading our tech capabilities in line with the functions available with the Foodhub platform.
“We’re currently trialling the new Fusion software and are really excited to see the changes this will have to our business. We can already see a difference with regards to profitability, and through the ease of running everything through one device.
“As an independent business, using the software developed by Foodhub means we are able to keep up with the biggest players in the industry, something we would struggle to do without access to technologies such as these.”
Overall, it is an incredibly exciting time for the industry, which thrived throughout the recent lockdowns and now needs to sustain the appetite for food deliveries.
Mr Mula added: “We’re incredibly excited about the evolution that the food industry is experiencing right now and Foodhub is pleased to be at the forefront of it. We are dedicating a lot of resource to ensure that we are on the cutting edge of this technology and are in a position to help our independent partners capitalise when the time is right.”