#3: How might we learn from COVID-19 to reimagine our future for life, work, learning and play?
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we consume food forever. With all the social distancing measures in place, the F&B sector is amongst one of the most affected industries. As an F&B owner personally, I think it is important for all F&B outlets to consider new models for the future to operate online and offer delivery services islandwide. However, the high cost of delivering small individual orders to customers across the island and maintaining an in-house delivery fleet is just too costly for small outlets to take on themselves. FOODHOOD solves that by taking a community-driven approach, creating a system that consolidate orders for better efficiency, and utilising a common pool of resources to manage shared delivery costs more effectively while doing good all at the same time.
Criteria #1: Value
The F&B industry is one that operates on high overheads and running costs coupled with a model that had previously relied heavily on dine in customers. The new social distancing and circuit breaker measures have crippled F&B operators permanently, since they can only rely on online food delivery and takeaway orders now. While delivery platforms and apps have been around for the past couple of years, the hefty commission fees actually do more harm to the operators, wiping out the already thin margins. As operators struggle to put their delivery menus online, the most critical problem lies in the difficulty of managing delivery and the high cost to deliver food directly to their customers across Singapore. FOODHOOD offers a unified platform organised by hoods that is simple and effective.
Criteria #2: Inspiration
FOODHOOD was created to tap onto the community “kampung spirit” and “friends help another another” relationship. In reality, solutions don’t always necessarily have to be high tech. Simple acts of lending a helping hand, or just walking a short distance can literally help one another. Basically, when a customer adds different items from various outlets on FOODHOOD into their bag and checks out, the customer only pays for 1 flat delivery fee. What then happens is that each outlet will prepare their respective items and “walk” them over to a nearby neighbour’s outlet to deposit their items at a central drop off point. A delivery hero will be arranged to pick up the consolidated orders[ and get the items delivered to a customer’s home. Just like a food court for the neighbourhood but digital.
Criteria #3: Impact
Everyone stand to gain in this scenario. The customer gets a wider selection of food items from multiple outlets to choose from and pays a lower delivery fee in general. When customers order via FOODHOOD, merchants can avoid hefty commissions, retaining a good margin of their sales without incurring the otherwise high individual delivery charges (since it is shared amount all outlets). The customer’s spend will go directly into helping small F&B businesses to tide over this tough period and at the same time help to create jobs for the independent and freelance delivery personnels that were displaced from their jobs recently. Essentially what we want to create is a healthy ecosystem where consumers can support merchants, and merchants can in return support independent service providers.
Criteria #4: Timeliness
The idea was conceived and put quickly together over 7 days, where a deck was put together, got several outlets within the Jalan Besar neighbourhood were on-boarded, a website was coded in 72 hours and subsequently launched on 17th April. FOODHOOD.SG is currently live and operating, and has since already generated a couple thousand dollars of sales for the pilot neighbourhood of Jalan Besar. I am currently in talks and discussions with other F&B owners from other neighbourhoods to see how we can bring them into the platform in the next phase so that likeminded FOODHOOD community can continue to grow, creating a common space for food and culture lovers to gather.
Criteria #5: Systems Thinking
Over the past couple of weeks, a myriad of food listing, discovery and aggregation sites and groups have sprung up, connecting end customers with hawkers and small F&B businesses offering food delivery. However, most of them only solve a small part of the long value chain of food delivery. What really needed to be addressed was the underlying problem of helping merchants to lower costs, allocate manpower and optimise resources in this new landscape. By harnessing a community driven approach, FOODHOOD aims to collectively help small businesses by providing a full fledged online ordering platform capable of placing orders and accepting payments, with no upfront costs, returning majority of the sales back to the merchants and taking away the hassle of handling the delivery logistics away.