Cushioning impact through hashtags

Credit: macrovector / Freepik

Business Today Malaysia speaks to Fave Managing Director, Jake Abdullah and founder of DiineOut, Lionel Lau and co-founder of The Other Kitchen, Albert Wong on how their initiatives are helping businesses in the F&B industry to stay afloat

By Poovenraj Kanagaraj

In any given day, businesses in the food and beverage (F&B) industry face daily struggles to keep operations running smoothly. Today, these struggles have amplified, raising questions if the existing players in the industry will be able to have their doors open after the crisis subsides.

Restaurants, in all shapes and sizes in the country are asking themselves a similar question. With the outbreak and the announcement of the Movement Control Order (MCO) following suit, restaurants and cafes alike have been seeing close to zero revenue in the last couple of weeks.

However, arising from the crisis are several movements that are hoping to cushion the impact the industry is currently facing with hopes that everyone can come out unscathed after the outbreak subsides.

Digital merchant platform, FAVE have launched the #SaveOurFave movement encouraging consumers to support their favourite merchants by purchasing eCards that could be used at the time of purchase or within the next six months.

“Our goal with the ‘Save Our Fave’ movement is to help cushion the business closures that restaurants and retailers will face over the next few months,” says Fave Managing Director, Jake Abdullah.

FAVE, Managing Director, Jake Abdullah shows his support to local business via his Instagram post

With over 300,000 nationwide restaurants and retailers in Malaysia, 17,000 restaurants and retailers are registered under Fave.

“We have seen many joining the social media movement by posting a picture of what restaurant or service they are missing the most and tagging five other friends to the same along with the hashtag #saveourfave,” Jake told Business Today Malaysia.

The movement has also seen local personalities join in to further encourage Malaysians to support their favourite merchants by purchasing the eCards in order to keep businesses afloat during the crisis.

According to Jake, within the first week of the movement (4th week of March), Fave have seen the eCards sales grow three-fold and the same upward trajectory has since been seen daily as more people continue to join the movement to express their support towards local businesses.

Until the end of April, Fave will not be taking any commissions or cuts from the eCards that merchants are pre-selling on the platform. This will allow merchants to obtain 100 percent of sales until April 30.

“We encourage other platforms to reduce their commissions, so we can all chip in to help ensure restaurants, retailers and businesses do not bear the brunt of the economic damage,” urged Jake.

He further says that more needs to be done for them to help mitigate the situation as well as to address business challenges as most F&B retailers are already trying to salvage the situation in the form of token gestures and paying it forward.

#JomTapau, another movement that came about during the crisis has been seeing a similar traction among Malaysians. The hashtag in Malay meaning ‘Let’s Takeaway’ is an initiative launched by The Other Kitchen, a F&B focused digital marketing agency and DiineOut, a local pioneering online marketplace for unique dining and F&B events,  aiming to help F&B businesses to offer self-pick-up or delivery options to their customers.

The #jomtapau logo

Both firms had come up with an Online Ordering System (OSS) called app’etite which allows restaurant partners to create a simple webpage within just 24 hours to list menu items, images, pickup and delivery options.

Lionel Lau, founder of DiineOut says challenging times call for a change in the way things have been done.

“We know the small eateries as well as local home-grown eateries that are dependent on day-to-day sales for their livelihoods are struggling,” Lau says.

A flat rate of RM 2 per order for the payment processing fee and a two percent transaction fee will be imposed over the transactional fee will be waivered until industry is in a better position.

Co-founder of The Other Kitchen, Albert Wong says they have partnered up with the likes of MrSpeedy and Lalamove as delivery partners and will continue to see more partners come on board as the numbers of F&B businesses listing themselves on app’etite continues to grow as well.

Currently, the number stands at 70 with up to 10 to 15 inquiries coming in from various restaurants on a daily basis.

According to Albert, there have been an increase in deliveries registered by restaurants, estimating a 20 percent jump from a usual day of operations. While the significant jump is unusual for restaurants due to the MCO, the services provided by the team is proving to be an alternative for many currently confined to their homes.

“People are realizing that there are alternatives as not all delivery services can deliver to certain locations due to the shortage of riders,” says Lionel.

While Lionel and his team continue to approach small and local eateries, it is not without its challenges as some eateries have resisted to the changes taking place on the belief that things will go back to normal in a couple of months.

“Delivery is here to stay and it will continue to grow,” Albert tells Business Today Malaysia as he goes on to say that it is the smaller eateries will face the biggest impact.

“What we are trying to do is give them this option and not lose the diverse food options we have out there. It would be a sad day if all we are left with is large chains. You will see a number of players collapse but we will continue to help as many to stay afloat,” says Albert.






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