BusinessToday speaks to F&B business, I Love Yoo! (ILY) on their take on digitalising during the pandemic and why it’s important for other businesses to adopt their footsteps now.
1. How is ILY coping with the pandemic?
Just like any other SMEs in Malaysia, we have been through numerous challenges since the outbreak of Covid-19 and the team has strived hard to diversify our income as the pandemic is rewriting the rules of retail.
Traditional brick and mortar is at the risk of falling behind as Malaysians are urged to stay home and practice social distancing to curb the spread of Covid-19.
We also have to modify our operations in accordance with the standard operating procedures issued by Majlis Keselamatan Negara (MKN) and to adhere to the government rules and regulations. The team has to be flexible with change and to react in the fastest manner for all work arrangements.
2. Share some of your strategies to navigate through this current business climate.
The first thing we did right after the MCO is to start offering delivery service to customers, knowing that this is the only method to keep the sales going. The delivery menu is slightly different from our outlet menu as we try to cater to families and bigger groups as compared to individual meals.
Another strategy is to start opening outlets in shop lots so that we can serve more neighbourhoods as there’s a fear of entering crowded areas like shopping malls now. This also offer convenience to customers as they do not have to enter the shopping malls to purchase our meals.
We now have 3 outlets which are located at shop lots namely I Love Yoo! – [email protected], I Love Yoo! – Bandar Sungai Long and I Love Yoo! – Hock Choon.
3. Being in the F&B sector, what are your challenges and what do you hope could have been executed better?
Competition is one of the main challenges as more and more F&B business are emerging. Consumers now have more choices with a variety of cuisines coming from different countries therefore it is harder to maintain consumer loyalty.
Whilst I Love Yoo! strives to maintain our reputation of serving affordable meals, costing has been quite a challenge due to inflation. We do observe a trend where consumers do not mind paying more for restaurants with Instagramable layout and designs however being affordable is the core purpose of our business and we find joy in serving everyone.
4. ILY has both retail and a franchise model, do you have any plans explore the e-commerce side of the business?
We do have plans to offer our merchandise and products to our consumers online and we are taking it one step at a time, exploring partnership opportunities with major e-commerce sites like Shopee and Lazada for a start.
5. Along with a presentable website and high engagement on your social media sites, how important are these factors for a F&B business?
With the volatility in the current business trend, it is crucial for information to be available online because this the sole channel where people can get real-time information. It is also equally important to be constantly engaged with our customers and this is where our online platforms come into picture.
6. You’re a user of the Celcom Business Suite, what was that experience like for your business?
We cannot emphasize enough on the importance of being connected to the internet during this pandemic era. With the whole industry undergoing digitalisation, it is important for us not to fall behind and Celcom Business Suite has been a major help to keep everyone connected with real time data for strategic planning and implementation.
We cannot see the possibility of being disconnected as we embrace more digital transformation in our day-to-day business operations.