The Manchester restaurants that are embracing digital

February 2, 2022

With welcomed news of a vaccine on the horizon, it's perhaps time to start thinking retrospectively about how businesses have responded to Covid, and what some may still need to do in overcoming the disruption caused.  

Some industries, of course, have been hit harder than others. Whilst Covid has boosted Amazon's revenue by 40%, the hospitality industry, in particular, has been devastated. 

Restaurants, pubs and bars rely on traditional business models that haven't evolved much over 100s of years. Without footfall and millions of people in lockdown, these businesses have suffered the most. So, if every cloud has a silver lining, what positives can be found here?  

Adverse market conditions drive innovation  

Adverse market conditions can have a habit of driving out innovation and transformative business practices that wouldn't otherwise have been seen. We have seen the rise of ‚take out pints' and ‚substantial meals', showing that many pubs and bars have had the capacity to quickly change the way they deliver their service. 

However, some of the best innovation has come from restaurants. Some have reinvented what their business means, and they have done it by putting digital at the heart of their reinvention. Small businesses have beaten big corporates through agility and innovation. It's been amazing to see, and there is plenty for us to learn.   

A recent study by McKinsey & Company found that 65% of executives felt Covid would be the most challenging moments of their careers; meanwhile, restaurateurs up and down the country have found new ways to engage customers and generate revenue.  

Who has done it well?

Step up, Rudy's Pizza & Almost Famous.

Both are Manchester institutions in their own right and have used digital as the cornerstone to their response. Interestingly, both Rudy's and Almost Famous already worked with Deliveroo & Uber Eats to get food into the homes of customers (within certain areas) pre-Covid, so what has changed in their approach post-Covid?

Rudy's have started selling their legendary Pizza's online, with them being delivered frozen to your door within a day or two ‚ they taste almost as good as if you ate them in the restaurant.

Comparably, Almost Famous' equally legendary Burgers are a little more complicated but are being sold as make at home burger kits under the Famous at Home‚ banner.

Both restaurants have delivered well optimised, serviceable and fully-fledged ecommerce solutions, complete with fulfilment under the incredible pressure that Covid has put on businesses in their sector.

It's likely opened up new customers, further afield than before and tapped into a new ‚at home' marketplace. Whereas Deliveroo or Uber Eats allowed you to order a pizza or a burger right now, these new propositions give customers a chance to order the same products but ahead of time.

What does this mean long term?

Both brands have legitimate new propositions in serving new customer bases with ‚at home' cooking and solidifying new marketplaces. Could we see Rudy's competing with frozen pizza giants, or Almost Famous competing with other make-at-home kits like Hello Fresh?

Only time will tell, but in the short term, we can learn from what they have achieved. These two businesses found new ways to package up and present their products, using digital to modernise a traditional business model.

To see ecommerce stores like these delivered so quickly, and to a high standard shows that it is achievable to leverage digital technology and rapidly deploy new products and services (even under difficult circumstances).

There's also tried and tested methods that businesses can use to help navigate the waters, whether they're struggling, unsure of how to approach 2021, or even thriving in a post-Covid market.

Finally, I have to give a special shout out to Almost Famous, too. Their approach to establishing Famous at Home‚ has been incredible. It's more than just an ecommerce store, they've delivered an entirely new sub-brand experience. They have cleverly used scarcity, selling in limited releases to keep demand high, but also to drive the conversation around the new proposition.

Anybody who follows them on Twitter will have seen their launch, the regular drops of new supply and army of hungry followers celebrating their order or hoping for better luck next time. I've seen clients pour hundreds of thousands of pounds into launch campaigns and have less success, kudos!

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