Akshay Jatia is the Director- Information Technology and Brand Extensions, Hardcastle Restaurants Pvt. Ltd. (HRPL) and is responsible for spearheading brand extensions, digital innovations and IT for the company. A digital maven, Akshay has been pivotal in setting up the digital team and leading many digital led innovations across the business. He played a key role in consolidating and growing the company's brand extensions - McDelivery, McCafé and McBreakfast.
Akshay joined HRPL in 2014 and since then have been working cross-functionally to understand the nuances of strategy, operations, marketing and IT to be able to synergize them to grow the brand. He also spent a year working across McDonald's restaurants operated by HRPL to get first-hand learning of what goes behind running great restaurants.
In an interview with Restaurant India, Akshay Jatia, Director- Information Technology and Brand Extensions, Hardcastle Restaurants Pvt. Ltd. (HRPL), speaks about innovation McDonald's has brought in the past few years.
The Digital Innovations Growth Story of McDonald's India
We are a brand that is always listening to its customers. We started McDelivery, our food delivery platform, more than 10 years ago, which was then operated through our call centers. In 2013-14, we leveraged technology to launch our own mobile app and website to engage with as well as get them to transact on our McDelivery platform. That was one area, where we immediately took the first step forward and innovated digitally. Further to this, we saw the brand evolve as the delivery category had accelerated in the country. We were among the first restaurants to take advantage of this trend.
Another example of digital innovation is our "Experience of the Future" restaurant. As the name suggests, these are our futuristic restaurants with a host of technology elements to make whole experience of eating at a McDonald's restaurant memorable. We offer customers world-class amenities such as air chargers, order trackers, gaming tablets and Self-Ordering Kiosks which take customer convenience to the next level. In fact, we have got some excellent feedback from customers for our new restaurants.
Digital Innovations in 2018-19
We launched about 25 Experience of the Future restaurants last year. The new restaurant format with self-ordering kiosk, digital menu board and wireless chargers have been a huge digital innovation for us. Another digital innovation has been around the launch of our McDonald's app, a unique platform that gives our customers personalized offers, based on their order preferences, every day. With the new app, we have reinforced our brand promise of value and convenience.
The Revenue Growth
Last year, we grew our revenue by around 25%.Business has been on an upswing with 15 consecutive quarters of positive same store sales growth. . We've been constantly innovating and finding different ways toconnect withthe consumers, do menu innovation as well as give them anoutstanding experience through our restaurants. And this has resulted in fantastic growth for McDonald's.
The Next Plan of Innovation for McDonald's India
We are a customer obsessed organization and are always trying to anticipate our customers' needs.
McDonald's India's journey has been marked with innovation. We started our delivery business way back in 2005, we were the first QSR restaurant to introduce an exclusive breakfast menu, we re-engineered our food to make it more nutritious and wholesome and launched Whole Wheat Buns,and democratized great coffee through McCafé.
Going forward, we will continue to leverage technology to enhance customer convenience and do menu innovations to bring international flavours to our customers at an affordable price. Our innovation efforts will also be focused on enhancing the in-store customer experience.
Another area we will be focusing greatly on will be sustainability. We are committed to growing in a way that is not just good for the business, but also for the people, the community and the planet. We will be introducing processes and practices that will help us moderate our carbon footprint while giving a boost to our profitability.
Trends in the Fast Food Industry in the Next Two Years
In the fast food industry, digital and technology enablement is something that will be a key trend in shaping the future of the industry.With customers getting more and more conscious about the construct of their food, we will also see menu innovation and re-engineering.
Tips for Restaurateurs in setting up their Digital Team
Digital is an evolving platform and hence it is important to have a team that is agile and open to learning. It also helps to have people who are quick to understand numbers and spot trends and are well versed with platforms such as Google analytics and other social media platforms.