In the 17th century, Peter the Great inspired a custom of smashing glasses after a toast in the Tsardom of Russia. While the origins of the custom are at best unsubstantiated, toasters still stick to the principle of the thing in certain parts of the world. The fireplace toss supposedly cements camaraderie as the reasoning goes.
While shattered glasses might enhance the festivities, the occasion is nowhere near as joyous when glassware reaches a brittle end in a hotel. Crockery attrition is a fact of hospitality life when serving hundreds of covers are served a day. Knives and forks also suffer, and need regular replacement. This tends to place hospitality establishments in a dilemma. They would ideally want to wait until a vetted supplier makes a scheduled delivery. But a shortage of essentials brings down service standards and can translate to lost custom.
Cash and carry might seem like a quick fix. The concern, however, is that what’s readily available might not fit with existing inventory. Mismatched mugs are never a good option, except perhaps in bachelor pads. BuyFnB.com believes it may have found an elegant solution to the problem. It’s an e-commerce platform under Hotelity — one of the UAE’s better-known hotel supplies company. The idea is to create a one-stop online shop for superior grade F&B products. And with a delivery time of 48 hours, BuyFnB.com neatly bifurcates the immediate gratification of cash and carry, and the long lead times often required by official suppliers.
“Our aim is to create an elegant answer to one of the industry’s biggest challenges — holding inventory of F&B products while dealing with the sluggish turnaround for sourcing them. We stock a wide array of brands preferred by regional hospitality operators and have devoted time to making the shopping experience as friendly and hassle-free as possible,” says Shubendhu Roy, managing director, Hotelity.
BuyFnB.com is a world away from laboriously filling in procurement forms. Customers just log in, add products to their cart and check out with secure payment. Pristine plates and shiny utensils show up at the hotel’s unloading bay in 48 hours, with each order also amassing loyalty points that can be used the next time around. The world of hospitality is rather wedded to tradition. There’s a certain reverence for the status quo. So while food and beverage professionals are au fait with buying online in their personal lives, they tend to stick with convention when it comes to business procurement. BuyFnB.com is looking to upend that — in favour of the industry, and the customers it serves.
“We’ve repeatedly seen how digitisation has created new ways of doing business, and has been harnessed across industries to bring more value to customers, improve satisfaction, optimise supply chains and effectively target marketing strategies. Small wonder that the UAE has come out in favour of digital innovation and has made it a pillar of sustainable future growth With the food and beverage sector up at the top of the list as one of the UAE’s largest industries, it stands to reason that digital channels can have tremendous beneficial impact here.” The mechanics of market competition are interesting. BuyFnB.com isn’t necessarily looking to grab market share from established distributors. Rather, the brand’s forecasts tend to believe that cash and carry is more at risk. As hotels become comfortable buying online, and more competitors enter the online space to meet demand, the days of running to the china shop might be nearing an end.
For Roy and the team at BuyFnB.com, the current portfolio of services is just the start. “We’ve started with a stocklist that boasts an impressive product range for the restaurant table service. In the next phase, we will be introducing limited edition and gastronomy-led products that will help the industry upgrade its service proposition. We’re also looking at expanding our range to other hotel operations apart from restaurants,” Roy notes.
It’s a brave new online F&B world that for now affords space to grow. If BuyFnB.com estimates are right, the next 18 to 24 months will change how hotels buy in favour of a digital model. Suppliers, take note: The time for online is now.
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