In Tokyo, a state of emergency was declared for the fourth time in July 2021 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and restaurants in the metropolis were once again particularly impacted. The restaurant industry is experiencing a decline in customers and sales, and new initiatives are needed to realize renewed growth in the post-COVID era.
While there are many challenges to be overcome, digital transformation (DX) may hold the key to renewed growth for the restaurant sector. Seeing an opportunity to contribute to the industry, SoftBank Corp. (TOKYO: 9434) tied up with Create Restaurants Holdings inc., a Japan-based company that plans, develops and manages a variety of restaurant brands ranging from casual food courts and izakayas (Japanese style bars) to dinner-time restaurants. The company differentiates itself by tailoring for customer preferences and the unique characteristics of each restaurant location. Create Restaurants operates approximately 1,000 restaurants under 250 brands that will benefit from digital transformation.
Through the application of digital technologies, Create Restaurants is aiming to increase customer satisfaction and convenience, streamline store operations to cope with labor shortages, reduce operating costs and boost sales. SoftBank is also looking to contribute to the restaurant industry at large by utilizing the solutions and advanced technologies of SoftBank and its group companies.
Using AI, RPA, and robots to create restaurants that are a cut above
Create Restaurants and SoftBank will collaborate in a number of ways to digitally transform restaurants.
One entails the use of AI to build a sales forecasting system. Using floating population data held by a SoftBank group company, historical sales data at each restaurant location, weather information and other data, both companies will improve customer forecasting accuracy to optimize employee shifts and food supply orders.
Another initiative involves one-to-one marketing to deliver information customized for the needs of each individual customer. Both companies will use the services of SoftBank group companies like Yahoo Japan and LINE to build data bases and deliver tailored information on recommended menu choices and discounts.
Developing automated self-service restaurants is an additional area for collaboration. Create Restaurants and SoftBank will promote the automation of customer hosting and escorting, the use of smartphones and tablets for ordering and paying bills, and the deployment of robot servers.
Create Restaurants and SoftBank will also use robotic process automation (RPA) and other methods to improve the efficiency of back-office operations. SoftBank is now implementing its “Digital Worker 4000 Project” to digitize the equivalent of 4,000 human-hours of productivity, and a number of work tasks have been automated with RPA. By utilizing SoftBank's RPA know-how, both companies will aim to maximize operational efficiencies at Create Restaurants Holdings.
Looking toward a revitalization of the restaurant industry in a post-COVID world, SoftBank and Create Restaurants will actively promote the digital transformation of restaurants.
(Posted on July 20, 2021)
by SoftBank News Editors