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Digital can address existential crisis facing a cornerstone of the … – Digital News Asia

Mouth watering feasts are guaranteed at the local Mamaks in Malaysia. Technology adoption can solve their labour woes, contends, StoreHub founder, Fong Wai Hong.
Digital can address existential crisis facing a cornerstone of the Malaysian lifestyle..the MamakI still remember the countless times I’ve spent sipping on my hot cup of frothy teh tarik, munching on some soft, fluffy roti while talking with friends hours into the night at the local Mamak. There’s never been a lack of conversations with the vibrant and dynamic society of Malaysia with all of our tensions, celebrations and funny moments. Hours fly by in what feels like minutes and we all go home with our tummies glad and our hearts filled with connection.
So when I read recently about some of the fairly extensive coverage on the latest threat to a cornerstone of our Malaysian lifestyle, specifically the labour shortage faced by F&B outlets across the country, I felt incredibly concerned.
One that stood out in particular was a piece quoting Jawahar Ali,  President of Persatuan Pengusaha Restoran Muslim Malaysia (PRESMA), who shared that some 2,000 members had closed their operations in the last two years because of several factors including the lack of manpower. Meanwhile many others are facing business sustainability challenges after being forced to shorten their opening hours due to manpower challenges.
The local Mamak plays a key role in the daily fabric of the Malaysian narrative. Hence, it’s absolutely critical for us to figure out solutions that can help solve this manpower problem for them.
In the work that we at StoreHub are doing with restaurants and eateries, we see plenty of opportunities to use technology to solve these issues. We’ve seen many F&B outlets transform their ordering experience with technology to allow them to still operate in spite of labour challenges.
An Innovative Player in the F&B Service Sector
Mamak outlets in particular have always been some of the most innovative restaurants when it comes to adopting new technology. I still remember even as far as 10 years back when the Mamaks were the first to adopt PDAs to take orders way before anyone else considered such technology. Given the popularity of the Mamak and how crowded they tend to get, managing the efficiency of the operational flow was critical for their success, and they were always innovators on this front.
In more recent times, Mamaks are some of the ones leading the charge with adopting QR code digital ordering systems to overcome the pain and manpower demand in the ordering process. Some of the Mamak outlets we have worked with in this area include Restoran Kayu Nasi Kandar in Taipan and Restoran Sri Bestari KK. Merchants who adopted the QR Order & Pay system we built have observed average order value (AOV) growing up to 1.9x as a result of being innovators on this new frontier. 
By allowing diners to scan a QR code to order and pay via their mobile phones and integrating the entire process into the outlet’s point of sale (POS) system, eateries can solve manpower needs without additional hardware like having to install iPads at tables or equipping waitstaff with devices to take orders – all of which can be quite costly to implement. There is also the added benefit of increased order accuracy and the ability to collect customer data that eatery owners can then use to retarget with promotions and offers.
Maintaining Face-to-face Service in Targeted Areas
There are unique operational challenges for Mamak outlets of course, but none that cannot be overcome with a bit of customisation. For example, the manual price tabulation of the Nasi Kandar station can be integrated into the Point of Sales (PoS) system where the merchant simply key in the price and add on to the bill of a diner. This allows diners to enjoy their meal and add on orders at the table themselves.
On the other hand, Mamak outlets which prefer a face-to-face experience can opt to maintain a manual ordering process for the Nasi Kandar station and only digitise the ordering process for fixed price items like the Roti section and drinks.
Whichever route they choose, there are many ways for mamak outlets to free up manpower so their front line staff can focus on maintaining service speed and order accuracy at a lower cost – all of which form the unique dining experience Malaysians have come to expect from Mamak eateries.
Leverage on Opportunities to Stay Competitive
From digitising customer experiences to owning your customer data – the opportunities for F&B outlet owners to take more control over their business are limitless.
In today’s post-pandemic F&B landscape which is becoming increasingly competitive, it is more important than ever for F&B outlet owners to take charge of their business. Merchants should leverage the increased access to affordable tech solutions like the QR Order & Pay, especially in today’s landscape where diners in general are more open than ever to engage with these digital experiences which brings value such as convenience and order accuracy to the table.
Long live our Mamak culture! I’ll see you there during the FIFA World Cup.
Fong Wai Hong, is Founder and Chieftain of StoreHub, and yes, you will find him at his fave mamak restaurant come the World Cup in Dec
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