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Horeca in Italy: lockdown brings a boom in vouchers and delivery services

lockdown delivery

MILAN – In just two months of lockdown, e-commerce changed Italian consumer habits, possibly for good. That picture was already becoming clear from the flash survey carried out by Netcomm at the end of March: new users – many of them unlikely candidates – had started to turn to online shopping. Now, the trend has been confirmed: from the beginning of 2020 to today there are two million new digital consumers in Italy (out of a total of 29 million users), and of these, 1.3 million have come on board because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

On top of that, it seems that this desire to shop online will continue even when the emergency is over. Yes, many consumers will go back to shopping on the high street, but many new users will continue to use online channels, no longer out of necessity but because they have seen the convenience, the flexibility and even the savings they offer.

“Italians were very quick to change their consumer behaviour, which are now governed by the pursuit of a ‘safe experience’ and by something known as proximity commerce, which is all about integration between the big players in eCommerce and small shopkeepers, thanks to logistics and delivery platforms,” says Roberto Liscia, President of Netcomm.

The data gathered by the Osservatorio eCommerce B2c, a monitoring body at Milan Polytechnic, reveals that the main growth during lockdown occurred in eGrocery, with online purchases doubling and revenues tripling (online Food&Grocery purchases by Italian consumers will be worth a total of 2.5 billion euros, up +55%, so by nearly 1 billion euros on 2019).

In the past few weeks and months, contactless delivery has indeed been one of the most popular parts of the Ho.Re.Ca sector, especially for the out-of-home foodservice sector. Mepra, for example, concentrated on synergies with certain restaurants that already offered a home delivery service. In this way, thanks to the partnership with a number of well-established client restaurants (Ceresio 7, Il Pagliaccio, Da Vittorio, to name just a few), a voucher system was set up, offering 10% discounts to use on the company’s e-commerce activities in Cutlery and Tableware.

Something else that has taken hold on both sides of the Atlantic is the phenomenon of the so-called “dark kitchen”, the ideal complement to a delivery trend that really took off during lockdown.

Glovo opened its first Cook Room in Milan for cooking activities outsourced by its professional catering partners, while in the United States, one big player, Middleby, now offers a so-called “ghost kitchen”, not just involving all the most important kitchen equipment brands (including those without ventilation), but also governed by completely automated intelligence.

The result: by using the Powerhouse Dynamics Open Kitchen solution, those working in the kitchen have access to a state-of-the-art IoT platform capable of monitoring the performance of the various components in real time, and can thus ensure that work is done efficiently and costs kept down.