The COVID-19 outbreak across the world brought sudden changes in almost all spheres of life. Besides enforcing the new normal, it has had a deep effect of the psychology of the people as well as the governments. It is predicted that even after the end of the pandemic, the new normal will stay in place so as to avoid any other future catastrophe like COVID-19.
As the world gradually adapts to the changed order, almost all the countries including India are gearing-up to help the businesses start all over again after the lockdown. As the country gradually unlocks, slowly but steadily businesses are gaining pace and helping the economy revive. However, the million-dollar question at this moment is how soon we will be able to reach the pre-COVID levels of business in all sectors. Among all the uncertainties floating around, one thing is certain; all the businesses will have to find new strategies, invest in new technologies and device new ideas to adapt to the new way of business and consumer mindset in the post-COVID world.
Coming Back on Track
Like all other sectors, the kitchenware industry too is gradually but progressively finding its lost ground. Although even during the lockdown, the online sales did not stop, in the past few weeks with new guidelines in place the over the counter sales have also started picking up. The lengthy lockdown period forced consumers to stay back at home, however, with new guidelines and SOPs in place and the businesses strictly following them, customers are regaining confidence of coming out of their homes and shop for their favourite brands.
One needs to be mindful of the fact that a large portion of Indian consumers are still not totally confident about online shopping and prefer visiting retail stores for their shopping needs. The consumer confidence is having domino effect on the businesses and the entire industry is striving to find new ways to make the consumer experience safer, more hygienic and assuring.
The COVID-19 outbreak had a strong impact on the consumer psychology and the lot is bound to change in the way people eat not only outside but also at home. Keeping this in mind; like every other industry the kitchenware industry will also have to re-invent itself as they bring in the new offerings along with updating their previous ones so as to meet the demands of the consumers in terms of high standards of hygiene. The post-COVID customer will be expecting the kitchenware which will ensure no to minimum human touch to the food items during cooking as well as serving.
Luckily, the kitchenware industry already has been experimenting on something to meet this demand. Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are emerging as the solutions to address all the current concerns of consumers and be prepared for future demands. Combining the new age technologies with the brand name can do wonders in no time with little human intervention. The minimal human interference safety, hygiene and perfection can be expected as every aspect is pre-programmed.
Automation is Key Going Forward
In this fast-changing scenario, COVID-19 cases rising and no significant breakthrough in vaccine, the kitchenware industry should brace itself for more sophisticated consumer demands and stringent rules. One can easily foresee the introduction of stricter guidelines by the government taking the benchmark of safety and hygiene a notch higher. The industry should expect a greater emphasis on the use of unsupervised minimum human-touch smart equipment assuring high standards of food safety and hygiene.
While the government is laying new rules to beat the virus at all levels, consumers themselves will be more discerning in times to come. The products with higher standards of hygiene will attract more customers and the customers would like to visit the stores where social distancing and other safety norms are followed in the best possible way.
The kitchenware industry will have to upgrade itself with new-age technology which depends a lot on Artificial Intelligence and complete automation. Technologies like Automation Streamline Operations in enterprises to reduce costs, save time, minimize human intervention and offer tireless continuous operations. In the times of pandemic, the utility of these technologies has increased as businesses are forced to operate with minimum staff and maintain highest levels of safety and hygiene for their employees as well as customers. With automation, brands can automate repetitive business processes or tasks that are rule-based. Its successful performance during the pandemic has started on the upsurge in its future demands undeniably. The next big change in automation will see more digital employees and digital transformation. With an integration of all communication tools in the digital workspace that employees use, communication barriers can be removed and thus, promoting productivity, innovation, and efficiency.
A few more benefits of implementing automation are that bots are easy to implement and cost-effective as they happen to be more accurate in doing every task the same way every time. Bots gather information from different sources to keep up the stock details of vendors selling various goods. It can also be used to automate replies to FAQs by easing the whole process. Most importantly machines can be sterilized and sanitized much more effectively compared to humans.
AI: Enhancing Safety
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are playing very important roles in the world of safety and hygiene. Artificial Intelligence plays a significant role in defining this new normal of work in the ongoing pandemic as well as the post pandemic world. It enables companies to adapt to fast-changing situations by infusing the key attributes of agility, frugality, and responsiveness. AI can also create an effective workforce in the future by combining both the human capability of superior thinking and the fast-execution capability of robots. This approach will help companies not only survive the challenging conditions but also come out with the latest and robust capabilities.
From manufacturing to storage, AI leads the way with perfection. Automation would also mean using lesser manpower which would even serve the golden rule of social distancing and in the long run, may save on precious man-hours. AI also goes a long way in enriching customer satisfaction. With a rich mine of data at their disposal, kitchenware industry will be soon able to gauge customer preferences and whip up curated products to their personal liking. Offering products with consumer-centric mindset and with the ability to understand their needs without having to explain their preferences will surely increase customer satisfaction. Imbibing such smart technology with the products, brands will master the perfection offering the customers with the right offering of their choice.
The use of AI will not only help in reducing the probability of errors and providing greater precision, but it will study historical data to reduce costs. The brands will be able to serve the customer 24/7 through digital assistance while reducing their time on data analysis. This will also help in early detection and epidemic analysis. Not only AI will help companies meet the demands of today but also it will help them predict the demands and trends of future and design futuristic products. Therefore, it would be wise to say that AI will make companies future-ready.
Emerging Innovations Leading the Change
As kitchenware industry integrates AI and automation, some of the innovative products like kitchen bots, smart WiFi instant pots, WiFi sous vide precision cooker, smart WiFi air fryer, smart food scale etc. have led the way. Kitchen robots are the future of food and beverages (F&B) industry as they offer solutions to various challenges faced by food vendors in maintaining taste, quality, hygiene, and consistency.
Alexa-enabled WiFi instant pots can do everything a standard instant pot can do while sous vide precision cooker helps in slow-cooking.
The mushrooming kitchen technologies make cooking faster, precise and help in monitoring the cooking process. AI-enabled smart kitchen appliances free up your time in the kitchen and help in measuring the nutrition value of each smoothie ingredient.
As the saying goes, change is the only constant. Kitchens across the world over are set to become more intelligent with smart appliances, bot chefs, voice assistant, tailor-made menus and perfect dishes, therefore, the kitchenware industry is set to evolve technically. Technology once again is set to lead the way and hand-hold the industry into a post-COVID era with new discoveries and learnings. The right use of technology will help businesses revive in near future and thrive in the years to come.kitchenware