Pizza Hut India turns to AI as inflation hits sales

Sapphire Foods said early results from the implementation of an advanced delivery planning software have been encouraging amid an industry-wide decline in sales.
Pizza Hut has introduced AI backed delivery system to combat inflation.
Pizza Hut has introduced AI backed delivery system to combat inflation.

As Pizza has taken a back seat in India, fuelled by fast food lovers turning to more affordable options, one of the major players in the category has brought in innovative technology to lure these customers back. Sapphire Foods, which operates brands such as KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in India, said it has got good results from the introduction of  Dragontail solution to manage their pizza delivery. 

Dragontail solutions is an AI-based kitchen management system that helps the store manage the production and dispatch of products more efficiently by providing information about the delivery partner’s whereabouts. This enables the store to calculate when the delivery partner will arrive at the store and load the pizza accordingly which in turn helps deliver hot and fresh Pizzas to the consumers. 

“What it does in a simple manner is that it traces rider availability.. It tells you when to put the pizza into the oven and so when the rider arrives he/she gets hot and fresh pizzas to carry..,” explains Sanjay Purohit, CEO of Sapphire Foods. 

According to the management, Sapphire Foods is the first player in the Indian fast food market to use such an advanced technology to upgrade the delivery experience. 

Dragontail was acquired by Yum, the American parent of Pizza Hut. It is currently used in several of the Pizza Hut outlets and has been proven successful according to the management of Sapphire. 

Inflation Headwinds

The development comes amid a sharp slowdown in the pizza and discretionary consumer spending market in India due to the withdrawal of liquidity implemented by central banks across the world.

Pizza Hut, for example, has seen its same-store sales growth from Pizza go down by 20% this quarter. It is betting that this innovation would give a much-needed boost to the operations.

“It's been one or two months since we have rolled it out to all Pizza Hut stores and we are quite confident  that this will help us going forward..”

The company also said that they have integrated the technology with delivery platforms such as Zomato, Swiggy a major part of their sales happens through these platforms. 

“Dragontail is now being integrated with the aggregator platforms so that irrespective of when the rider comes to the store, we can calibrate when we load the pizza and therefore in the shortest possible time the consumer can receive the pizza and therefore it is hot and fresh.. ” explains Sanjay stressing that the company believes this to “impact ratings and help build sales.”

He also added that despite the temporary decline in the Pizza business, fuelled by persistent macroeconomic conditions the company will remain focused more on the category and the brand. 

“Pizza Hut remains an important pillar of our multi-brand strategy..despite the short-term dip that we have seen, with the above action plan we believe the brand will recover in the medium term,” he said 

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The New Indian Express