How did a 38-year-old restaurant chain move the dine-in experience to home dining? Bicol-born restaurant Biggs, just like any other business, knew that dining in has to undergo changes if it were to survive pandemic restrictions. From on-site to online, restaurants must thrive and preserve the integrity of its service even without the usual glory of in-store dining. Here, Biggs CEO Carlo Buenaflor talks about the restaurant’s shift-to-digital process and its action plans for survival.

Now that you’ve shifted to digital, did the metrics of success also change?

Sales conversion, among other metrics, is a major KPI (key performance indicator) alongside ad spend-to-sales ratio.

Had the pandemic not happened, would Biggs have stayed put or was moving to digital already in the pipeline? 

Biggs has always been on the lookout for new areas to cover—be it physical or digital—for years now through micro projects such as delivery apps, cloud kitchen initiatives and social media engagements, among others. Biggs however didn’t have the key resources for a digital machinery needed at the time. The pandemic gave the team that extra nudge to finally speak to new audiences with its existing products, in a new platform.

Biggs' solution for an authentic dine-at-home experience? Ready-to-cook ribs
Their solution for an authentic dine-at-home experience? Ready-to-cook ribs

Can you share ballpark figures on how the shift to digital has helped Biggs? 

We can’t share at the moment the specific figure but the online sales are growing 30 percent month on month since its launch in July.

What are your specific measures to reduce costs? 

Biggs had to be strategic with a lot of things—optimizing ads, partnering with logistics teams, finding an optimal hub for deliveries, identifying partner retailers, scaling down the team, product positioning, even the packaging and presentation to ensure costs are efficient. By having Biggs paired with an enabler such as Phenomenon Group Inc., it’s able to efficiently manage its resources.

How else can you better communicate dine-in experience at home? 

Consistent dialogues with customers through engaging, personalized content (e.g. newsletters), running surveys, and constantly innovating the product assortment will make the brand move forward.

How can brands, particularly those that are new in the digital scene, create a huge following?

Brands would need to know who they’re talking to in the first place. Data-driven content will help them engage at the right time with the right story. While Biggs already has a 38-year story to tell, it’s important for the team to know who they’re talking to. This entails looking at months and weeks of data, constantly asking customers, looking at their preferences, and getting to know the daily nuances that encourage them to order from us. In order to come up with great content, brands need to know their customers very well.

Aside from ribs, Biggs also have ready-to-cook cordon bleu and chicken ham
Aside from ribs, they also have ready-to-cook cordon bleu and chicken ham

Twelve more products are slated for release. Will they be rolled out within 2021, and any hint on what product categories they would fit in? 

Biggs is looking into expanding the breakfast line (currently just bacon and New York franks) and offering more of its restaurant bestsellers such as the tenderloin tips and beef salpicao. They’ll all be released within the year, alongside other great products.

What’s the ultimate customer-first strategy that will be effective both online (including the dine-at-home experience) and on-site? 

Constant innovation—be it in service, product, experience—that’s backed by customer feedback and insights put the customer as the main driver for the brand. 

Is there a different approach for the segment that may not have heard of the brand? 

With the pandemic’s mobility limitations, new work arrangements, and the boom of smaller, neighborhood enterprising communities that are commuter-friendly, it’s important to engage customers through multiple channels with brand stories that are also as varied as the stories that customers tell. To do this, Biggs would need to be in as many living room conversations as possible—something that the brand is currently working on.