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INTERVIEW

“We expect to be top 3 pizza brand in India by 2025”
Monday, 30 May, 2022, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
It is the digital transformation of F&B where humans and technology work together to eventually guarantee great customer experience. In the case of GOPIZZA too, Gobot Plus', a cooperative robot that cuts pizza, sprinkles the proper sauce, and even manages it so that it doesn't cool down, and an ' AI Smart Topping' technology that manages toppings. The company grew in size exponentially with the help of this new technology, said Jaewon Lim, CEO and founder of GOPIZZA, in an interaction with Nandita Vijay. Excerpts:

How has been faring ever since your entry into the Indian market?
From one store to 15 in 18 months, we have grown 50X, in terms of monthly revenue, within the same period. Pandemic gave us a difficult time to expand but we were new to the market anyway, so we utilised that time to streamline our operations and localisation strategy. After the pandemic started to ease out from June 2022, we are growing more than 20% every month.

What are the reasons for the need of a 10th outlet in Bengaluru?
The opening of the 10th outlet in Bengaluru is to symbolise and celebrate our aggressive expansion plans in India. We believe we can open up to 100 outlets just in Bengaluru. Our 15th outlet HSR Layout is not only the latest designs and brand experience of GOPIZZA but it is also a prominent location to symbolise and celebrate our initiative in India with the customers and public.

Since you have over 120 stores in five countries including Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and recently launched in India, which are the other markets that GOPIZZA is present in the country?
Our vision is "Wherever customers want pizza, there will be GOPIZZA". We have more than 140 stores in 4 countries (excluding Japan) now. We plan to enter many South East Asian countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and so on. The reason is because pizza is a food that many emerging countries start to consume exponentially as the economy develops and young populations start to Westernise. We believe the market potential of India and other South East Asian countries are worth at least 50 billion dollars annually.

Could you detail the reason for one-person, oval shaped, fire baked pizza that you can have anytime and anywhere. How much of this USP has allowed you to grab a share of the business from the other players?
Our USP stems from our innovative pizza operations. We invented everything from dough to oven to topping table to robots. With our technology we can make pizzas faster, easier, in smaller spaces than any other competitors in the world. This lets us scale up quickly while maintaining the quality standards. For the customers, they can enjoy pizza like hamburgers. They can choose a menu they want and they can get it fast while the pizza prices are as low as 99 rupees. We are already the number 1 brand for the personal pizza market in Korea and we expect to be the number 3 pizza brand in Singapore by 2023. India is a huge market but we expect to be a top 3 pizza brand in India by 2025.

How do you view the Indian market for pizzas?
It is one of the fastest growing pizza markets in the world. Thanks to the eating habit similarities and rapid economic growth, Indians are taking pizza as their own. It is mostly dominated by a single player now but we believe there is still plenty of room for growth and for many players to enter. With our unique positioning and quick scalability, we plan to capture the growing market as fast as we can and become a pizza brand that is always in the top of mind for Indian customers.

How do you stand apart in competition and in terms of pricing where do you stand?
Pizza is usually expensive and slow because the operation of making pizza is quite difficult and labour consuming. That's why the suppliers usually made big pizzas and charged a high price because making a pizza, whether big or small, requires the same time and space and cost. By innovating how we make pizza, there is less cost, space, and labour involved in making GOPIZZA while the pizza still tastes great. That's why we can charge less to customers and not compromise in quality.

Can you tell us more about the GOVEN technology, AI Smart Topping' technology and the GOBOT Plus?
GOVEN, a patented oven just for GOPIZZA Smart Kitchen, can automatically bake an artisanal pizza in 3 minutes and more than 100 in an hour. Its temperature, over 400 degrees (C), and cooking time is regulated through IoT technology for optimal baking quality.

Coming to GOPIZZA AI, Robotics Technology, GOVIS Vision is an AI system that tracks and monitors the quality of the toppings real-time. It can classify and segmentize all types of toppings and evaluate the quality based on input recipe. GOPIZZA HQ can track every single pizza quality in real-time globally.

GOBOT Station is a pizza processing station with a collaborative robot, called GOBOT. The processing station receives the pizza from GOVEN, classifies product type (pizza / pasta / other) and recognises the exact product name, evaluates product quality, and cuts the pizza automatically. GOBOT then drizzles and powders the right sauces according to the menu. Then the pizza is kept warm within the station before it’s served to customers.

Was the technology developed in house?

Yes, all in house. More than 30% of our headquarters’ personnel specialise in R&D of many different technologies we are developing. We have GOPIZZA Future Lab (for AI and robots), GOPIZZA Parbake Innovation Center (for dough R&D and production), GOPIZZA GOVEN Tech (for GOVEN R&D and production)

During the pandemic phase of global and national lockdowns how did GOPIZZA fare?
We still managed to grow more than 5X even during the pandemic. Mostly because our stores are relatively small with low property cost and also require minimum human labour. We were light enough to survive the big waves and also very scalable so still added almost 100 stores even during pandemic.

Where do you source the ingredients of the pizza?
It depends on different markets and different ingredients, but since our dough is the core ingredient - we either export it from our Korea's Parbake Dough Innovation Center or set up a local factory of our own. We have just set up our first center in India this month. We expect to start production in May.

What are the visible trends that you see in the market globally and in India?
K-trend for sure. Being a Korean brand gives us a lot of attention and affection from the customers and we are very grateful. While our core USP is about universal functionalities such as price competitiveness, quick serving speed, and personal sized pizzas, we still try to infuse some Korean kicks to our brand in terms of menu offerings and marketing activities. We plan to launch some K-pizzas in the India market starting Q3 2022 as we feel the Korean wave is finally here too!

What are the challenges you see in the Indian and global market for selling pizzas?  

There will be challenges always in operation because the more stores, the more menus, the countries you have, the harder it is to maintain the same standard everywhere. That's why we are investing more in various technologies to monitor and maintain the same quality real time in all the markets we are in. We believe that's the future and true digital transformation of F&B where humans and technology work together to eventually guarantee great customer experience.
 
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