Technology in F&B and Reaching Customers the Digital Way


Technology has been a big help in making online businesses more well-known than ever.

BAHDigital recently interviewed three online Food and Beverage (F&B) business owners, who spoke about how technology has helped them to grow, the challenges they face and what their goals are. Their interview answers will be combined in this article, and we will also suggest several apps that may help you if you are looking to start your own entrepreneurial journey as well.

Introduce yourself and your business. What inspired you to start it?

SABRINA: My name is Sabrina and Rose Duvera (@rose.duvera) sells traditional “kek batik” with a fun twist to fit modern trends.

I’ve always loved seeing people bake stuff on TV or at the bakery, I guess I wanted to see if they were doable!



FADHIL: I’m Muhammad Fadhil Abu Bakar, and I’m the person behind Coffee with Dillan (@coffeewithdillan). It started as a training ground for people interested in barista work and training. But due to Covid-19, I stopped all training sessions for now, and slowly expanded into baked goods like cookies and cheesecake.

The inspiration behind my business came from my passion for coffee, which grew when I was working in Australia. I also have hopes to bring a new perspective and appreciation for coffee among Bruneians.


AZRIN: I’m Azrin and I run Olie’s Cafe (@oliescafe), which serves specialty coffee, desserts as well as hot meals. The concept of the cafe is sugar-free, keto-friendly while providing a modern and sleek ambience.

I was inspired by various aspects of my life, from my passion for cooking, my ketogenic lifestyle, and my hobby of hanging out at cafes that have a nice ambience and good coffee.

Running a business with passion and expectations

Businesses and commercial projects often begin because there is a need for them to serve the community. The F&B sector, in particular, sees countless of these businesses, limited only by one’s creativity and available resources. However, they are also powered by the passion behind said endeavours, as seen from our interviewees.

With the current global situation, there has also been a need to discover new ways to continue running a business, while managing expectations from both customers and yourself as a business owner as well.

How has technology helped you to grow your business?

SABRINA: Before, I would buy ingredients without thinking of the cost, but lately I’ve been noting them down on Excel spreadsheets and my phone’s Notes app that helps me keep track of how much I’ve used, as well as making price comparisons.


FADHIL: I keep the cost for my business down by doing the accounts on Excel, and using the Google Calendar app to keep tabs on my training sessions.

By doing research online, I also found cheaper ingredients and discovered resources to help manage the cost through other methods of training.


AZRIN: When we first started the business, we thought of placing ads on big banners and on the streets, but that would cost a lot of money. Instead, our customers discovered us through social media and paid online advertisements.

I also use websites such as Lazada and Alibaba to reach out to external suppliers, and then Whatsapp and email to meet with manufacturers and suppliers virtually.


Let’s Learn #1: Useful apps for your business

Managing inventory with Sortly

Aside from using Excel spreadsheets, here are also some apps that might help you manage day-to-day tasks that come with running your business, or even for regular daily activities.

The Sortly inventory management app gives you the best of both worlds. With Sortly, you can maintain your catalog with custom notes and tags, look up barcodes, and use the built-in scanner—all as part of the free version of the software.

Easily create and complete with Trello

If you’re managing more than a few employees and need to implement larger, more complicated processes, Trello is a good option.

This card-based system lets you easily create, assign, monitor, update, and complete different tasks—it’s a great way to make sure everyone is as productive and efficient as possible. Plus, Trello integrates with other small business apps like Evernote, Slack, and more.

Evernote and writing on the move

Evernote can help you capture and remember all the brilliant ideas you come up with while on the move. It’s available on multiple platforms and allows you to store your ideas by voice, text, or photo. You can search your notes by keywords and tags.

Stay on track with My Minutes and OmniFocus

Top image: MyMinutes, Bottom image: OmniFocus

Writing down one’s tasks is only the first step — staying focused is another. There are apps that can ground and keep you on track such as My Minutes and OmniFocus, which are personal task managers that allow you to create projects and tasks to organize into to-do lists; My Minutes also has a goal setting feature that lets you set a timer on each goal, such as “Spend one hour checking emails”.

Aside from tracking your tasks, there are also other apps that can help you track the profiles of those who have liked your posts on social media, to better gauge your customer reach.

Keeping your engagement rate high

Engagement is a huge buzzword for organisations on social media, and the higher your engagement rate is with your current customers, the more likely you are to appear to a wider reach of potential customers. One way to ensure this is by staying active on social media, by using applications to upload your posts and story updates during a certain period of time when people are most likely to be checking their social media feeds.

Manage your business’ finances with QuickBooks and Wave

Top image: QuickBooks, Bottom image: Wave

While it is important to ensure that your online presence holds steady, managing your business’ financial health will take a significant amount of time and effort on your part. Thankfully, there are apps that can help.

Applications like QuickBooks and Wave have accounting software to track your business’ sales and expenses, manage invoices and payments, and give accounting reports.

Is it easier to reach customers now with technology?

SABRINA: Technology has also helped me gain recognition by promoting my products to more people, and providing better customer service too.

FADHIL: It has helped me to reach out to customers and easily connect with them, while promoting my content.

AZRIN: Yes, we have not printed a single banner, leaflets and brochures, but our customers discovered us online and we can also target specific audiences.



Let’s Learn #2: Taking customer service from faces to texts

With the number of applications available for the sole purpose of connecting with others, it can be a little daunting to decide on one single platform. Thankfully, a couple of those apps already exist in our phone.

WhatsApp or Telegram are definite must-haves in every mobile phone, and the group chat feature is a great tool for collaboration with other like-minded individuals, or even to keep track of your contacts with customers.

Google Meet also allows people to safely create and join high high-quality video meetings to connect and collaborate with others.

What challenges do you face?

SABRINA: It’s difficult to reach out to the audiences that are still not able to accept technology as a new means of business and communication. But since more people are inclined to accept these changes, hopefully we will see more people use technology.

FADHIL: It doesn’t really offer the human connection a face to face conversation has, and my business is mainly hands on training. But this also gives me an opportunity to improve myself, maybe by doing these courses online once the technology to do virtual reality training sessions is available.

AZRIN: The companies that I get my products from are often difficult to reach as they don’t have a website and accessible e-catalogues. It’s also hard to reach them without getting their contacts from another contact.


New means of communication

Despite the widespread use of technology in our daily lives, there are still some who may not be keen enough to embrace the changes that e-commerce might bring. There are people who would still prefer to go to a physical store instead of looking up a shop online.

However, it would undoubtedly be more convenient in the long-run to adopt these new means of communication not only for client and customer interaction, but also for client and supplier to better understand and connect with each other. While Fadhil has expressed the novelty of using virtual reality for training sessions, that technology can perhaps also be utilised for other avenues, such as product demonstrations, further enhancing communications all around.

What do you hope to achieve?

SABRINA: I want to reach more people and gain more customers, as technology and the Internet is easily accessible to many.

FADHIL: For myself, I would like to be an authorised Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) coffee trainer, bringing Brunei onto the Coffee Map. I also want to be able to offer online training for businesses in the future for those looking to upskill.

AZRIN: Definitely to continue to grow, improve and expand. We would love to have a website for customers to get to know us more as well as to order online.


Steps towards your business goals

The most common goal for most business owners is ultimately to gain profit and maximise their reach, but this means they need to start looking at more platforms beyond the ones that house their businesses that can help them achieve this. To do that, they should make it easier than ever for customers to find them, such as increasing their online presence.

This can be done through collaborations with other business owners to increase their reach towards potential customers, or even clever marketing that not only emphasises the features that their organisation offers, but also how it can enrich the lives of others.

What advice would you give to other businesses who are hesitant to adopt technology?

SABRINA: Take the risk and see that technology can help to grow and make your business more efficient! Think about the long-term. As everything will eventually go digital, your audience will also be there digitally to search your business online rather than going to a physical store.

FADHIL: Do not be afraid to venture into technology. There is a learning curve, but it will help the business to be more efficient and effective. It may also reduce your cost in the long run.

Start slowly and adapt to what you are capable of. We are all learning. Our current situation also serves as a great motivator to pursue a more technologically advanced business.

AZRIN: Businesses should explore technological advancements and give them a try. Most people are on their phones these days and rely on Google to learn the smallest things, so you can help them to find your business and learn about your products with all of it at the tip of their fingers.


Let’s Learn #3: Resources to help pave the way forward

Adopting new technology is a rather clear way forward in a world that has become more open than ever before to accepting digital solutions to our needs and problems. However, while resources are aplenty online, it can be somewhat difficult to navigate them and decide on a starting point.

Thankfully, we can start by looking at several platforms that help condense these resources into easy-to-learn courses to better equip ourselves as budding entrepreneurs to upskill ourselves and learn to adapt to the growing technology.

Skillshare: Upskilling on a budget

Skillshare offers thousands of online courses that range fro m nutrition, crafts to personal fitness and health. These lessons often give a simple and easily understandable overview on a subject, and as the courses tend to be short, they are good if you need time to adopt these lessons into your own endeavours.

Masterclass: Premium courses by renowned names

While Skillshare is more open with its tutoring system, Masterclass is named so because its platform offers courses that are exclusively taught by heavyweight names in their various industries. Helen Mirren, Ron Howard and Neil Gaiman are some of the most well-known names in their fields of work — while the platform does skew more towards art and entertainment, they have added more variety, such as the nutrition section which sees the likes of Michelin-star chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Thomas Keller and Dominique Ansel.

A new reality in e-commerce

As the world becomes increasingly digitized, we will experience new norms in e-commerce, whether that is through small businesses or large corporations. Buying and selling products will become more streamlined.

Adopting technology has benefits in the long run, but it is up to both business owners and customers to accept the opportunities it offers.

What are some ways you hope to see F&B businesses and other sectors advance technologically? Share your stories with us through our social media or reach us at our email.