“If there is no food you like, you can make an order” — the manager of Sushi Express
I felt a little bit unhappy when the manager told me so. I came here because I wanted to have peace of mind without bothering by work. Now you asked me to think about what to eat after a long day. When he was asking, I already grabbed 5 dishes. I just left after a while. The manager was very polite but he messed up the game. (Nonetheless, he was a good restaurant manager because he was so observant for the customers)
When working late on Saturday night, I will occasionally have a quick dinner at Sushi Express (SE). SE is a very popular chain store in Hong Kong. Every day, there is a very long queue till 8 – 9 pm. The sushi is cheap but the quality is not bad. I like the sushi but the business model is more fascinating than the products. As a digital product manager & developer, I am thinking to create a product with a similar mechanism, maybe for e-commerce such as a flash selling website for the physical or digital products. Not sure what’s gonna to gain traction.
But SE definitely teaches me a good lesson on how to create a new market from the crowded.
6 lessons learned from Sushi Express
There is always a time limit for the products
When the sushi is turning around, they will appear after a short time. If you don’t take it, it will be picked by the later customers. You need to make a decision within a short time. Otherwise, you’ll miss the chance. It successfully creates a sense of shortage.
You will see random products constantly
There is a variety of sushi offered by SE. Sometimes, there will be coke, soup, dessert. Basically, they will just put what you like on the delivery belt. Besides, there will be a seasonal offering every 1 – 2 weeks. SE always tries to create a surprise for you. A traditional Japanese restaurant will never do this for you. The best thing is you never need to scroll the delivery belt like scrolling Facebook newsfeed. Just sit down and pick up.
You don’t need to think about the next dish with your conscious mind
As the sushi master will consider what to refill on the delivery belt, you won’t bother to order. I don’t like to order because I am too lazy after a long day of work. I know I like sushi. You’ll try to offer what I want in this category. Yes, consumers are lazy.
You’re constantly competing with other customers
If you don’t take the sushi off the belt, it will be taken by another customer soon. You will not feel good when the previous customer takes your favorite food in front of you, though you know you can make an order.
No price consideration. Same price for all products
In Hong Kong, all sushi is selling at HK$8 (~US$1) per dish. There is usually 2 sushi on a dish. Just like the penny store. It can effectively reduce your friction during the purchase process because you don’t need to consider which sushi is expensive than another. From the operation point of view, it can also help the manager easily settle the bill in a minute. Who is the genius coming up with this idea?
Make sushi like McDonald Hamburgers
Instead of a restaurant, it looks like a retail store selling food. The fast food model is similar to the McDonald’s. You come in to get what you like and you’ll leave in a few minutes. Before SE, you will go to a Japanese restaurant. Sit at a decent table. Make order and wait for a while. The market is completely dominated by the high-end Japanese restaurant, at least in Hong Kong. SE totally disrupts the high-end sushi market by creating a whole new affordable sushi market. The business is targeting the general public, which is a blue ocean. Each customer will eat around 8 – 15 dishes. There are very few competitors till now. It proves that even a highly competitive market, you can always differentiate yourself by new service model.
What Do You Think About The Idea?
Do you like my thoughts or my latest startup idea? Feel free to leave your comment below! I would be happy to hear from you 🙂