Zomato to get 'food-delivery' feature by mid-March: Here's how it will work

Zomato, which recently announced a cashless facility for users in Dubai at select restaurants, is planning to launch a new service which will let customers in India order directly from the app/site.

Shruti Dhapola February 13, 2015 12:14:20 IST
Zomato to get 'food-delivery' feature by mid-March: Here's how it will work

Zomato, which recently announced a cashless facility for users in Dubai at select restaurants, is planning to launch a new service which will let customers in India order directly from the app/site. Zomato's CEO Deepinder Goyal told TechCrunch that they hope to reach 10,000 supported restaurants nationwide within a few months of rolling out the service.

In an email to Firstpost, a spokesperson for Zomato said that currently the feature is in a pilot mode and will go live in Delhi first by mid-March. The Delhi release will be followed by Bangalore and Mumbai getting the feature and then later to other cities. Zomato will launch the service with 2,000 restaurant partners in the beginning.

So how will the food-ordering service work? According to the company, the app will become a platform for users to select their dishes and then order their meal online. Payment will be via cash on delivery. The catch is that the restaurant will have to "manually accept each order from a user before it is processed" unlike other services which handle orders themselves.

According to the TechCrunch report, Zomato's feature is more like "Uber for food". Like Uber provides a driver with a phone with the app installed, Zomato will provide iPads with the app installed to the partner restaurant, notes the report. The app will be like a "order hotline" and users can also rate restaurants on their "delivery acceptance rates" as well, notes the report.

Zomato to get fooddelivery feature by midMarch Heres how it will work

Deepinder Goyal of Zomato

But like in the case of Uber drivers who might not take a particular request, there is a chance that the restaurant might be unavailable to take your order.

Additionally Zomato reflects ratings next to the restaurant profile and their order acceptance rate as well, so that users know which places are prompt in handling these requests. Zomato has not decided yet the exact fee it will charge restaurants, says the TechCrunch report.

"As a product, we want to own the communication channel between consumers and businesses. We hope that when users want to communicate with a restaurant for restaurant discovery, for booking a table, for ordering delivery they use Zomato to do it. With this feature we are moving a step closer to integrating everything on one platform. We will have to do this market-by-market and will have to do it patiently," Goyal said in a email response to Firstpost.

The company is hoping to process around 40,000 orders a day once the service is fully operational and says that they have nearly 400,000 people who visit their India section presently. The service will expand to with Dubai, Jakarta, Manila and Sydney in the coming months as well.

The company is hoping to double its revenue with the introduction of such service.  The food-ordering feature, even though it is not like the one that say FoodPanda offers, is a big change for Zomato.

In an earlier interview with Firstpost, CEO Goyal had said that the USP of the site was helping people find restaurants. He had said, "We have just one aim: to help people find better restaurants and we do that very well. All the other players like Yelp are trying to get into a lot of verticals on the same platform. We stick to restaurants and that is what our USP will be."

Technically Zomato hasn't changed its strategy as the company is only "facilitating the process of online ordering as a tech platform as the logistics of the delivery is still handled by the restaurants." Unlike say rival FoodPanda which allows users to order online and even offers discounts or coupons, Zomato is merely letting you alert the restaurant from within the app. It's taking no responsibility if your order doesn't turn up, isn't accepted or comes up half an hour late. FoodPanda on the other hand is primarily focused on delivery.

But a lot of this might not be clear for users. While big restaurant franchises like a Dominos or Pizza Hut that have established delivery chains might ensure smooth delivery, smaller restaurants may find it harder to achieve entirely glitch-free deliveries. Also users won't just see Zomato as 'tech platform' for deliveries. In case of a mix-up, they are likely to blame not just the restaurant but the app as well which might be a great thing for the brand.

Zomato has been the number one app in India when it comes restaurant search and has been growing in a big way. It recently acquired US-based food app Urbanspoon allowing it to enter the United States and in Australia and Canada, while adding to its already dominant position in United Kingdom and New Zealand. The company also pretty much spent its entire last round of funding on this acquisition (the company had raised $60 million in November and the deal reportedly cost $60 million). Post the acquisition Zomato hopes that least 60 percent of its traffic will now come from the US and it will also boost its restaurant listings to one million. Zomato is now present in 22 countries across the world.

With the new food-delivering feature and the cashless feature in Dubai, Zomato is trying to expand on what services it can offer to users. This is something that the app needs to do to reach the next level of growth. In case of the food-delivery market, the success of Zomato's service will depend on how well it can ensure that restaurants  don't falter, something that might not be so easy in India just yet.

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