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Food Delivery At The Tap Of A Button

Technology is helping restaurants and chefs cater to online food delivery through dark kitchens or cloud kitchens

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One of the characteristics of modern day living is the ever-increasing pace at which we all function. As a result, convenience and customization has become the norm, be it for shopping, streaming favourite shows or even ordering food online. Today, we want almost everything at the tap of a button, boosting the emergence of innovative products and services.

The food delivery industry has not been distant to this growing need. Powered by technology, innovation and data, online food-delivery platforms are expanding choice and convenience, allowing customers to order from a wide array of restaurants with a single tap on their mobile phones. Now, instead of picking up the phone or wondering "where's my pizza?" people across the globe are not just ordering food but also tracking it real-time. In most cases, technology is making it easier for them to even plan and schedule their orders, days in advance.

The food delivery business is a $15 billion industry in India, witnessing a 10% year-on-year growth. Our research shows that, 3 in 5 of the online population ordered food to be delivered in the past month. We expect this to grow significantly over the next few years as most people choose food delivery due to a mix of emotional triggers (food craving or they didn't want to cook) and functional triggers (convenience and speed). It's also interesting to note that consumers care about several factors while getting food delivered like quality, on-time delivery, menu variety, accuracy of order, ease of ordering and customer service. However, punctuality emerged as the most essential criteria, as 87% think only a 10-minute delay is acceptable.

If all these demands need to be met seamlessly, traditional methods of calling the pizza place down the street or getting Chinese takeout late at night will not be the most viable option. With technology, food can now be delivered wherever and whenever people want it. Bringing to life the convenience, reliability and selection at the touch of a button, a three-sided marketplace is required to succeed in this business. To satisfy the needs of restaurants, consumers, and delivery partners alike, state-of-the art technologies are at play to make the entire experience magical.  

For instance, the challenge that comes with lots of selection is balancing choice with ease of ordering. As more restaurants are added to the selection, we need to make sure consumers can use the app with ease. Hence, machine learning is used to help surface recommendations in carousels that pop up every time they open the app, like go-tos, 30 minute delivery based on past orders and contextual information like time of day and delivery location. So, the UberEATS app may look different for every consumer.

In addition to helping restaurants grow their customer base with efficient and reliable delivery, app-based delivery services like ours are able to provide actionable data and tools to control order flow, manage menus, and improve exposure. UberEATS recently launched the Restaurant Manager Tool to empower restaurant partners make data-driven decisions. Restaurants around the globe--from San Francisco to Singapore-- have identified the same problem: it has always been difficult to figure out what customers actually think about their meals and service. Now, restaurants will have access to insights about their service quality, customer satisfaction, and sales in addition to the tools to make specific adjustments to improve their business.

Finally, the order delivery needs to be a hassle-free experience. Parking and picking up from restaurants is a highly variable experience based on the location and configuration of the restaurant. In order to make this less of a guessing game, technology has enabled in-app features like the step-by-step pick-up instruction functionality. This also allows us to gather granular pick-up information for the most difficult-to-navigate restaurants and pass that along to delivery partners, so they can quickly and easily locate the order.

The future of food will look very different from what it is today. Technology is helping restaurants and chefs cater to online food delivery through dark kitchens or cloud kitchens. The concept is catching up in India with players moving from customer front locations to cloud kitchens. The app takes over the role of a restaurant staff/manager - it displays the menu, receives the order, processes it and ensures its delivered. All this right at your fingertips. At the end of the day, the data collected through these orders helps them even determine customer preferences, decide the menu, evaluate performance and the even understand the customer's willingness to spend on each order.  

This is just the beginning of a smarter food delivery industry. Technology will soon help us re-imagine the 'farm to plate' value chain, thereby reducing spoilage, improving efficiencies and earning potential of farmers.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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food Food Delivery food delivery industry opinion

Bhavik Rathod

The author is Head of UberEATS India

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