Gaps that the tech restaurants could plug

My previous post confused some of the readers. Hence I am elaborating the various value propositions that any tech enabled online restaurant aggregator portal should address.

  1. Microsite & online presence: Most restaurants don’t have an online presence. Newspaper inserts and banners also are losing relevance making customer acquisition a problem. Linking with maps & online increases the reach & accessibility to new customers
  2. Delivery time: Most people order food when they are hungry. Hence making them wait makes them only restless & less appreciative of the food. Also small restaurants don’t have enough delivery staff and often tend to club 2-3 orders from the same locality before dispatch. Efficiencies, promptness and tracking are basic hygiene factors needed.
  3. Packaging & presentation: It is common to see food packed in newspaper. Hot cases are rarely used by delivery to ensure that food does not get cold & soggy in transit. Most small restaurant owners are not trained in latest culinary skills. Also they don’t understand that food is first enjoyed by the eye, then the nose and only then does the tongue/taste comes into picture.
  4. Payment: Credit card payments & printed bills are a luxury in India. So I am hoping you get the idea.
  5. Feedback & quality: The chef, owner, order taker and delivery person are different and often don’t interact much (even though they work in the same establishment)
  6. High operating costs: With high rentals, salaries, establishment/license cost, equipment, fitting etc. make restaurants a high risk venture due to the fixed costs. Any portal giving a minimum volume (100 plates per day) or buying during lean hours (say weekday lunch for a restaurant in a shopping complex or a weekend meal for one in business area) will be an immediate hit for the owners. If these volume discounts are passed on to the customers, then they will also be delighted.
  7. Real estate: Getting a prime real-estate is key to any successful restaurant, but its rental cripples most owners. Online delivery can enable reducing the prices by catering from kitchens set-up at homes or in not so expensive places.
  8. Phone numbers: Firstly it is impossible to ensure that all potential customers have your phone number handy. Secondly, in a land of 100 languages, communicating ordering, cooking instructions & delivery address is a challenge.
  9. Food Court: Typically when buddies gang up, they take poll to choose the cuisine and then select the restaurant. Net result specialty restaurants like Italian, Thai etc. often don’t get the required majority and multi-cuisine restaurants flourish. Can the online websites create a mini-food-court for me allowing me to order 1 italian dish, 1 thai, 1 biriyani & 1 tandoori Chicken without worrying about minimum order size from each of the 4 individual restaurants.
  10. Add-ons: Can we add Pan (beetle leaf), ice-creams, juices, chaats to the order. Things that we like to order when we eat out, but don’t constitute part of a typical home delivery.
  11. Loyalty programs & couponing: Most mom&pop stores don’t have a formal well defined mechanism for these.
  12. Segregation & variable pricing: Many restaurants charge a lower rate for students and higher for office delivery. However tech-portals have better online identity management system and should enable me to charge a lower rate to new-customers or people outside my immediate catchment area… without any threat of that price being revealed to my main customers.

Online food ordering industry,, are few of the names of online food ordering companies that operate out of Bangalore. However these names make me wonder:

What is the USP of these companies?

What is the service that they provide?

How do they make money?

What hooks they have to ensure that they are irreplaceable?

Can they ever be profitable?

To me a food delivery ecosystem has the following elements

  1. Customers: Without a market no business model reach
  2. Order taking: Includes ability to influence user behavior by switching restaurants, trying out new food items
  3. Chef: Ability to actually cook food in time
  4. Delivery & logistics (including reverse logistics of a wrong order, item missed etc.)
  5. Billing & promotions
  6. Feedback & customer delight

All the 3 websites that I mentioned are giving 50% off on billing to attract the crowd, but the question is what is the unique thing they are doing? Attracting crowd via discounting is neither sustainable nor builds us the right customer expectations.

Food delivery is really in infancy in India. Basic elements like packaging, warming the food, On-Time delivery or Customer satisfaction is too much to expect. The tech-geeks with their online models could do a lot, but I am still struggling to find one that has done anything commendable. Do you know of any such website?

Tomorrow: What are the gaps and how can they be bridged.


Credit Card theft

A friend of mine was a victim of online credit card. Someone used his credit card information to purchase airline tickets online.

This is the advice I gave him.
1. Call the Credit Card Company and block the Credit Card: After verification this process should take 30 seconds and no credit card company can legally ask you questions or try to sway your mind.
2. Then ask them to email/courier you the Credit Card Fraud Form and try to gather as much information as possible about that transaction. (There was one case in which on my ad-on card, my brother made a transaction that he had no recollection of. Hence querying of such details can prevent any such embarrassment)
3. Many good credit cards have a in build fraud protection insurance/scheme. Check the website/documents of any such scheme.
4. Check with the merchant. Usually they help willingly. However if they show reluctance, threaten then with a Credit Card Dispute.
According to investopeida
” This law allows consumers to withhold payment on poor-quality, damaged merchandise or incorrectly billed items they bought with a credit card until the matter is resolved. ”
Basically any merchant understands that once a dispute is called, he would have to spend a lot of time in documentation and legal hassles. Whats worse is that the Credit Card Company will charge the merchant for all the processes at its end and might even blacklist the merchant.
There is often a chance that the merchandise was not shipped, or the travel not made. In those cases timely action limits the damage caused and might also help in nabbing the culprit.
5. Deduct the wrong transaction and Clear all the remaining credit card outstanding, billed and unbilled. This demonstrates the genuineness of your intention and helps to sway the authorities to give a ruling in your favor.