Online food delivery segment hungry for growth

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Online food delivery segment hungry for growth
The proper use of online platforms will help food establishments to manage expectations of and create more transparency for customers.

Dubai - A lot of technology is available to restaurants to plan strategies and do better

By Alvin R. Cabral

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Published: Wed 2 May 2018, 10:06 PM

Last updated: Thu 3 May 2018, 10:07 PM

Smartphone users are increasingly finding food-delivery apps a convenient way to satisfy their taste buds, and while overall acceptance is growing, there are certain challenges that still need to be addressed, a panel discussed in Dubai.
"A lot of technology is available to plan [strategies] and allow restaurants to do better," Toon Gyssels, chief operating officer of online food delivery service Talabat, said.
These also help "manage expectations of and create more transparency for customers", he added.
Gyssels was speaking at the company's 'Open Day', which discussed and debated issues related to the industry in the Middle East.
The online food delivery industry is gaining traction. Analysts from professional services firm KPMG, who were also present at the event, says that in their recent study in the region, 60 per cent of smartphone users have a food-related app on their devices, and 50 per cent of this use it to order online.
Two years ago, it added, the main purpose of the app was for other reasons, including searching for a restaurant's location or reading reviews about it.
"The importance of food apps is really driving the [F&B] sector," Anurag Bajpai, partner and head of retail at KPMG, said.
And it's not just because of delivery: most food apps give information on establishments, such as reviews and ratings, which is also a key component of the innovation.
He added, though, that spreading information about a certain establishment by word-of-mouth is "still the No.1 influencer", and that apps complement this very well when users check them out on them.
"More people are looking for restaurants that deliver," Khaled Odeh, business development manager of Brocolli Pizza and Pasta, said at the event.
He was joined at the panel by Othman Shaker, operations head of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.
That's not to say that they are lazy; it has more to do with, mostly, the region's climate, especially in the summer months.
"So instead of going out, they prefer to have it delivered where they are most convenient," he added.
And with smartphones now a commodity, apps are now a way for customers to believe and trust in online delivery methods.
And while going online does indeed give customers more choices, it can also build the reputation of brands when it comes to delivery services.
The challenges, meanwhile, range from ensuring the standards of food to the proper training of restaurants' delivery drivers/riders.
An establishment's reputation mainly hinges on the quality of the food and its delivery speed. It's also important that customers need to be informed of certain circumstances - for example, bulk orders can take more time to prepare, which would mean a delay in delivery - in such a manner they'd understand the situation, and not be upset if items arrive later than indicated.
Meanwhile, managing a restaurant's delivery fleet is equally important. A good number of establishments enlist of third-party services to handle deliveries; challenges range from lack of product knowledge, the language barrier and difficulty of delivering to certain locations.
Those on the panel agreed that while it is ideal to manage an in-house fleet, the proper training for delivery staff is essential in complementing the overall service.

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