Online food aggregators delivering healthy business to restaurants

Sayan Chakraborty Posted online: Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 at 0000 hrs
Bangalore : At a time when businesses are increasingly looking towards e-platforms to set their revenue turnstiles spinning, food aggregators are playing facilitators for restaurants and other food service providers to tap customers online. The $48-billion Indian restaurant market, which is expected to double by 2020, has witnessed the emergence of players like JustEat.in, FoodPanda.in, DeliveryChef.in and Tasty-Khana.in, among others, which let users choose from listed eateries, check prices and place orders online, or through mobile apps.

It’s a win-win situation for both. While foodies find a host of eateries to choose from and bypass the bother of placing an order in person or over the phone, restaurants, especially in the quick-service category, bolster sales without investing much on infrastructure and manpower.

Despite most restaurants having their individual mechanisms to accept orders, the online food aggregators are confident that they are going to board the gravy train sooner or later. As per Ritesh Dwivedi, co-founder of Bangalore-based aggregator JustEat.in, the portal has tied up with 2,500 restaurants across the country. It clocked half a million orders in 2013. “We grew by almost 50-70% last year in terms of transactions,” Dwivedi told FE.

Its cross-country rival, Delhi-based FoodPanda.in, claims to have around 3,000 restaurants across 15 cities in its kitty. It has 50,000-70,000 unique visitors to its website daily and aims to reach out to 10,000 restaurants in the next two years, said Rohit Chadda, co-founder, FoodPanda.in.

Driven by a surge in the number of smartphone users in the country, JustEat.in and FoodPanda.in have launched mobile apps and are trying to ramp up their technological capabilities.

While FoodPanda.in gets nearly one-fourth of the total orders through mobile phones, JustEat.in draws around one-tenth of its orders through its app.

Besides, they monitor customer feedback on eateries and even de-list non-performers.

“FoodPanda.in has de-listed around 1,000 such restaurants,” said Chadda.

However, once the restaurants gain scale and traction, the aggregators cease to play a significant role in generating business. Revant Bhate, co-founder of Faasos, a QSR having 70 outlets in Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune, said: “For a restaurant with three to four outlets, if you get featured on a website which gets around 2,00,000 hits, it helps a lot. But, not much for larger chains. For us, we look at it from an incremental revenue aspect.”

For Faasos, orders drawn from three aggregators account for around 7% of its revenue. Bhate said the QSR has invested heavily in augmenting technological capabilities and developed its own payment gateway system and mobile app, which makes aggregators more or less redundant for the chain. “But the market is huge and the aggregators have a very good chance,” he said.

Aarushi Vaish, director of Delhi-based Happy Hakka, is hopeful of leveraging the services offered by aggregators. She said her one-year-old venture draws around 2.5-3% of its revenues from orders drawn through FoodPanda.in. For all the services rendered, she is charged around one-tenth of the order amount.

“FoodPanda promotes your brand well. Quantity of business depends on which page your restaurant is featured. It largely depends on the number of hits, customer reviews, etc,” Vaish said.

According to management consulting firm Technopak, chained restaurants are expected to grow from $2.5 billion in 2013 to $8 billion in 2020, which gives the aggregators ample space to grow. “This is an evolving space. What we have seen is one or two players becoming big. As customers have multiple sources of getting information, internet has to first become a habit for them to grow,” said Ankur Bisen, senior vice-president, retail and consumer products, Technopak.