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The Growth of Food Delivery Industry and How To Get The Biggest Share of The Pie

Thanks to the food delivery apps, you can now get your favourite burger delivered to your doorstep from your choice of restaurant in town. Online food delivery platforms are expanding choice and convenience along with great deals and discounts, allowing customers to order from a wide array of restaurants with a single tap of their mobile phone. As a result, the food delivery business is fast catching up across markets of America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

According to “Online Food Delivery Services Global Market Report 2020-30”, the global online food delivery services market is expected to grow from USD111.32 billion in 2020 at a growth rate of 3.61%. However, 2020’s growth slump is mainly due to the economic slowdown across countries owing to the pandemic outbreak and the measures to contain it. The market is still expected to grow and reach USD154.34 billion in 2023 at CAGR of 11.51%.

The food delivery market in the US is mainly driven by a hectic work schedule and high-income levels of professionals who hardly get time to prepare their meals at home. As per Statista, online food delivery segment’s revenue is projected to reach USD 28.48 billion in 2021 with an annual growth rate of 4.3% (CAGR 2021-2024). At a global level, China will generate almost USD 56.93 billion in revenue, that almost double that of the USA.

What is a food delivery service and how it works?

Food delivery has now become an integral part of the urban lifestyle. And that’s why almost the entire day those delivery agents can be seen riding their bikes, carrying the orders, sporting their company T-shirt and a cap. It is observed that one-third of Americans order food online at least twice a week. 

Food delivery service is somewhat similar to courier service in which the ordered food is delivered from the restaurant to the customer either by the restaurant’s staff or by delivery agents of a food ordering company. This obviously depends on the medium through which a customer places his/her order. Orders can be placed over a call, mobile apps and through web-portals of a restaurant directly, or through restaurant aggregator apps. Often a flat delivery fee is charged to the customer and at times even that is waived off, depending on the order volume. Post pandemic outbreak, contactless delivery has come into practice nowadays. Food delivery service might also include delivering groceries from the supermarket. Technological interventions have further made food delivery services prompt and quick, keeping customers happy and loyal.

Food delivery businesses follow several models, depending on the objective it varies from company to company. But the priority is to deliver freshly prepared food faster and safer. Given below are a few popular models of food delivery services that are in practice.

1) Platform to Customer Model
In this model, third-party apps throw up a list of available restaurants in close proximity to the customer’s location. Customers are free to order from these partner restaurants and get the food delivered either by the restaurant or a delivery agent of the platform. Apps such as DoorDash, UberEats, and Deliveroo are perfect examples that follow this delivery model. Generally, these platforms take a 20-30% cut from the order value on the top potential delivery cost that may arise. This mode of food delivery business accounts for almost half of the $122 billion that is generated in sales per year.

2) Aggregators
This model can be classified as one of the types from the previous model, however, it is worth mentioning separately. A delivery service aggregator acts as an intermediary between a customer and several local restaurants. Additionally, they offer customer support on behalf of the restaurants in case there’s an issue with the delivery or the order. JustEat, Delivery Hero, and GrubHub are some of the existing players. These platforms charge a fixed fee on every successful transaction facilitated or even prompts for a monthly subscription. 

3) Full-Stack Model
In this scenario, the food delivery business does everything all by themselves. Right from developing the app to hiring delivery staffs and cooking the food in-house, every operation is carried out `by them. Mostly the food is prepared in cloud kitchens, where dining facility isn’t there. However, this model needs substantial investments to launch the platform. On the contrary, once sufficient scale is achieved, full-stack food delivery platforms eventually earn more as they control the whole value chain. They can control the food quality as everything is cooked in-house.

4) Restaurant to Consumer Model
McD, BurgerKing, and Domino’s are some of the biggest examples of this business model. These companies offer food deliveries to their customers through their websites or app to certain specific regions. And through partners like DoorDash, Zomato to deliver food to regions where they don’t serve themselves. 

Types of Food Delivery Services

With a surge in demand, food delivery services globally have now been under the spotlight. From winning customers to understanding them, a paradigm shift in the approach of food delivery services is also underway. Understanding those four distinct types of food delivery services hence is essential.

1) Restaurant Prepared Food Delivery
This is a kind of on-demand delivery service that has disrupted the traditional market. Social media mentions of such delivery services have skyrocketed in recent times, more so due to COVID19 outbreak. Three basic components of a meal experience – ordering, cooking and delivering are managed. While few handles all the three basic operations, most are into accepting orders, passing it on to partner restaurants and then delivering it to the customers. Companies like JustEat, GrubHub, FoodPanda have partnered with restaurants and then deliver the food to the customers. Whereas fast food chains like PizzaHut, Domino’s McD do it all by themselves or even engage third-party apps to receive orders and get it delivered.

2) Meal Kits Delivery
Companies like Blue Apron, Freshly are catering to this segment. Expected to reach USD 20 billion by 2027 as per Grand View Research, this is mainly opted by busy and overworked families. Meal kit offerings have two options – heat and eat, cook and eat. Fresh, healthy, relatable meals can only resonate with customers who mostly face slot delivery issues currently.

3) Grocery Delivery
Grocery delivery business has seen a sudden spike during the pandemic and will continue with its growth in the next couple of years. Mostly the business starts with either a web portal or app and delivers groceries to the customers from a warehouse or offline store where the items are stocked. At times, an online grocery marketplace is created by joining hands with few local grocery producers/retailers who would eventually use the platform to sell their products on the marketplace. Companies like Peapod and Instacart are mainly leading the segment.

4) Veggie Box Delivery
Vegetable box subscriptions are on the rise nowadays. These can range from Community-Shared Agriculture boxes (CSA boxes) to corporate equivalent which are branded boxes of vegetables and fruits. During the lockdown months, over 500 British vegetable box providers, with waiting lists ranging from 160 to 6,700 customers, delivered 3.5 million boxes of fresh produce to homes, that’s more than double their usual sales. Popular UK vegetable box suppliers, such as Farmdrop and Riverford, had to introduce online queues due to surged demands. The USA based Farmers Box and Misfits Market also registered large spikes in their sales of veg boxes during the pandemic outbreak. 

Key Food Delivery Challenges

With more and more customers opting for ordering food online, the evolving market
place is rapidly becoming very competitive and challenging. Identifying these challenges and addressing them aptly will help businesses stay afloat. Let’s take a look at those critical challenges faced by the current players in food delivery space.

1. The Shift in Customer Preferences
Increasing the market share by offering the best possible value to customers at the best possible cost should be the main focus of the food delivery business. The existing players have elevated the marketing game to such a level that customers are spoilt for choice even as competition is northbound, thereby making customer base unstable and affecting brand loyalty. In pursuit of controlling customer attrition, food delivery businesses are deploying marketing strategies and tactics to increase engagement and spread the word-of-mouth.

2. Fluctuating Market Prices
Prices for raw materials to prepare food is also highly volatile. In this kind of scenario, getting the right price and grabbing customer attention is a huge challenge. High operating costs further add up to the worry and thus affects profitability.

3. Adhering to Quality Standards
The massive surge in online orders makes businesses strive for maintaining food quality standards. There will always be a difference in the food that is freshly served at the restaurant versus the one delivered at doorsteps after travelling a few minutes and hence, companies should find new ways to address the same.

4. Improper Handling of Food
Mishandling of ordered food items is the biggest challenge faced by the industry currently. Only a handful of companies have proper measures in place to address the issue. Hygiene issue turns away a lot of customers, so should be handled with care. Providing proper training to the ground staffs are important and companies should invest in doing so.

5. Logistical Challenges
A major chunk of the business depends on how efficiently the logistics work to cater to a wider geography. Allocating the right staff, the right number of vehicles remains key while ensuring proper quality of the food. Last-mile delivery plays a key role and companies should pay attention to it for churning out happy customers. 

Why is a food delivery service important?

Current lifestyle and pace of life have made it a bit difficult for double-income households to cook a proper meal. Also, the lack of time due to a hectic office schedule further makes it impossible to go out for dinner and lunch. And in this kind of scenario only food delivery services can be a true saviour. During the lockdown, it has been a boon to many to get food delivered at their doorsteps. Some of the advantages of food delivery service are listed below.

Wider Variety
Food delivery service gives a plethora of options to choose from at the comfort of your home. You can choose your favourite cuisine from a wide range of restaurants. Be it an appetizer, main course or desserts, be it Chinese or Italian or Indian, you get to choose them easily. You can also compare the prices and popularity rating of the restaurants before ordering. It is easy to order and the transparency in the transaction also acts advantageously.

Cost efficiency for Customers
It is cost-effective to order food, the reason is that you cut on your travelling expense and time. Moreover, you can avail the deals and discounts that further reduce the expenses. As compared to dining-out, calling in for food at home is more affordable.

Easily Accessible
Just a smartphone with Android or iOS is needed that supports the app. Rest all is just a click away. Tutorial videos are also available to enable you to get a hang of things.

Varied Modes of Payment
Making a payment is quite convenient while placing an order for food delivery services. You get a choice of paying either by cards, net-banking, digital wallets, or even by COD (cash on delivery). The payment gateways are secured with valid certification and hence is safe to use. 

Why do businesses need a robust food delivery tracking system?

While the popularity of the food delivery business is on the rise, its success and equity will largely depend on how robust their tracking system is, since a lot would depend on the last-mile delivery. We have fleshed out the parameters to illustrate why such a robust system is the need of the hour.

  1. Guaranteed secure deliveries
    When all the food delivery companies are busy wooing customers, a small error in losing or misplacing a package can cause huge damage in reputation leaving the irked customer to badmouth. However, real-time tracking can come handy to ensure the safety and traceability of the parcel that leaves the kitchen. Also, customers will be able to understand the reason for the delay based upon the location of the package by improving the options for tracking the carriers automatically offering a warranty for safe delivery. Having a local warehouse at every delivery point is essential to ensure the safety of the products while they are in storage.

  2. Enhancing route planning
    Optimizing the route of delivery is important as it makes the process smooth. Route management software helps to analyze designated routes and offers an optimized solution to the designated driver. This results in a reduction of delivery time and costs to a certain extent. With the support of this technology, drivers feel more relaxed while delivering food parcels, and makes the process quicker than expected. Special algorithms automatically assign the best driver suited for the specific route to ensure faster processing.

  3. Enabling Automatic Dispatch
    Through real-time tracking software, the products can be automatically dispatched with minimum manual intervention. The software automatically assigns the driver and delivery agents for every single package using a specific algorithm. From the dispatch till delivery, the entire operation is processed through these algorithms to maintain speed. During the current pandemic condition, this particular process helped practice social distancing. This system also allows the customers to know the date and time of delivery beforehand along with further information on the delay if any.

  4. Gain Better Control via Tracking
    The online tracking technology allows consumers to receive their packages on time and communicate with the delivery agent if necessary. Tracking and tracing are an essential part of last-mile delivery services. It also helps to manage the routes and creates batch delivery systems automatically without any manual intervention. This, in turn, will speed up the process, and they are particularly useful when there is a lack of employees during certain situations.

  5. Quick Customer Feedbacks
    Customer feedback is important and hence some of the real-time tracking software offers this facility. This feedback data is further analyzed and used in service enhancement of companies to get more traction. Voice of the customer can actually point out the flaws in the system.

Actually, these latest technological interventions are essential which can connect the carrier, delivery agent, clients, and brands. These techniques are a part of the development involved in the last-mile carrier technology which will eventually deliver foods faster and increase customer retention, followed by huge brand equity. 

Top 10 Food Delivery Software/Apps 

The pandemic outbreak has seen a surge in online food delivery business worldwide, let’s have a look at the existing top players around the globe.

1. GrubHub, USA
2. Doordash, USA
3. UberEats, USA
4. Postmates, USA
5. Just Eat, Denmark
6. Deliveroo, UK
7. HungryHouse, UK
8. Foodpanda, Singapore
9. Zomato, India
10. Ele.me, China

To sum up, the potential of the food delivery industry is endless. With the right technology and customer-centric approach towards delivering food, restaurants and food delivery businesses can thrive even in today’s highly competitive market.