Restaurants are, at the moment, averse to the 10-minute delivery plan
Food aggregator Zomato’s announcement to pilot a 10-minute delivery service has drawn ire from several quarters – gig workers, market experts, social media users and restaurants.
After Congress leader and member of parliament Karti Chidambaram tweeted that he would raise the issue of gig workers in Parliament, Zomato founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Deepinder Goyal responded to him, saying that delivery partners would neither be penalised nor incentivised for on-time deliveries.
Further, Goyal shared a plan laying out the mechanics of the 10-minute delivery service. According to the plan, the service would involve restaurants preparing the order in 2-4 minutes, while delivery partners will have to travel up to 2 kilometres in six minutes at an average speed of 20 kilometer per hour.
However, restaurants are apprehensive about Zomato’s experiment. The main reason is that they are against giving up quality control, and are focusing on serving fresh food to customers. This, in turn, is due to the system of hyperlocal stations that Zomato will deploy – which would need to stock specific high-frequency items from restaurants.
“Perhaps, other restaurants will join the service. But I run a young brand and cannot take the gamble on such a service at this point. That is why we declined Zomato’s offer to participate in the pilot programme,” said Diksha Pande, co-founder of Samosa Party.
Farman Beig, CEO and co-founder of fast food chain Wat-a-Burger, said: “Our preparation time is 10-15 minutes as we strive to serve only fresh ingredients.”
“ It remains to be seen what kind of a system Zomato can offer so that quality remains intact. But for now, we are not in a position to offer such a service,” he added.
Meanwhile, quick service restaurant (QSR) chain Burger Singh is still evaluating whether to join the instant delivery service or not. “There are still quite a few things that Zomato has to figure out. We are in talks with them as we have one of the fastest order turnover in the industry. But it is early days and we would like to take a call on this after some time,” said Rahul Seth, co-founder of Burger Singh.
The decision has also drawn flak from a few workers’ unions.
“Zomato should understand the pressure it creates with these new services. They forget that the workers are not machines. Most of their delivery agents work for over ten hours and the platform actively engages such practices by not setting a cap on maximum hours that a delivery worker can login,” said Shaik Salauddin, the national general secretary of the Indian Federation of App-based Transport workers (IFAT).
“These data-extracting companies provide information about the number of biryanis ordered in a minute but they do not share data on accidents that their delivery workers have met so far,” he added.
Experts are of the view that such a service will be difficult to sell even to the millennial and Gen Z target audience as these demographics are increasingly opting for health conscious products and lifestyles.
While the range of food items that Zomato plans to offer through 10-minute deliveries is not clear yet, the company said they will sell items like chole bhature, bread omlette, poha, and momos as part of the programme.
“The only way to provide a 10-minute food delivery service is using frozen foods. The moment the order is in, you heat it and package it. Even doing that in two minutes will be a tough task,” says a veteran investor in food and consumer companies.
He adds, “On one hand, the customers want to eat fresher, healthier, organic and preservative-free food. On the contrary, they are open to such offers. I think it is high time that customers raise their voices and tell companies that they do not need such services. Everyone listens to the consumer.”
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