Zomato set to scale 10-minute delivery service in top cities



Food aggregator Zomato Ltd plans to roll out more outlets across India’s top cities to scale up its 10-minute delivery service, offering easy-to-deliver items such as patties, desserts, snacks, and tea.

On Monday, the company had said it is piloting Zomato Instant, the 10-minute food delivery service, by setting up small hubs or “stations” that will work as mini assembly kitchens aggregating popular dishes from various brands.

Several executives Mint spoke to said Zomato plans to open over 40 stations in Delhi-NCR in the next 90 days, and then expand to Bengaluru and Mumbai. It will target a 1-2 km radius to fulfil the orders. “It is well planned. It has the technology infrastructure and delivery optimization required to do it. Categories could include juices, ice creams, bakery goods, wraps, etc,” said a person familiar with Zomato’s plans, seeking anonymity.

Initially, Zomato will target densely populated urban areas to serve low average order value (AOV) products that can be quickly prepared and delivered. The move to venture into the instant model was driven by consumer preference, founder Deepinder Goyal said in a blogpost on 21 March. “Customers are increasingly demanding quicker answers to their needs. They don’t want to plan, and they don’t want to wait. In fact, sorting restaurants by fastest delivery time is one of the most used features on the Zomato app,” he said.

Zomato Instant will be piloted with four stations in Gurugram in April. It will use dish-level demand prediction algorithms, and future-ready in-station robotics to ensure the food is sterile, fresh, and hot when it is picked up by a delivery partner, he added.

The need to pilot the 10-miute model was driven by the conviction that the 30-minute average delivery time by Zomato is too slow and could soon become “obsolete”, he said.

The company said it will list best-sellers (20-30 dishes during meal time) from various restaurant partners based on demand predictability and hyperlocal preferences under Instant. Some examples include poha, chhole chawal, momos, idli sambar, and juices.

“We have partnered with restaurants who are popular among our customers for these best-selling dishes we house under Instant,” a company spokesperson said in response to Mint’s queries.

Tea chain Chaayos said it is participating in the pilot and plans to post its staff in the delivery hubs or stations. “We’ve been in conversation with them for a month. They have been quite nimble because something like this needs deep operational expertise and last-mile logistics expertise,” said Udit Gupta, assistant vice president, Chaayos.

The chain will work through its IOT machines that can brew tea in two minutes. “It is not pre-made tea. It is fresh every single time. Our order can be in the rider’s hand in three minutes. If this pilot works out, there is no reason why they should not put a lot of time and energy behind it,” he added.

Yet others seemed sceptical as super quick delivery could risk the lives of delivery executives, and food delivery with short deadlines could affect the quality restaurants wish to offer.

Kabir Suri, president, National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), said while servicing consumers’ impulse purchases might be a good idea; it could limit offerings. “There’s a time that’s required to prepare and pack an item. And then there’s time taken to deliver that order. We run restaurants and we know it’s impossible to make things in under 10 minutes. No one’s questioning the fact that they’re trying to service impulse purchases, but let us be practical about what they can achieve. We also have to be concerned about (rider) safety.”

Inderjeet Singh Banga, NRAI Gurgaon chapter head and promoter of Prankster and Pirates of Grill restaurants, said while the Instant concept may be a success with consumers, the company will have to iron out issues around which foods can be prepared in three minutes which satisfy guest palates and prompt repeat orders.

Restaurateur Thomas Fenn flagged riders’ safety issues. “Groceries and food delivery are wildly different.”

Zomato may leverage Hyperpure, its business-to-business fresh and packaged food ordering platform, to offer quick-to-make foods, said the person familiar with Zomato’s plans. “We are uniquely positioned to empower the whole food ecosystem with a combination of our offerings, so why not,” the company spokesperson said on the possibility of leveraging Hyperpure.

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