The food delivery service market in India is an open platform for innovation, exclusivity and unlimited boundaries
“India is a huge marketplace when it comes to catering multi-cuisine delicacies to the multi-cultural taste buds across its vast demography. Changing service patterns and lifestyle needs are also pushing this need beyond limits. Gitika Boro Bordoloi, Co-Founder, YMOC.com – a growing food delivery service platform in the US and India – explains the dynamics, variants and coordinates of this tricky business segment to show what it takes to stay competitive in this niche market.&rdquo
Q1. Please share your insights on the basic infrastructure and funding required for developing a new e-commerce delivery platform?
For an e-commerce delivery platform, apart from an office setup, adequate systems and processes, you need a dedicated team that is capable enough to convert the business plan into reality. As for funding, dedicated funding is needed as there is a significant buffer time before you get consistent revenue.
Actual platform development takes a considerable amount of time and, hence, the time-to-market gets delayed. Thus, the company has to run through a nil-revenue period. The major cost initially is allocated to quality human resources for product development. As a strong platform, both the website and app form the base for sustainability in the market.
Thankfully, for us, we had dedicated in-house software development and digital marketing teams already working on other projects. Their previous experience with a variety of platforms helped us integrate our idea with their experience from our previous projects.This helped us cut down on the development and planning time considerably.
As for funding, for YMOC.com we have been bootstrapping since the beginning. However, we plan to ramp up production and scale our business to its maximum potential; hence, we do want to go for funding at the right time with the right partner.
Q2. Tell us about the authorities’ permissions and concerned agencies’ approvals to begin a food delivery service platform. It doesn’t seem as easy as pressing a button on an app for order and payment?
As a private limited company, we were authorised to run the platform because we already had a trade licence for the required business. However, we do need FSSAI certificates from the restaurants listed on our platform for compliance.
Q3. How have the mobile tech and online selling portals changed the dynamics of this business?
Customer behaviour has gone through significant changes due to the shift from websites and laptops to mobile portals. They are more likely to open an app than go to a website to order food. This was visible from the difference in traffic observed on YMOC.com website and app. More than 80 per cent of our traffic comes from the app and that is where we are focusing right now.
Also, mobile portals are easily accessible and give a user-friendly, anytime-anywhere experience to consumers. With a simple user interface (UI), YMOC.com strives to serve the customers for the targeted service without distracting them much.
Customers seek convenience and, with the revolution in the e-commerce sector, they have gotten used to door-step services. We understand a customer might not be always be free to order at the time they want the food. We are taking care of this by offering scheduling and delivery services. With YMOC.com, people can schedule their meal one day before as well.
Q4. How do the operations and challenges vary with demography, such as labour retention and maintaining the quality and delivery time checks?
Our city Guwahati is a place with fewer corporate firms and, hence, we are at constant risk of losing our employees to the cities with established corporate hubs, where there are more options and opportunities. Ekodus HR experts are in constant communication with the staff and have implemented employee-friendly policies for labour retention. In addition, we offer transparency in the company wherein our employees are well-aware of our growth plans, which, in turn, lead to the growth of individual employees.
In India, customer behaviour changes with location. Hence, we must have separate strategies for different places. For example, in an established city like Pune, we plan to have pick-up points in corporate hubs and academic locations. However, with our experience in Guwahati, we have adapted to be more focused on delivery based on demand.
Q5. Please tell us about the dealing patterns when it comes to domestic and professional customers?
There are certain differences between customers when they order from home and when they order from office. We have observed that the latter category customers are more time-conscious. The YMOC.com team has observed that people are more likely to respond to digital marketing campaigns during the weekend or off-office hours, and so our marketing experts time their campaigns accordingly. Also, our scheduling option is targeted at office employees who might not have the luxury of time to order in time for lunch. We have carefully-planned our approach to cater the best irrespective of the nature of the customers.
Q6. Has the initial turbulence over shifting to the new GST system over now?
Yes, with the adjustment period gone, the turbulence is over for now! Ultimately, companies get used to new systems, and fortunately we have had proper systems and people in place to take care of the turbulence.
Also, with our food delivery app in place, we have regular audits with our CA to ensure we follow all procedures. With more than 100 corporate clients of our web development and digital publishing department in place, we have the software in place to carry out the current invoicing process to eliminate any discrepancies.
Q7. How do you anticipate the growth in this segment in India? Will the market mature any time soon? Can all players sustain the pressure of expansion and quality service in today’s competitive scenario?
Food e-commerce is a growing sector, and it is expected to grow at more than 16 per cent by 2023. Population growth and the growing number of women in the current workforce are major contributors to the growth in this sector. The factors responsible for the growth are continuously rising, and we expect this segment to grow beyond the anticipated 16 per cent.
We do not expect the market to mature anytime soon. In a diverse country like India, with more than 500 different types of cuisines, foodies are constantly trying and experimenting with different types of food. However, the availability of all cuisines in one location is subject to local cultures. We intend to close this gap with the YMOC.com platform, which is the one-stop solution for all foodies, where they can order their choice of cuisine anytime from anywhere.
With proper planning and implementation and with the flexibility to adapt to changing market forces, the companies can sustain the expansion pressure. They should concentrate on phase-wise expansion and enter newer territories with their learnings from prior experiences. YMOC.com intends to implement all its learnings from its home city Guwahati in other cities to ensure smooth customer and vendor experiences. We are also ready with our phase-two deployment to ensure we fill the gaps between our consumers and their needs. We plan to provide newer services to ensure customer engagement.