I remember a time when, to get food delivered, you’d have to call the local Chinese restaurant and place your order directly. Probably on a landline telephone. I imagine the guy on the other end hand-wrote the order too. The food would arrive half an hour late and your only recourse was to verbally abuse the delivery guy or try and find another Chinese restaurant in the area. But there were no other Chinese restaurants in your suburb, and you knew that if you yelled at the delivery guy, your next order would come with a side of saliva.
Oh, how the world has changed.
It all started with Menulog, way back in 2006. Suddenly, a whole bunch of restaurants were accessibly from the one super handy website or app. It wasn’t a pretty interface and bugs weren’t uncommon. The restaurants listed were usually B-grade Mexican joints and the kind of pizza places known for not using hairnets. But it was easy and convenient and not crazy expensive. It was every stoned teenager’s dream come true and it took off in a big way.
For a long time, Menulog was the king of the castle, with no direct competition. Food delivery services popped up every now and again, but they didn’t have what it took to overthrow Menulog.
Now, in 2016, the crown is being fought over by three major players – all new to the Australian food delivery scene. Foodora, Deliveroo and UBEReats have taken over and in comparison, Menulog is the poor man’s option. The king is dead. Long live the king.
The difference between Menulog and these new players is that the new guys are offering a different kind of dining experience. Their options are usually popular restaurants with hipster credentials – places that serve house-made tortillas and authentic labne, use organic meat and have paleo options. It’s delivery for the fancy, and Menulog can’t compete.
So now we have three big players in a market that until recently was only big enough for one. At the moment, all three are invested in aggressive marketing – there are posters up along every construction fence and people with discount cards at every corner. But this will only go so far.
For these guys to survive, they’re going to need to concentrate on range (what restaurants you can purchase from on the app) and service (speedy delivery, ease of using the app, quality of the food). Sexy branding is all well and good, and it certainly helped them dethrone delivery, but at the end of the day, who no one gives a flying feck what the middleman looks like. The thing between you and your food is *always* an obstacle, so the focus needs to be on minimising the obstacle and making sure there’s a lot of food (and variety of food) on the other side to incentivise people to get over it to begin with.
So far, UBEReats is taking the lead by curating a lineup of super hip, trendy food outlets, many of which are exclusive to the app. This, of course, is no accident and I imagine UBEReats has exclusive arrangements with these restaurants to secure you ordering from their app alone. With UBER behind it footing the bill, it’s certainly got the heft to pull this off.
However, Deliveroo and Foodora aren’t backing down, and while they may not have the same buying power as UBEReats, they’re differentiating themselves in different ways. For example, while the three services use a mixture of vehicles for delivery, Deliveroo and Foodora focus heavily on bicycles – the greener choice, which could play an important deciding role for environmentally conscious millennials.
At the end of the day, of course, all three are giving us the same thing, and all their competition is achieving at the end of the day is more choice for us, the consumer. And I’m pretty happy with that.