Monday, August 03, 2015

Food Ordering Apps in India

Food ordering apps are everywhere, some have raised millions of dollars while others are in the process of doing so. By coming into existence they have gone and marginally disrupted (i should stop meeting VC's) the way food is ordered and consumed. You fire up your chosen app, select a restaurant, pick the dishes, make a payment online or COD and 30 to 60 mins later you are up to your elbows in curry.

Except you arent. I've used very single food app over the last few weeks and they have misfired once or more rendering the experience and the ensuing conversation with their customer service to be excruciatingly painful, to say nothing of being a very angry dude because my food didnt show up on time (or not at all, which has happened thrice across apps)

I won't name names because this isn't meant to be a takedown of any particular app or brand. To be fair, i used the big named, well funded ones with the sexy UI and online payment gateways, so go figure.

While i think its great that these services have come into play, bringing a seamless ordering experience and where one can order from restaurants hithertho deemed too far and to bring into the fold joints which one couldnt order from. However, this greatness is only achieved when the app follows through on its promise of you know, actually delivering the food.

You click a button the order goes through and a clock starts ticking, counting down the time to delivery. However many, many minutes after estimated delivery time all you have is a dropping blood sugar and no food.

This is because these apps ultimately lose out to that particular element which has been the root of all evil and misery across millenia, if you havent guessed it already, its us, humans. The human element is what let's the technology down, every single time. Is it any wonder that Skynet wanted to get rid of us all ?

When the system works, its a beautiful thing, seamless, painles, cashless. Utopian even. But it doesnt quite do so often. Maybe the restaurants aren't used to smartphones, maybe they arent used to prepping for delivery, maybe the riders don't know where they are going or they miscalculate traffic, the call centre folks arent well trained enough. In the end it really comes down  to people and that folks, is what they call a fatal flaw.

The result is that the food seldom reaches on time (this is my experience)  and then you complain and spend time dealing with customer servic execs recounting the minutiae of the experience while you are fobbed off with a few hundred rupees and a scripted apology. Then start the game again the next time you fire off the app.

Will things get better ? Will the restaurants, the app makers, the delivery men all work as a well oiled, cohesive unit ?

No, they won't.

Why not ?

I am glad you asked.

1. Because this is India. That sounds like a completely daft thing to say i know. But this is the nation where a man sits outside a vending machine to press buttons, a seemingly complicated task which must be perfomed by a trained proffesional, who might also double as a watchman.

We are the nation of jugaad, ordered efficiency is not something we do very well. Activities that rely on repeatedly efficient, last mile human connectivity rarely ever work. Why ? i can answer that but its beyond the scope of this blog.

2. The apps are well funded for now, so what they are doing with their money is spending it wisely on sponsoring IPL teams, outdoor advertising, radio jingles and of course, indulging in the greatest of all Indian past times, discounts.

Money and time that can be used in creating an enviably efficient organisation is now spent on making the loudest noise and trying to attract customers by losing money on every sale.

So no, it ain't getting better. 

Just my 0.02 cents.

1 comment:

chowringhee said...

Your blog is very informative and gracefully
your guideline is very good.Thank you.....

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