Saurabh Kochhar, CEO, Foodpanda India, talks about efforts to make the user experience on the online food-delivery platform more seamless and roping in Shah Rukh Khan as brand ambassador
BY SAMARPITA BANERJEE
Q] You roped in Shah Rukh Khan as the face of foodpanda earlier this year? How did he fit in with the ethos of the brand?
As a brand, foodpanda is quite popular in the top five cities. Our surveys showed us that over 90% consumers had top-of-mind awareness about foodpanda. We realized that if we wanted to grow beyond that, we needed to rope in a brand bigger than us. That’s when we decided to take on a celebrity. Having a panda as the face of the brand has a certain appeal and we wanted to stay in the same genre. We decided on actor Shah Rukh Khan because his appeal cuts across demographics. The audience reception has been quite positive till now and the campaign has had the desired impact from both a business and positioning perspective.
Q] You expanded your delivery service to restaurants across major cities with Dash. What extra benefits does Dash add to your portfolio?
Earlier we used to provide delivery services only on the orders that originated on the foodpanda platform. With Dash, restaurants can partner with us on orders that do not necessarily originate on our platform. We have extensively used technology and science and put in effort to understand the processes and the delivery infrastructure. When you order on our platform, the average time from when you place the order till it is delivered is about 35-37 minutes. This is not very easy to replicate and we wanted restaurants to tap into this expertise.
Q] foodpanda has also recently added a ‘recommendation’ feature for food discovery. Was this based on consumer feedback? Are you also planning to monetize the feature in the future?
The feedback we got from consumers was that while the app or site showed the restaurants in the area, the multiple options confused them. With the recommendation feature, we wanted to help users make their choice, based on their preferences and what they are looking for. While we do have a section for promoted ads, we are transparent about that. Currently, we are not considering monetizing the recommendations.
Q] How are you ensuring that the consumer experience becomes more seamless?
In the latest version of the app, the number of steps required to place an order has been decreased from around eight to just four now. We have also significantly decreased the number of clicks and pages that need to be loaded. We have also made it a single page checkout for the order and a two-page checkout for payment. Even the wallet payment or the cash-on-delivery option is a single page checkout. Similarly, on the menu page, re-ordering is a seamless process. Most people tend to re-order their preferred dishes from the same restaurant, so when you go the restaurant listing page, you will see an ‘order again’ option right on the top. In the restaurant menu, you will see your past selections and recommendations as the first category. We also have a 45-minutes or money back guaranteed service which helps bring down the delivery time. So we are making changes at multiple levels.
Q] What gives foodpanda an edge over other players in the segment?
The segment currently only has three dominant players, foodpanda, Swiggy and Zomato, and each of us has a different approach towards the market. Zomato is taking a marketplace approach. Swiggy is saying they will deliver all orders and we are taking an approach where we provide need-based delivery.
Q] How important is the use of traditional media for a new-age brand like yours?
For any organization, you can experiment a lot with different media types initially but beyond a certain scale and awareness, you have to become an omni-channel brand. Today, we are reaching out to our audience across traditional and new-age electronic media. For us, it’s an even split between how much money we dedicate to traditional media versus online. However, since we are an online platform, Digital will be the dominant presence but we do have regular bursts on TV, Radio and even offline.
Q] Are there plans of expanding your services to more cities?
We are currently present in 150 cities across the country. We might decide to go deeper into a fewer cities that we already operate in but from a geographical footprint, we won’t be expanding any further.
Q] Currently how many restaurants are part of the foodpanda ecosystem and how are you bringing more restaurants under your ambit?
Currently, around 15,000 restaurants are a part of the foodpanda platform. We have a sales team which does restaurant activations on a daily basis. Over and above, we get almost a couple of thousand leads every month from restaurants that want to join the platform. We follow a very strict on-boarding process in terms of quality and documentation. While we are not able to bring all of them online, we do keep adding new restaurants regularly.
Q] What would be your broad marketing principles for the next few years?
Going ahead, our focus will be on two primary parameters - quality and reliability, and the 45-minute guarantee service is a result of our focus on increasing reliability. At the end of the day, our efforts would be around making consumer experiences more seamless.
Q] What percentage of your orders is repeat customers, and what percentage is new customers?
Around 85-90% of our orders come from repeat customers.
Q] What are some of the biggest challenges faced by the online food delivery industry in India currently?
The entire technology infrastructure and how well we are able to capitalize on it with the broader set of partners still remains one of the biggest challenges, because no matter what kind of technology you create, if it’s not implemented properly, it doesn’t bring in the expected benefits. Infrastructure is also another challenge for us, be it in terms of connectivity, roads or traffic because we are a physical implementation and execution brand. These are the biggest challenges for us.
Q] How much do you spend on marketing and what part of it is going to advertising?
In terms of marketing, around 50% of our budget goes into the traditional media which is Radio, TV, Print and offline branding.
Q] Where do you want to see foodpanda in the next few years?
India is a huge market. Today, the online percentage of the entire restaurant and food services business is about 2%. There is enough room for growth. Even conservative estimates say that over the next five years, the online part of the industry will be about 15-20% of the market, which means that the segment has the potential to scale about 15-20 times, and I see foodpanda playing a dominant role.
@ FEEDBACK email@example.com