Food Delivery Notes

Food delivery platforms can be useful but based on recent reports, it seems there is ample room for improvement. In a three-sided market, there are issues with each market:
  • Consumer - Lack of healthy, balanced and iconic food choices. Promotion of inhouse brands over third party merchants (like Amazon muscling in on best sellers?). Limited choices although many good merchants nearby suggesting a lack of active recruitment. Plus the usual questions about markups and delivery charges, the latter which have recently crept upwards.
  • Merchant - Hidden fees and charges on top of high commissions. A merchant may sell thousands of bucks worth of food and end up owing money to the platform. Some say it is a free market and the merchants decide whether to sign up or not. However, it is possible the platform is making money off noob merchants.
  • Riders - Riders playing loose with traffic rules. One can sympathise with the riders where time is money, and it is no fun waiting at traffic under the blistering sun. The concern is ignoring the rules may teach other bikers to do the same, in addition to safety and law and order issues.

On the plus side, we see a rise in competing platforms and merchants doing own deliveries. Customers and merchants can try testing out these new offerings and use the free market to counter the shortcomings of the dominant platforms.

For merchants, when customers visit your eatery after the lockdowns, do try to recruit them to your online platform (eg. by giving them a business card which may simply contain a whatsapp number for ordering and you doing your own deliveries) before another lockdown comes along leaving you scrabbling to find customers to fill the order book.

Another avenue which can be explored is food trucks visiting areas which are not the target market for food deliveries (eg. public flats). Instead of food trucks be just mobile stores which plunk themselves down at fixed locations, the trucks would actually travel from location to location. This is an old school playbook tried and tested by the hawkers of yore who plied their trade, with delicious, affordable food, on bicycles and on foot.