Technology wasn't a big focus at the start for dahmakan. Source: Shutterstock

Technology wasn’t a big focus at the start for dahmakan. Source: Shutterstock

How dahmakan is using tech to scale up its meal delivery business

MILLENNIALS working in offices don’t bring lunch from home; instead, they order from one of the many apps and online platforms now at their disposal.

One app that’s doing exceedingly well in Malaysia is dahmakan (translates from Malay as ‘already eaten’). The company recently announced that it served its one-millionth meal.

“When we started, I was cooking and delivering the meals myself together with my co-founders. Today I am truly grateful to be able to work alongside some of the most talented chefs in Malaysia,” said dahmakan CEO and Co-Founder Jonathan Weins.

In an exclusive interview with Tech Wire Asia, Weins explained the role of technology in his journey and why he feels the next millionth meal won’t take as long as the first million did.

“For us, technology didn’t really play a big role at the start. Not on the front-end at least. We used an off-the-shelf website that we customized for ourselves — which was what we used until recently” said Weins.

Instead, he chose to focus on building proprietary technology to manage order-routing and to notify customers about orders and progress.

“That’s the really important piece in the food delivery business. Getting the food to the customer quickly and making sure that they’re up to date on what’s happening with their order,” said Weins, who is clearly focused on the end-user each and every day.

“Initially, while we got 60 orders a day, we managed order routing and dispatch manually. With time, we developed our own system to route orders, and now, using artificial intelligence, we have optimized it to make sure we’re able to cut costs and delivery times even further.”

Weins’ dahmakan directly competes with some of Southeast Asia’s largest food platforms and it does a fantastic job at differentiating itself in the crowded marketplace.

“One of the biggest and most important things in our business is to make sure we offer free deliveries. Charging a fee, however small, for delivering food isn’t such an ideal scenario. All our deliveries are free, which is what really makes a difference to our customers.”

While dahmakan’s 300-plus riders (delivery persons) serve a few thousand lunches and dinner orders across the city of Kuala Lumpur, the company does have other competitive advantages that it seldom boasts of in public.

“Customers want affordable food. We use order histories and customer data to predict what customers will order in the coming week, which really helps us negotiate grocery orders for the next week. This allows us to lower our costs and pass on the savings to customers.”

To be honest, there’s more to how dahmakan uses customer and operational data, and all the customer feedback it receives.

When pressed, Weins agrees that catering to the Malaysian palate isn’t simple. The country is populated by three ethnicities — Indians, Malays, and Chinese — all of who have different tastes and preferences when it comes to food.

“dahmakan uses an iterative approach in food menu development, powered by feedback from customers. That’s how we find popular dishes and recipes that people love. Every day, we make sure our menu has something that will appeal to every palate in the country.”

At the end of the day, the company is keen on using technology in new and innovative ways, really hoping to leverage data to catapult it ahead of the competition, and accelerate towards its goal to deliver its two-millionth meal no later than the end of this year.

“Technology is an enabler, and when businesses use it to meet customer demands, needs, and expectations, it can be the most powerful tool in your arsenal,” concluded Weins.