Here’s how foodpanda perfects online food delivery
When it comes to online food delivery in Southeast Asia, there used to be several brands in each country providing such services. In fact, during the pandemic, the online food delivery service reached its peak and saw the birth of more online food delivery companies in the region. Not only was the business profitable to restaurants, but it also provided an opportunity for those who lost their jobs during the pandemic to become riders or even food operators.
However, as the world recovered from the pandemic after nearly two years of uncertainty, the online food delivery industry took a hit as well. As employees made their way back to the office, there was a drop in demand for food delivery services in some areas. This eventually led to several food delivery operators shutting down their operations.
Despite this, there was one food delivery company that still managed to strengthen despite the growing challenges in the industry.
Foodpanda has been operating in the online food delivery industry for nearly a decade. As a leader of the industry in Southeast Asia, the online food delivery company, which is owned by Delivery Hero, continues to improve the experience on its platform, not just for its customers, but for riders and merchants as well.
According to Davide Vitiello, Chief Product Officer at foodpanda, improving the customer experience is a compounded effect of a lot of small details. It’s the attention to these small details that can make a big difference to the entire customer experience.
“Foodpanda operates in 11 different markets, each with its own unique customer demands. The essence of it is to make easy what in reality is really complex behind the scenes. A great customer experience is one that hides all these complexities. Users are coming to our app to buy food and we should make that as simple and delightful as possible,” said Vitiello.
The three-sided marketplace
As a three-sided marketplace, foodpanda has three big product and technology teams that focus on each area – the customers, the merchants and the riders. Each of these areas has its own technology and applications that ensure a smooth experience as well.
“We collect a lot of data on consumer behavior. But we don’t look at consumers as individuals. We look at them as segments and how their behavior shapes. For example, based on the data, we look at the user and know that these users are deal seekers. So, let’s see how we can serve them better. We can pull all this data on the platform, and look at how users are interacting with each component, and how they are interacting with each image service that is in the application.
From there, we can analyze to see if they’re interested in the restaurant, the price point, are they sensitive to offers or not. After we gather and analyze this information, we pair it with the customer feedback we collect as well. We ask customers for feedback on their meal and get an endorsement from them,” he explained.
Vitiello also pointed out that with this data, everyone benefits. It is not just for the type of restaurants that are tailored to consumer behavior but also for the merchants who will have insights on how consumers find their food, offers they can provide and areas they can improve as well. The data will also be used to provide relevant ads to customers.
“At any point in time, no consumer is getting the same version of foodpanda. Each app will have different entry points, based on the segments from consumer’s data. We have sourced tools to automate these processes to ensure that the customer gets what they want and desire based on their experience on the app,” added Vitiello.
With all these data, concerns about data security and privacy are also addressed. As a tech company, foodpanda ensures that all data regulatory and compliance requirements are adhered to. The company also runs several tests on code, including penetration tests, static code analysis, audits and such before embedding any new features onto the app. If these tests are not completed, they won’t run the new feature into development. Foodpanda also has a global security team that continuously runs test on top on their platform and even offers bug bounty programs externally to discover any vulnerabilities.
Empowering online food delivery
For foodpanda, while perfecting the customer experience and enabling merchants to understand consumers better are a prerogative, the riders are the key to executing this. With thousands of riders in each market, the app needs to be able to ensure that the right rider gets assigned to the right delivery.
Advancements in geolocation data and mapping technologies have simplified the process a bit. However, foodpanda is still adding a few more steps to how they assign their riders to ensure maximum efficiency.
“Delivering food with a bike is a different game than having a taxi coming to your place. Unlike our competitors that offer ride-hailing services, we can think freely and are able to develop a product that is different. Today, we can approximate delivery and communicate clearly to a consumer when they’re going to get their meal. We can approximate with very good precision when it is done by working on all the variables that are on the steam,” said Vitiello.
According to Vitiello, for riders, there are variables that can be controlled and those that can’t be controlled like the weather. In the end, the algorithm is optimizing to find the right rider, which may not necessarily be the closest rider but the rider that will be in the position when they need to be. Foodpanda has around 500 personnel focusing on ensuring this process is perfected with minimal disruption.
“Once you have this technology, you can do more things with it for consumers. This includes sending products or using our APIs to open a third-party site, to book airline tickets for example. And from this, you now end up with a new type of user. I think this is where this particular component is going. It is going to become almost like an API-based product that can be used by whoever wants to plant and use this as they like. It can become their only choice for delivery or can become the choice they use when they overflow,” mentioned Vitiello.
Having said that, foodpanda also recently signed a partnership deal with AirAsia. The partnership will see foodpanda’s services made available on the airasia superapp. AirAsia, which also had an online food delivery service, believed the partnership will the best way forward to ensure both companies benefit from their strengths in the industry.
Generative AI for online food delivery
Generative AI has been making headlines all over the world. And it’s no surprise that foodpanda will be looking at how the technology can benefit them as well. Vitiello mentioned that foodpanda is already leveraging AI for some of its applications and has not ruled out the possibility of using generative AI in the future.
“Imagine this. You open the foodpanda app and instead of going to the search function, you can just type out a text stating: foodpanda, tonight I want to organize a Mexican dinner for four people, and one of our guests has a nut allergy. The app will then be able to give you suggestions just based on that query,” Vitiello said.
Apart from ordering food, generative AI can also help with generating images for food, which is mostly stock photos that restaurants are currently using. Interestingly, Vitiello also pointed out that this is something other companies are also investing in.
“Even for codes generated, if this can be automated, programmers can spend more time on more tasks. We need to move towards automating manual tasks so that engineers and programmers can spend time on different things. In foodpanda, we are already experimenting on different use cases. And this is the beauty of belonging to a company like Delivery Hero because we can develop our own or learn from our partners in Europe. We can learn in parallel,” said Vitiello.
When asked if foodpanda has plans to be a superapp, Vitiello said that they already are a superapp for food deliveries. Given the way the company is catering to customers, merchants and their riders in the region, there is no denying that they are the best at what they do.
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