Food delivery’s trajectory continues post-MCO

To remain competitive and relevant, each service provider thrives in offering a different experience to customers

by LYDIA NATHAN / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE Covid-19 pandemic and the series of Movement Control Order (MCO) have remained the main stimulus for food delivery platforms, like Dahmakan and Grab, to thrive as they become an essential part of the consumers’ daily lives.

While the Recovery MCO allows a majority of the people today to return to their daily routine, the demand for food deliveries continues as part of the new normal.

Dahmakan CEO and co-founder Jonathan Weins told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that as employees gradually return to workplaces, the platform has also been recording more deliveries.

“We have had a lot of requests from customers who work in Kuala Lumpur but live in Shah Alam or Klang, and orders were delivered to workplaces.

“In any case, we actually created Dahmakan to serve office workers who want an affordable, tasty lunch without too much hassle,” he said.

However, he said the data still shows a large number of orders being delivered to residential areas.

“It will take time before everyone goes back to offices, as some companies are opting to allow employees to work from home for the next month or so, but our products and services are focused on providing high-quality food whether one is at a home desk or office desk,” Weins said.

Another service provider GrabFood has been enjoying a similar surge in demand for food deliveries and has to pivot the business to adapt to the new situation looming.

A GrabFood spokesperson told TMR that delivery services increased 30% compared to the previous week before the MCO was implemented.

“Merchant partners recorded a 25% increase in online revenue through GrabFood, while more than 8,000 merchants signed up with the platform during the MCO,” the spokesperson said.

The platform expanded GrabMart to five more cities within the first three weeks of MCO, bringing onboard more businesses and household brands, including pharmacies and grocery stores.

“We also launched Pasar, our extension of GrabMart delivery service for wet markets at the end of March 2020, and have since expanded by adding six more markets in the Klang Valley and from Penang,” the spokesperson added.

As the delivery numbers increased each day, the platform moved over 100,000 drivers to support deliveries and provide these drivers an alternative source of income as the transport business was heavily affected during this time, proven by a 90% decrease in rides.

“Today, almost 25% of food deliveries are completed by GrabCar drivers and over the period, we also created earning opportunities for those who needed them, with over 10,000 people joining Grab as driverand delivery-partners.”

“With services like food and mart deliveries being an essential need during the MCO, we have seen double-digit growth quarter-on-quarter, which is a clear indication that users are valuing the convenience of cashless and contactless deliveries,” the spokesperson said.

Foodpanda, another strong contender in the current market, revealed that between March and June 2020, the total of new riders that joined the fleet had doubled compared to previous months.

“Whereas, from March till July 2020, we saw more than 20,000 new riders joining us,” the spokesperson said.

To remain competitive and relevant, each service provider thrives in offering a different experience to their customers.

Weins said Dahmakan is set apart from the others because there are no middle-men involved in the transactions — which is important because listening to ideas and feedback ensures the team members are able to work directly with customers.

“You could call it a direct customer-to-chef relationship. This is a first for a service like this, where direct communication exists. Traditionally, not many can directly give feedback to the chef so dishes or menus may not change, but we wanted Dahmakan to operate differently,” Weins said.

He added that the platform made numerous changes to its rider recruitment and training when the MCO was first announced.

“We further improved and redesigned the payment scheme, so that our riders can earn more by driving more, as well as provide additional flexibility in terms of their preferred working hours.

“This allowed us to double the portion of our fleet of part-time riders,” he said.

Weins said the approach to the menu design is also vastly different. While most restaurants may opt for an external chef to consult on, Dahmakan uses two sources of inspiration for its food.

“The first one is from the long experience of our chefs, who frequently travel within Malaysia’s regions to find new food trends or learn the authentic cooking techniques for classic dishes.

“The second inspiration is actually from our customers. Our research and development team actually spend time talking and listening to what customers want. After that, we do various trial versions with sensory blind tests, done by our internal tasting panel, as well as selected customers,” he said.

The service recently opened another kitchen in Shah Alam, aiming to serve customers close by, including in Klang.

“This has indeed been an eventful year in which food delivery has become the forefront of mainstream attention.

“We have some exciting developments in our product pipeline that will be launched in the next six weeks,” Weins said.

Grab, on the other hand, said it will continue to boost visibility and awareness for smaller, independent neighbourhood restaurants and make food deliveries affordable with its Grab Signatures subscription, where almost 12,000 subscriptions were purchased in less than two weeks.