FoodTech services have been rapidly developing in the United States for a few years; now they are steadily gaining trust with Russian consumers. Large players are fighting for best food delivery provider title, and offers are becoming increasingly diverse – healthy nutrition for athletes, home-cooked meals, balanced nutrition for weight loss, lunch catering sets for office employees…
Online ordering at restaurants has been lagging behind food deliveries for a while – the market for delivering food from restaurants has formed in Russia a couple of years ago, now split between the Delivery Club and Yandex.Food giants. But the situation seems to be changing. Food pre-order platforms are a global trend. Russia, although with some delay, has also appreciated the benefits of these solutions. Earlier this year, Sberbank and FoodPlex launched SberFood – a service for booking tables and pre-ordering food. The Foodle innovative service that opened in St Petersburg last year is completing preparations for the launch in Turkey, Belarus and Azerbaijan. The developers’ plans include expanding to all million-plus cities in Russia in 2020.
How popular will food pre-order apps grow in Russia? How do they work, and why both customers and restaurateurs love them?
If you have been waiting for your salad for almost half an hour while guests who arrived later are instantly served their appetizers and hot courses, don’t judge too quickly. Quite possibly, they are not chef’s friends, the owner’s relatives or regular and highly respected customers. Most likely, these ‘lucky bastards’ simply took advantage of a pre-order app.
Statistically, the average waiting time between an order and its arrival is 20 to 40 minutes. Also, first you need to leaf through the menu and perhaps check a couple of things with a waiter. Essentially, eating in a restaurant is usually not a quick pastime. Customers don’t always have time on their hands, especially on weekdays when they need to eat and discuss a lot of things with their business partners or colleagues during lunchtime. Pre-order service is useful for:
- picking a restaurant and booking a table
- choosing food from a detailed menu that lists ingredients and includes pictures, which is an important term of cooperation with every participating restaurant
- let the restaurant know if you want to dine in or take away
- pay the bill
- leave a tip
As soon as you arrive, the restaurant will promptly bring your order. It is extremely time-saving. The apps are free for customers and even offer bonus programs (some are similar to collecting airline miles). The bill will be exactly the same as if you ordered the same meal already in the restaurant. Will the food get cold if you are late? App developers assured that there’s no reason to worry. All hot meals such as soups will be waiting in the kitchen under a warm cover and will not appear on the table before you sit down.
First cautious about pre-order services, restaurants have now realized all the benefits of such collaboration. Foodle Director Dmitry Zaitsev noted:
“Both customers and restaurants enjoy the advantages of pre-order apps. Foodle allows for streamlining the work of the kitchen and planning the number of customers in the restaurant at the moment, an also can help quote accurately forecast the growth of revenue due to reaching to the new audience. The platform of expanded business analytics brings the relationship with our guests to a new progressive level and helps us manage marketing processes most efficiently.”
However, serious investments are needed in order to make the app really convenient, cutting-edge and competitive.
“As of today, over RUR 50 mio ($780K) have been invested in the project; over 350 restaurants and over 35,000 customers have joined the system,” Zaitsev said.
The SberFood mobile app is more ambitious: it offers access to over 50K restaurants in 72 cities, as well as recommendations and rankings by Afisha Restaurants publication, plus discounts and bonuses for new orders. According to FoodPlex General Director Nikita Nechayev, the order amount payed via Plazius is over RUR 90 mio per month, while the active monthly audience is 600K people. Sberbank and FoodPlex hope that with the launch of SberFood these indices will grow significantly.
The sustainable growth of interest in the pre-order services promises that they will be developed and improved, become more convenient for the clients and also stimulate restaurants to improve their service quality and develop new bonus programs.
Thus, in the nearest future, the developers of the Foodle project plan to integrate the option to automatically order a taxi to the restaurant. They also are negotiating with St Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development about the service’s participation in the improvement of the city image by launching the development of a multi-language platform to translate the menus into the most popular foreign languages, including Asian ones, in order to attract foreign tourists and promote the development of culinary tourism in Russia.
By Natalia Sysoyeva