After four decades in the business, Mumbai-based Apsara Ice Creams has seen the ebb and flow of the food delivery landscape in the country. From taking orders on the phone and delivering them on a bicycle from their Malabar Hills outlet to a dashboard alert and a quick handoff to delivery personnel, it’s just the medium that has changed. But partner Kiran Shah isn’t satisfied. 

“We have at least 15-20% repeat customers. They already know what they want to eat, but when we ask them to order via Zomato or Swiggy, we are just shooting ourselves in the foot,” Shah tells The Ken. “Operating a direct channel with these customers is important to us.”

Shah’s frustration is understandable. The restaurant aggregators Zomato and Swiggy take a cut of nearly 20%-40% of the order value from the restaurant, according to various estimates. Aggregators also keep the goldmine of customer data to themselves. Restaurants have no clear picture of who their customers are or what their order histories look like. 

Nascent, and to an extent, still niche, direct ordering services offer an alternative to restaurants trying to break out of the grip of restaurant aggregators. Much like what Shopify Shopify The Ken Shopify shops for e-commerce’s business in India Read more  did for direct-to-customer e-commerce, they provide an independent tech platform that enables customers to set up a custom website for orders. 

Not only do they provide built-in solutions to collect customer data, but they’re also efficient. And more importantly, cheap. The Mumbai-based Thrive—which Shah has tied up with—takes a 3% cut. The commission for Gurugram-based DotPe is even lower—1%. Between these two and the up and coming Bengaluru-based Peppo, direct ordering platforms have scored some of India’s largest and most popular restaurants and fast-food chains as clients. DotPe did not respond to The Ken’s requests to participate in the story.

The National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI) has also thrown its weight behind these players. The restaurant body, which has previously taken on taken on The Ken Six months on, #Logout’s fury fails to hurt Zomato, Swiggy Read more aggregators for their deep discounting tactics and high commissions, announced announced NDTV NRAI to Launch Its Own Food Delivery Platform to Take on Zomato, Swiggy Read more  plans to launch a food aggregator app of its own. It has now shelved that plan shelved that plan BusinessLine NRAI shelves food delivery platform plans Read more , instead promoting direct ordering as a solution to restaurants’ woes.

AUTHOR

Bhumika Khatri

Bhumika covers e-commerce, consumer internet, and everything startup for The Ken in Delhi. In her previous stint at Inc42, she spent two and a half years writing about a breadth of startups and topics. A commerce graduate, Bhumika completed her postgraduate in journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Bengaluru. You can reach her at Bhumika@the-ken.com

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