National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) is planning to build its own online platform to take on food delivery services like Zomato and Swiggy. The announcement was made in a ‘COVID-19 Townhall’ held by the company on Wednesday. The new platform will enable online food ordering and delivery services along with loyalty programmes. NRAI said that that the current food delivery model is riddled with deep discounts and it is not benefiting the restaurants but only helping the aggregator apps. The association’s new move is aimed at reducing the dependence of restaurants on such apps. NRAI has been had loggerheads with aggregators like Zomato and Swiggy since last year.
NRAI, that represents about 6 lakh restaurant businesses, outlined several guiding principles for its new platform. It said that the new tech solution for restaurants will not try to become another “digital landlord” and will be transparent with processes and settlements that are easy to understand and honest. It said that the initiative is aimed at strengthening the relationship with customers through a model which is beneficial for both customers and restaurant operators.
“We have taken a very critical first step of taking control of our business through our own digital initiatives and we have formed specific small teams,” Anurag Katriar, NRAI President said during an online town hall meeting. He also said that there is a team working on food home delivery solutions. While talking about food aggregator apps, he said that the way things are going on, it is helping no one else but only the enterprise values of those companies.
The teams of the association are working on looking for partners to provide the needed technology, logistics, and delivery services. This is expected to help restaurants grow their business who have allegedly become dependent on the food aggregator companies.
“The time has come for us to actually work together and identify technology solutions and take ownership of this digital ordering space for ourselves,” Thomas Fenn, co-founder of Mahabelly restaurant said.
During the NRAI COVID-19 Townhall meeting, Fenn also mentioned about a survey done by Competition Commission of India that said that the food aggregators are cannibalising dine-in restaurants and the burden is shifting to restaurants. NRAI has protested several times against the allegedly unfair deep-discounts offered by the food delivery apps.
While talking about contactless dining, Katriar said, “We are looking at our own solution rather than waiting for an aggregator to come in. Again, a small team is working on it on behalf of NRAI.” He was possibly responding to a concept Zomato CEO and founder Deepinder Goyal had announced last month. Goyal had said that post lockdown, Zomato will be launching Contactless Dining where there will be no use of “high touch elements”. The experience will include “contactless menu, contactless ordering and contactless payment”.
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