India: Zomato plans contactless dining amid virus outbreak

Photo: Zomato

Online food aggregator and delivery platform Zomato is taking steps to minimise contact at restaurants as and when lockdown restrictions are lifted and consumers resume eating out.

The company said it is working towards adding new features on its app that will allow diners to use online menus, place orders, and make payments when they visit restaurants as it anticipates the covid-19 pandemic to vastly change consumer habits.

Zomato is working on adding these “contactless dining” features to its app, and is in the process of on-boarding restaurants willing to partner with it.

The company will roll out these features in India, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Lebanon and Qatar to begin with. The features will apply as and when lockdowns are lifted and restaurants commence dine-in operations.

The contactless menu will require diners to scan a QR code on the table to explore the menu with dish and pairing recommendations. A new feature will also allow users to order through the app, limiting their contact with the staff.

Users of the Zomato app already online access to menus across restaurants. However, they will now be able to place orders using the app once they visit the restaurant.

As for payments, users part of the complimentary dining programme Zomato Gold, already use the app to make payments. The company is now working towards allowing diners to use the feature, albeit if restaurants agree to partner with the app to enable such features.

Companies expect consumers to be apprehensive in the months following the easing of restrictions as concerns around safety and hygiene remain paramount.

As a result, retailers, including restaurants, are shifting the way they do business by ensuring minimum staff on the ground, and building better access for shoppers online.

“We anticipate that the food service industry, specifically the dining-out segment, will experience significant and permanent changes in the way it operates. Based on some recent consumer surveys, diners are ranking safety, assurance and hygiene as their top factors when they choose a restaurant to dine in,” Zomato said in its blog.

It will also add safety features on the app wherein restaurants are able to self-report safety and hygiene practices. “Prompts on the Zomato app will reveal the restaurant’s hygiene records to assist in informed decision-making, and also allow consumers to report any deviations from what has been self-reported by the restaurant,” the company said.

The success of Zomato’s initiatives, however, will depend on how the company is able to rally support from its restaurant partners, which were, until recently, up in arms against the food delivery platform’s steep discounts and complimentary deals.

This article was first published on livemint.com.

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.