(By Porush Jain)
Have you ever ordered food online? Have you ever booked a table online? Did you ever look for these things?
I am not so sure! But certainly many entrepreneurs think that you do. We have a score of entrepreneurs who are all set to answer these very questions. Some dozen websites have popped out in the last year itself offering online food ordering and table booking services. Is there a sound business rationale in their offerings or would they just come and go without bothering anyone. Some of the websites have certainly become popular in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. This may be largely due to a significant population of non locals here.
First questions first! Are Indians searching for food online? A detailed search at google insights shows that we actually are. India showed relevancy to searches such as “Order online food” (48/100), “Online restaurant” (45/100) and “online pizza order” (33/100). Considering the size of India these numbers are not bad at all.
A quick search on the net reveals some 20 websites that are offering these services. Namely Cityguide.in, Eveningflaovors.com, hungryzone.com, bookmykhana.com, 2home.in, webdhaba.com, cityfoods.in, dinewhereever.com, mhungry.in, onlinefeast.com, unclejis.com, onlinekaha.com, hyderabadmenu.com, menulog.in, orderplz.com, bringmefood.in.
A further traffic search in Alexa shows that only few are worth mentioning, as traffic for most of them is nonexistent. Now I will cover some noticeable websites in this business.
Eveningflaovors.com This is a Bangalore based website where we can book a table online. The website has a pretty impressive design and supports web 2.0 features. What is really fascinating is the depth of their database. Through this website you can book a table in some 450 restaurants in Bangalore. Their revenue model right now seems to be the advertising revenue from restaurants itself.
hungryzone.com is a multicity based website which seems to be working very hard. Hungryzone goes a step ahead of eveningflavours by providing complete menu of the restaurants and the facility to place your orders online. Their revenue model is slightly different as they would be charging the restaurants on an order to order basis. The website is also elegantly designed and supports many web 2.0 features.
bookmykhana.com is a NCR based website which again seems to have invested quite a lot in its website. They also have the facility of online payment. Though the Websites is professionally designed it is not impressive or intuitive. The order selection procedure and checkout is itself very tedious. Their database is also week at present.
2home.in A very noticeable entry in the online food ordering business has its root in Ahmadabad. Not because this has been started by three IIM grads but because the website makes a lot of sense. The locality search and the time bar (drag to select the time of delivery) on the home page makes it very intuitive. Simple and easy to use the website is a true web 2.0. I should also mention very cleverly designed logo.
All said and done I am still not convinced with the potential of this business. There are many questions that these entrepreneurs need to answer. Is it not easier to call just dial and get the contact details of the restaurant? How many Indian’s search for a restaurant online before going out? Will this revenue model provide a sustainable growth? And Is it scalable enough?