What would you do if you are stuck in an unfamiliar territory and your hunger pangs start troubling you incessantly? You would search around for a good place to eat nearby.
Enter Zootout.com, a local lifestyle recommendation engine, which provides visitors recommendations for several queries and helps them choose the best option.
Recently launched on 26th January, 2012 in two cities, it has spread its wings in about 13 cities in India and also in Singapore. Zootout makes visitors aware of new and exciting places to eat in a city. Zootout believes that instead of providing scanned menu cards which are hard to read, it’s much better to list out the famous and tasty dishes of that restaurant. Users also have the option of updating the specialty of a restaurant, which then appears on the zootout website after verification. One of the founders of Zootout had earlier founded khaopiyo.com and all the founders have had previous startup experience.
So what makes zootout different from Burrp or Zomato, who have quite a stronghold in this category? It focuses more on ‘specialties’ rather than just listing out the menu and other restaurant details. In addition, there is a feature called ‘Guides’ which lists out various restaurants according to categories. Currently, Zootout is limited to only the food and nightlife section, with other segments like beauty & fitness, shopping, deals & discounts, events, sale in the coming soon section.
What we like –
- Website: The website sports a clean and aesthetic look which is pleasing to the eye. The search section is interesting and has an auto-complete feature and gives recommendations.
- Guides: This is like the lists feature on Twitter. Zootout has created lists like Best South Indian Restaurants, Best Chinese Restaurants, Unique Themed Restaurants etc. which might help you discover new places to visit.
- Specialty: The USP of Zootout is their listing of the specialty of restaurants. Normally, most restaurants on Burrp or Zomato are rated decently well and you cannot differentiate between the restaurants or choose which one to go visit based on the ratings and long reviews. But Zootout gets it right by providing the specialty of restaurants.
- Restaurant data: The popularity of a particular restaurant on Zootout can also be gauged by the number of page visits it has received, a feature which is displayed on the website.
What can be improved –
Mobile App: We found this to be the most lacking feature. There is no mobile version of the website, nor is there an app for the same. More than desktop users, people on the go will find it much more useful to use Zootout. This is one feature they can easily incorporate and is absolutely necessary to move forward. The ‘nearby restaurants’ that is already present on the site can be put to good use using a mobile app.
Search Results: We believe the search results can be improved, but that’s probably due to the limitation in the number of restaurants on the website. With time, the results are expected to be better with more restaurants being listed.
Specialties: Right now, users suggest specialties for restaurants and the Zootout team publishes it on the website after verification. This might be a problem while scaling up as this would be a manual process. On the other hand, if it is entirely left to the users, Zootout might fall under the same trap as their competitors.
Guides: The guides feature can be improved further with adding more restaurants and categories to it. In addition, it would be nice to know new restaurants added to the guides with the option of subscribing to a weekly newsletter or something of that sort.
Recommendations: You would rather visit a restaurant if your friend gives it a thumbs-up rather than a stranger. Hence, it would be great if Zootout incorporates the social recommendation on their website.
Overview – Zootout has some unique features that distinguish it from its competitors, but it has a long way to go. Burrp and Zomato are the first places people visit when it comes to restaurants. In addition, the other features like deals, etc. have to be started off quickly for people to start visiting the website. Competitors might start incorporating the unique features of Zootout and it might lose out then. Hence, it is of prime importance for Zootout to publicize itself quickly. It sure looks promising, but it has a long uphill climb.
Have you used Zootout? What do you think about it? Do let us know.