Launched in Delhi 11 years ago, Zomato has grown from a home project to one of the largest food aggregators in the world. Primarily a search and discovery platform, Zomato is aggressively expanding its food delivery business. Today, its food delivery service is present in over 500 cities across India.
“The optimum way to run a delivery business is that location mapping has to be done in a precise manner,” says Hardik Batra, Country Head – Online Ordering at Zomato Philippines.
What is your role in Zomato?
I’m a part of Zomato’s Global Growth Team and in my current assignment, I’m heading Philippines food-delivery operations for Zomato. We have learnt a lot over the years from our operations in India. We believe we have acquired certain capabilities which we can really translate into South East Asian markets. Philippines is our first SEA market where we are starting off our delivery operations. Before Philippines, I was heading Zomato Gold’s Global expansion. Zomato Gold is our in-house loyalty program, where you can purchase the membership and avail certain privileges and benefits at restaurants. I was responsible for building Zomato Gold in Philippines, Indonesia, Auckland and multiple Indian cities.
How does Zomato use geo-location?
Zomato is primarily a search and discovery platform. When you open the app, you should be able to search or discover restaurants around you. Geo-location is also very important for the delivery business, hence it is very centric to our operations. We have our in-house team which works on the product and the whole idea is that we try to make your location detection as precise as possible. We have an internal term called cells/subzone, where we divide the locality into small cells/subzone and whenever you are in that cell, that cell becomes your location and then we map restaurants which are around you or to that cell.
How critical is location analytics to Zomato’s business?
Geo-location is very centric to our business. I think the optimum way to run a delivery business is that location mapping has to be done in a precise manner. Let’s say a restaurant receives an order, firstly we need to allocate a rider who is nearest. Then at any given point of time we need to know how much time the rider is going to take to reach the restaurant and the time he/she will take to deliver the food from the restaurant to the customer. So we use a lot of data analytics for that. If you order from Zomato we already indicate a tentative time it’s going to take for us to deliver the food to you. So all of that is built on the data we have collated over the years. So depending upon which restaurant you order from and where are you located at, how much distance is there between the restaurant and you, also how far is the rider, we come up with a real-time number which will tell you it’s going to take ten minutes, twenty minutes or twenty five minutes.
Apart from the operational benefit, do you use analytics to generate business insights?
Analytics is used extensively across Zomato. We use analytics to predict demand. Based on time of the day, weather pattern, external and internal factors, and historical data. That helps us allocate our resources in an optimum way. Analytics is also used to customize what a customer sees on the app. Two different customers in the same locality will not see the same restaurants in their delivery app. We do a lot of customer profiling so customers see restaurants based on their preferences.
How do you build your analytics capability? Is everything built in-house?
Yes, we do everything in-house. With a lot of pride I can actually say that we have one of the strongest tech teams in the startup scene. We do use external APIs as well as and when required.
How do you find the Philippines market in terms of technology adoption?
I would honestly say that Philippines is where India was three to four years ago in terms of internet penetration and e-commerce adoption. Which also means it is a very good opportunity for companies like Zomato who already have a certain presence in the country to capitalize and be there right from the start.
Is Zomato looking at any other country to penetrate?
The way we penetrate is we first launch our content there. Zomato primarily is a directory for restaurants. We first build that in a country and allow it to get adopted in the market and allow people to use it organically. So whenever you have to find a restaurant or look for menu, timings, ambience, Zomato is your platform. Once we feel that we have enough traffic on that platform, then we start building businesses out of it. Be it advertisement, delivery, table reservation. Right now, our content is already there in 24 countries. Business, where we monetize it, are in 7-8 countries and of course we have plans of going in to more markets primarily through Zomato Gold which is our most recent very successful business line.