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Meals on wheels

  • Published at 08:19 pm January 8th, 2020
Photo: Bigstock

The evolution of food delivery services

Gone are the days where you drenched yourself in the rain or grinded your way through the infamous Dhaka traffic; under the scorching sun during summer, ending up with tan marks all over your body only to go to a restaurant to order your favourite dish. Thanks to the boom in the food delivery industry in Dhaka, your favourite dish gets delivered right at your doorstep with the help of a few taps on your smart phone or laptop. Currently, there are five such major food delivery services among which are HungryNaki, Foodpanda, Pathao Foods, UberEats and Shohoz foods. Their service enables you to order food right from under the warm cozy comforts of the quilt, and within an hour or less a delivery man comes in with your desired dish right on your doorstep.

The first online based food delivery service, HungryNaki, was launched by the trio Ahmad AD, Tausif Ahmad and Sazid Rahman around July 2013. This caught the attention of some already established globally recognized brands such as Foodpanda -- they saw the tremendous business opportunity and started their journey later that year, in December.

Traffic being the biggest nuisance for Dhaka dwellers, going to a restaurant after a busy day at work becomes more and more inconvenient and cumbersome. Speaking to university students, it was seen: They preferred UberEats and Pathao Food over others. Some said UberEats provides better offers and discounts, while others found Pathao Food’s interface to be more user friendly, and since it has been around since before UberEats, some tend to stick to an app they are more familiar with.

Interestingly, the scene is a bit different among the expat community around Dhaka. Foodpanda was the more popular choice, according to two French nationals who are regular users of their service. Since the website supposedly has a better interface for laptops and computers, and its global presence makes it more familiar and a more natural choice for them.

Restaurants and some popular pizza parlours have confirmed their orders have drastically increased, especially during late nights where people tend to order food even as last as 3am. Speaking to a few local university students, the culture of ordering food online is ever growing; popular foods such as old Dhaka’s biryani or tehari are now being ordered using such apps. This shows to what extent the service has reached and how local, ordinary restaurants are getting affiliated with such delivery companies.

Initially, a lot of such restaurants were not too sure of the services these companies promised to provide. They were unsure if the food will be delivered in conditions they would want to be served to the customers. Times have changed and so has the scenario. These delivery services have proven to be a blessing to the restaurant businesses. Interviewing one such restaurateur, of a renowned café at Dhanmondi has confirmed -- at least 15 to 16 orders come in daily from such delivery services. Pathao Foods is seen to be leading the way in this case. In order to get into this matter deeper, we asked a few users why they rather use Pathao Foods and not the other available options. Younger people, mainly university students, claim the user interface was much friendlier. Some did opt for UberEats due to it providing more discounts.

With the rising popularity of such services, it’s safe to say they are here to stay. Not only are they helping out customers, these companies are also creating job opportunities for many. One such example is Alamin, an SSC candidate, working for FoodPanda who earns his living by delivering food at people’s doorsteps. This gives him the flexibility to study and earn money at the same time. All he needed to learn was how to ride a bike. Hundreds of such Alamins have been empowered and are contributing to their families through such jobs -- which, undoubtedly, is something positive for the economy as a whole. 

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