Uber’s fast-food app Uber Eats along with India’s cafe chain, Cafe Coffee Day (CCD), today announced a strategic partnership to co-create a brand for the virtual restaurant — the concept, which understands consumer’s food ordering behaviours and availing his/her favourite meal at the doorstep. This also means that menus which used to be delivered only in ‘x’ location will now be expanded for all ‘xyz’ locations.
The launch is expected to kick-off with CCD’s 10 cafe chain in Bengaluru during the first week of November, 2018.
“This is the first large-scale relationship we have with a large restaurant chain… and co-invested our time, energy and money to create this. This is the first of its kind. Previously, we have done this, but with independent restaurants and locations. This will probably be the largest virtual restaurant chain in the world,” Uber Everything head Jason Droege said.
CCD has more than 1,700 cafe chains across India, while Uber Eats has more than 100 restaurant partners and 2,000 delivery-only kitchens (also called cloud kitchens) across 37 cities in the country.
How Will CCD & Uber Eats Bring Flavours From Around The World?
The answer is through the concept of virtual restaurant.
Most of the time, our food choices are bound by proximity to the restaurants that can deliver to the location. A foodie does not have the liberty to order his favorite meal from anywhere due to the ‘proximity’ factor. The message: “Sorry, the restaurant cannot deliver the food at this location” should ring the bell. This happens with almost every online food delivery platforms in India.
However, things are changing slowly and steadily in India’s $1.5 Bn foodtech industry.
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As Uber Eats India and South Asia head Bhavik Rathod says, the partnership is strategic and long-term in nature between the two brands — Cafe Coffee Day and Uber Eats — where the former is leveraging their existing cafeterias and expanding into virtual brands out of the kitchens that they already have.
“With the facilities that we have, we are creating a new virtual brands that will spun out from the existing CCD locations — through our insights on the food trends that are happening in India and around the world, which will serve the need of the consumers,” Rathod said.
“This is a very customer-first approach. So, we are literally looking at what consumers are asking for at what price point, and trying to work with CCD to deliver it at scale,” he added.
The virtual restaurant initiative being first implemented across 10 CCD cafes in Bengaluru will be specifically available on Uber Eats platform.
“What we will do is provide meal options to the people. The menu will be different from the current menu of the CCD. We might have to implement some equipment as and when organoleptic, stage, portion, size, pricing are put together. We are starting with hardcore data and insights coming from existing consumers of Uber Eats. The opportunity is to make CCD cafes virtual across India,” Cafe Coffee Day CEO Venu Madhav said.
Connecting With The Food You Want To Order At Any Moment Is A Very Powerful Idea: Jason Droege
Various reports have cited Uber Eats say that it already has more than 1,600 virtual restaurants around the world. Uber Eats charges virtual restaurants between 30 and 35 percent of their delivery sales, Eater reported. However, the executive did not disclose the monetary sharing between the two brands.
Uber Eats will complete its third anniversary in December 2018. In India, however, it was launched 18 months ago.
As Droege says, the virtual restaurant brand ownership is, however, awarded to the restaurant partner, whereas Uber Eats provides its expertise, logistics and technology, and insights to enable that.
“Having used the data — the order history, the ordering patterns — from around the world, we provide insight, facts to restaurants to increase their business and intentionally deliver outside of their usual delivery,” he added.
“When you get exposed to thousands of options, often creates a paradox of choice. To scroll through thousands of options for 10 minutes looking for the exact item that you want is not a magical experience,” says Droege.
So Is The Uber Eats’ Virtual Restaurant A New Concept In India’s Foodtech?
We will have to give the benefit-of-doubt to Uber Eats on this.
Uber’s virtual restaurants instead of relying on commissary kitchens, they take advantage of restaurants that already exist, and Uber Eats also helps them leverage their delivery outside of the location.
“We are not creating kitchens or getting restaurant partners to open-up new locations. CCD and Uber Eats are bringing expertise together where the former is leveraging their existing areas that they have around the country and spinning out virtual kitchen out of existing space they already have,” Rathod clarified.
However, the discussion here is not who introduced what at first; but the idea is bringing innovation or ways to deliver the favorite menu to the foodies in all ‘xyz’ locations.