After playing a successful innings throughout the year, the foodtech startup Zomato has given its consumers and retailer network another reason to celebrate. The company has announced the launch of its international paid subscription program Zomato Gold in India.

Zomato Gold is an exclusive dine out and social drinking membership program. The Zomato Gold was offered first in the markets of UAE and Portugal earlier this year. At this point in time, Zomato’s existing subscription program in India Zomato Treats has already reached approximately 60,000 members, as claimed by the company in a recent blog.

A Look Upon Zomato Gold Offerings

With Zomato Gold, the members can avail complimentary meals and drinks at 1200+ curated restaurants across Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Bengaluru. They will also get exclusive invitations to food & drinks events like – wine tasting sessions, new menu previews, pub crawls, chef cookout sessions, new restaurant openings, etc.

Zomato Gold is currently available through two memberships plans – three month plan priced at INR 599 and an annual 12-month plan at INR 1499.

“In the next few weeks, the plan is to introduce Gold to other Indian cities as well,” as mentioned in the company blog.

Zomato Vs Swiggy: The Battle Is On

With the speculations of Zomato and Swiggy merger circling the ecosystem, both the rivals are gearing to build upon their strategies to take the largest share of $2.9 Bn worth online food & services market in the country.

The announcement of Zomato Gold too came in soon after its arch nemesis Swiggy uncurtained its strategic initiative Swiggy Access.

As per this initiative, the first Swiggy Access Kitchen has been set up in Bengaluru. As a delivery-only branch of partner restaurants, Swiggy now claims to be able to provide lightning fast deliveries and reduced wait times for consumers. On the restaurant partner side, these ready-to-occupy kitchens will offer them a basic setup with the required amenities. No rent or deposit will be charged for the premises. Restaurant partners will also be able to leverage Swiggy insights to improve their food quality through consistent consumer feedback. Additionally, it will also help them optimise their kitchens for factors like stocks planning, demand forecasting, preparation time and order edits

Swiggy also made several attempts throughout the year to build up its revenues. However, despite all efforts, Swiggy reported a loss of about $21.3 Mn (INR 137.18 Cr) for the year ended March 2017, as per regulatory filings with RoC. On the contrary, Zomato not only reported an 80% surge in revenues for FY 17 to around $60 Mn, but also picked up many initiatives to lure its partners restaurants and even acquired Runnr.

Thus, now Swiggy has also tightened its belt and has revised its monetisation strategy this year. Not only the free lunches have been dropped at many counters but also the company is aggressively shouldering its delivery fee burden with its customers. Also, in the month of September, Swiggy announced plans to build a new cloud kitchen vertical, in a bid to bolster revenues.

Online food delivery sector, once flooded with me-too models, has now become a hotbed for global players such as UberEATS and Google Areo. Thus, going forward, brand loyalty will certainly play a crucial parameter in determining the market leadership of any brand. Zomato Gold or any subscription program would demand a high quality assistance and service, owing to the extremely price sensitive market India is. How well Zomato will be able to pull in strings in this tug of war, will be interesting to watch.

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