Zomato's big push towards social: in conversation with CMO, Alok Jain


Zomato made a big announcement yesterday:

And reactions started flowing in:

Zomato is a restaurant search and discovery service that was started by Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah from Delhi in 2008. The company went on to raise multiple rounds of funding, a total of $53.5 million till now. The overhaul of the website and apps was announced on the blog which touches upon the following points:

  • A better search
  • Adding a big personalization layer
  • Relooking and modifying how reviews work
Alok Jain, CMO, Zomato

YourStory got in touch with Alok Jain, the CMO at Zomato, to learn more about the product revamp.

YS: This is a massive overhaul, what was the thought process behind it?

AJ: This has been in the pipeline for some time now. We've solved many problems with respect to data and listing but social is something we were yet to crack. Giving users a very personal experience around food reviews and discovery is the main premise behind this overhaul. The food journal is the biggest update -- any food experience worth having is a food experience worth sharing. Users can now upload photos easily and the whole experience has become smoother.

YS: How did you react to the feedback?

AJ: We've all been interacting with a lot of users over the last few years. There were many things that people wanted. We had our ears open everywhere but at the end of the day, we took our decision based on our understanding and research. The whole process took about five months. Before launching in public, we did a beta launch internally as well where we ironed out a lot of creases.

YS: The login is compulsory now. Was it a hard decision?

AJ: Well, yes. We were trying out various things but to give a personalized experience, a login is necessary which would allow us to build on the interest graph. The new system allows each of us to create and own a mini-Zomato. People can follow other foodies, interact with others, it's a complete social network for foodies now.

YS: The change with ratings is also pretty disruptive. Tell us more?

DG (from the blog): Yes, the fact that most of the ratings fall in the 3-3.5 range is something which didn't give a clear idea. Now, we have ranked all the 221,000+ restaurants on a normal distribution curve. Here’s what the change looks like:

This should make it easier for all of us to decide where we should go out to eat.

YS: About the bigger picture, how are the international operations going?

AJ: With the overhaul, we've also launched in Portugal. In any country we go, the problem we solve remains the same -- to help people find restaurants. We find the best people who can execute the plan in a country and go for it. (website: Zomato)

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